Suhail Mirza weighs in on why the margins of success and failure for Digital Transformation projects can be very close to one another.
Question 5 – Can you give any examples of projects which have been either successful or have failed and what are the distinguishing factors between those two?
“If I look at a couple of mainstream business sectors that I’ve been involved in and have been advisory and board level for decades. I’ll start with those and then I’ll give an outlier if I may. Within recruitment, people, business and technology are completely ubiquitous today. There’s been many examples now of where businesses have taken technology to take the logarithmic approach of recruitment out of the recruiter’s hands and provide digital and technical support for that. That hasn’t been threatening because the recruiter can use the value and knowledge he or she has to deliver value for the business. I’ve seen that being implemented very successfully by recruiters in technology, healthcare and technical staffing. On the flipside I’ve also seen recruiters who’ve decided that rather than getting expertise in, they will create their own digital transformation program, and in some cases that has led to catastrophic failure for them and cost, time, resource, brand impairment. Both of those things are the flipside of getting it right first time and being clear. In healthcare, I have seen within social care, looking after the elderly sector where, I’ve had a family business which we’ve had for twelve years; technology and digital platforms have been fabulous in helping deal with loneliness among the elderly, people who live on their own and digital platforms that allow real-time information and communication. That’s worked well. I’ve known that digital commissioning groups in London have used digital platforms and pathways that have alleviated the pressure on A and E and hospital readmission. That has been brilliant for the taxpayer and brilliant obviously for the patients. Failure on the healthcare side, I think the obvious one that most people will know is that digitalization and putting patient records in a electronic format became a huge project, well trailed in the newspapers was a disastrous failure. Probably, it wasn’t done in a segmented way and expectations were so high, it was trying to eat the elephant in one go rather than chunk by chunk. The slightly outlying area, I’m involved in a business that provides tools and platforms to help people who are facing a crisis of meaning or spirituality, I’ve written a book about that. That seems to be as far away from the digital world as you can imagine, however, since the publication of my book, I’ve been ratified to receive comments from my readers around the world who’ve said that the book was able to reach them through digital platforms and in some cases has transformed their lives when they were in a place of tremendous darkness. Whatever the book sales might be, just getting that type of feedback where a digital facilitation has been allowing me to reach people I never would have imagined otherwise is something to be celebrated.”