Strategy. A word that rarely gets people excited. A word that can strike tedium into the hearts of the dullest of the grey-suited ones. And yet, not only is it essential, but there is absolutely no need for it to hit those drab low-points.
We recently launched Link’s new three-year digital strategy, having examined the achievements of our previous strategy and asking: what is our technology really capable of?
It is an important question that many housing providers will be asking themselves, particularly at the moment. Understanding what our existing technology can really achieve (as well as its limits) is the key to opening the doors to internal innovation.
We hope that our new digital strategy will escape the ‘dreariness trap’ by creating a vision of the future for Link that is exciting and open to challenges. By acknowledging global disruptive factors, the advantages of the automation of work, the internet of things, mobile data and cloud-based technology, our strategy has an overall emphasis on horizon scanning.
Blockbuster vs. Netflix
We know that change is ever-present and everyone reading this piece will know the stories of those companies which didn’t understand the impact of change, even when it was under their noses. There will always be a Blockbuster that didn’t recognise the opportunity of faster broadband and there will always be a Netflix that takes advantage of that same technology. In reality, most businesses will fall somewhere in-between.
The ‘adoption curve’ is a warning to those too eager to adopt untested technology and formats (remember mini-discs?) but also a warning to those too late to the party, such as Kodak, the company that was the inventor of their own demise by way of the digital camera. Link is trying to position itself just after ‘the chasm’, where the early-mainstream adopters can be found and just at the top of that curve with the late-majority adopters, ready for the next innovation.
Link’s reference architecture
At the heart of our strategy remains our reference architecture. This is a cohesive representation of the line-of-business applications, the ERP and productivity core, and the customer experience within the business and culture, and systems and technology environments.
From our reference architecture, our strategy is then based on six essential themes:
- Customer experience aims to treat customer interactions in multiple channels as part of a single unified experience (e.g. through text messaging, social media or chatbots) to make all interactions as easy and seamless as possible.
- Digital facilitation is a panoptic vision which encapsulates all aspects of service delivery to our customers, comprising five core values: access to devices; access to the internet; digital skills’ development; engagement with the digital economy; and digital transformation.
- Integrated ICT and digital services aim to improve the provision of well-managed services by making them more integrated. It is the maintenance and continual improvements of all digital and ICT assets and aims to increase internal staff and customers’ user experiences.
- Security and compliance are intended to consistently provide Link and its customers with continual assurance that all security risks are being appropriately managed.
- Innovation will take the process used by the Scottish Government’s renowned CivTech programme and develop a similar model for Link’s internal innovation.
- Insight seeks to make the best possible use of our data. It is essential that we obtain value from our data to ensure all levels of management have the insights needed to inform decisions and report accurately. To that end, data will be considered as a core asset just as physical properties are.
We are at the beginning of a new three-year course, charting our way through the choppy waters of uncertainty and opportunity. And with that, the days of dull IT strategies should be at an end.
Ken Fox is the head of ICT and digital services at Link Group.