In the old world, before a business opted to deploy a new IT system, they would set up a team of people to study different systems in depth. After 6 or 9 months, often more, of meetings and desk research, the business would then be faced with a £multi-million investment decision.

The board would find it difficult to be completely comfortable with that risk – whatever they did they would to a certain extent be flying blind. And once the investment decision was taken, there would be a worrying period while you found out whether your choice was sound or whether, TSB style, you had a new and bigger problem on your hands. The palliative vendor’s words promising ease of deployment would ring hollow as armies of developers and consultants strove vainly to configure the enterprise apps to match the promises made.

Such problems were far from rare - we have all come across people having headaches with new system investments! The prime reason for this was the lumpy, all or nothing, nature of such systems. Similarly if you wanted to upgrade the way of working, you would be faced with a lengthy, complex project with a high risk of cost and time overruns.

Wouldn’t it be better if vendors let you run a meaningful trial and prove the measurable outcomes first? What if that could be done in a few weeks for a modest sum and with proof of previous success?

In the new world of digital systems and Software as a Service, providers such as 360Globalnet are giving clients a much better way to work:

· Digital enables fundamentally far more effective client processes;

· Systems are hosted in the cloud with the provider, rather than in-house IT, taking care of all maintenance, support and hosting;

· Configuration can be undertaken quickly and easily by business users rather than IT specialists;

· You don’t have to write off those core systems of record; and

· Charging is on a Pay as You Go basis driven by usage.

This last point is especially important – Pay As You Go means clients have the option of trialling the platform for a couple of months with a project team of perhaps just two or three operations people. At the end of three months you have an easy choice – move to full implementation with real confidence and certainty, or simply hand back the technology, without having incurred any real cost.

There are many important implications for businesses:

· The process of considering which technology to use needs to be much more agile and action oriented, incorporating small scale trials, making incremental improvements, testing and measuring as you go, so that business benefit can be evidenced.

· The decision should be driven far more by the business, as the SAAS model means there is less role for conventional IT, who are likely resist moving to a world which gives them a reduced role.

· Project managers need to embrace this agile way of working, continually making small improvements and then rolling out to production.

· The new breed of IT director will focus on how to get the business using the best tools for the job, and will not be biased in favour of building solutions in house - one IT Director I especially admire frequently says “My job is to build as little as possible” - rather they can focus on data management, connectivity, standards and security, with an increasing chunk of the remainder undertaken by third party SaaS providers.

· The argument of “we don’t have the resources” to move ahead now is no longer valid – this way of working can be driven by the people who do the work, rather than armies of change agents and IT staff. In one of our clients we have claims handlers who use our system to configure and improve processes themselves – they no longer have to ask IT for enhancements, but literally can decide in the morning to improve a process and have it done by the afternoon. This is a profound change in their role, and does require some new skills, but it makes their jobs much more interesting and satisfying – they now feel they have what they need, not only to do the work but importantly to also enable them to do the work in the best possible way. And the fast payback on deploying digital in this iterative fashion means any resources invested are recouped very quickly.

· Operational leadership needs to be comfortable with devolving responsibility and build teams capable of working in the new way. This requires them to have a detailed understanding of what their teams actually do married with a vision of how technology can help or hinder that. And they need to develop performance systems that allow them to measure and monitor the progress that is being achieved.

· Change management is also simplified as the new tools are highly intuitive and very easy to work with. So more change can be accomplished faster.

Digital leaders will need to embrace these changes - the prize is that there is an option to move rapidly to a streamlined way of working which:

· does not need upfront investment of major IT resource or cash;

· can be business led, starting with a small scale pilot;

· has almost no implementation risk;

· roll out can be based on a high level of confidence of the ensuing benefits

· will deliver substantial service and cost improvements from the outset.


Simon Yun-Farmbrough