Reimagining Digital in a COVID-19 World

It was only a few months ago that many organisations were predicting a multi-year timescale to become fully ‘digital’. Thanks to the coronavirus crisis, those same organisations are now wondering why they didn’t make the change sooner.

But it’s not always clear how to actually make the transition to a more holistic way of digital working. In Breakfast Briefing #11, led by Golden Marzipan Partners: Steve Dungworth and Andrew Giles; we explained how you can go digital with pace and with ease.

It’s as easy as ABC…

Cartoon strip of company discussing digital strategy

A – Agility

An agile organisation is one that is flexible and adaptable. It has the resources necessary to enable as many staff as possible to work remotely should they need to; and portable internet-enabled devices, VPNs, and a sufficiently sized IT team have become de rigeur.

Deep into lockdown as we now are, this description will likely sound familiar. But as many organisations discovered at the start of the pandemic, a lack of agility can cause all kinds of difficulty.

We call this ‘friction’, and as we keep hearing with Brexit, we want the operation to become as ‘frictionless’ as possible.

Common examples in the housing sector include:

  • Making surveyors carry laptops when assessing awkward spaces such as lofts
  • Using VPNs for remote access when the application in question is already in the Cloud
  • Insisting board members use laptops when they use an iPad at every other meeting

Sometimes friction is necessary. Take passwords for example. They may be a pain to type every time you boot up your computer, but to go without would significantly weaken the security of your device.

The key is to get the balance right. Forcing employees to type in a different 15-digit password every time they open an application may keep your data secure. But if it takes them more than an hour to send one email, you probably won’t have much data to protect in the first place.

Golden Marzipan barriers to digital adoption

B – Big data

They say data is the new oil. But while we all collect unquantifiable amounts of the stuff, few of us know how to actually use it.

As an organisation, you will be privy to large amounts of information on your employees. By looking into this data and analysing it, you may be able to identify inefficiencies and problems you’d otherwise miss.

Steve can attest: “Last time I listened in to some contact-centre conversations, I estimated that over 80% had some sort of deviation from the intended standard,” he says.

“Mostly it was well intentioned, but not what leaders had intended!”

You can use data to improve your service offer to tenants/customers, too. In a COVID world, for example, you need to know if vulnerable individuals are self-isolating, and you may need to know about their financial situation in order to provide help with things like rent.

As with Agility, though, the key here is to strike a balance. Look out for tenants/customers’ welfare, but make sure to respect their privacy. And always keep GDPR in mind.

C – Channel shift

Streaming music instead of buying CDs. That’s channel shift. Sending an email instead of a letter. That’s channel shift. Buying a ‘Quarantini’ Birthday card online for your mother instead of going into the shop. Yes, Andrew, that too is channel shift.

Channel shift happens all the time, at home and at work. And though most transitions encounter at least some resistance, once the change is made it’s almost always for the better.

As housing associations, consider the following:

  • Switching from an inbound to outbound telephone service – individuals will generally appreciate the check-in, especially the vulnerable
  • Simplifying your processes – get rid of all the gratuitous paperwork and bureaucracy
  • Using chatbots and AI to take care of the simple stuff – non-urgent queries and payment processing don’t always require human mediation

Bear in mind, however, that organisations tend to operate at different speeds when it comes to channel shift. Some are ‘nudgers’, while others are ‘shovers’. Historically, the sector has been more of a nudger; though the advent of COVID-19 has seen all housing associations rapidly channel shift as staff adapt to remote working.

Consider what type of organisation you were before the crisis? Were you a nudger or a shover? What type do you want to be going forward?

Golden Marzipan - abc of digital transformation

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Our ABCs of COVID-19 fall into the fourth stage of McKinsey’s 5R framework: Reimagine. Taken together, we believe the five stages provides a clear path to #navigatingthecrisis and beyond.If you would like a copy of our more detailed briefing pack contact

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