“We dare not look under the hood into the big deep problems, we build digital garnish to distract from the problems.”
It’s clear that the Pandemic is going to re-shape the economy and society in general for years to come. Sadly, Covid-19 looks like it will further embed inequality across many important areas of life – education, health, and social mobility to name a few. As a society we are going to have to work very hard and think more clearly than ever before to repair the damage just to get back to where we were, never mind doing even better.
In the professional world that I inhabit – broadly speaking, digital transformation – Covid has already exposed a big inequality. The gap between those organisations who had already mastered modern ways of working, smart use of data and intelligent exploitation of cloud technology have found the last 6 months easier to cope with than those that haven’t. This point may sound trivial or even flippant compared to the social inequalities referenced above, but it’s not, it’s very serious and directly linked.
In order to repair the damage caused by Covid-19 the UK needs a thriving economy with companies not only starting up but also scaling up to generate the tax revenues and job opportunities so desperately needed in the coming years. We will also need public services that are efficient, responsive and data driven. Both sectors will need to solve the productivity puzzle that the UK has struggled with for so long now.
In truth, this widening organisational inequality has been taking place for some time. Covid, in common with so many other things, has merely accelerated a trend that was already happening. I found this post by Tom Godwin on Linkedin the other day – I always enjoy his observations on the modern corporate world but I wanted to share this as a perfect description of where digital transformation has stalled:
“We have prioritization in Digital Transformation wrong.
We rightly start with projects that are easy and make a big difference, but then move to easy, but pointless, rather than transformative, but hard.
This explains why your bank is building on code from the 1950’s but has a Pepper Robot in one branch, while changing your flight on BA takes a phone call and 10 mins with the repricing department, but you can order food on an app in the lounge. It explains why retailers have no idea where their inventory is in real time, but there is a new AR app to try on sunglasses.”
The next phase of digital transformation has to be, in Tom’s words, “transformative but hard.” The rewards on the other side are our best shot of supporting the rebound needed to heal our social and economic scars.
With all this in mind we’ve been working with the founders and leaders of companies across The Panoply Group to develop a new proposition, bringing together some of our combined delivery capabilities into one entity. An entity that relishes and is well equipped to deliver “Transformative but Hard.”
So with that slightly scary but also exciting backdrop I am hugely excited to be launching our new business – Foundry4. We are creating a foundry for the digital age combining the research and insights of DisruptionHub, the consulting and delivery expertise of Arthurly (Cloud and Engineering), the automation specialism of Human+ and the product delivery and build nous of Notbinary (Data, Cloud, and Engineering). This great collection of businesses are all supported by the elegant scaled engineering team model of Questers.
This is just the most talented group of people that I could have hoped to work with in these circumstances… Founders, entrepreneurs, automation specialists, the highest quality software engineers, hard core product professionals and more. Remarkable not only for their technical and professional skills but also for their mindset – people who have been agitating for digitally driven change for over a decade with an appetite to tackle the difficult but important. Experts that love to learn and to share those learnings generously. Those who are sincerely excited by the opportunity of modern technology for society but who are pragmatic enough to know how genuinely difficult this huge shift is for many of our most important institutions.
We have brought together people and specialisms that can create or cast the tools, platforms, product and services upon which our ambitious clients can own their change and create sustainable futures for themselves.
Foundry4 marks the next chapter in that success story and we are looking forward to repaying the faith of our early backers with even more comprehensive, broad and deep services.
Over the coming week you are going to start seeing these changes more visibly. Let’s move on from the garnish and start to tuck into the main course.
See you on the other side.
Is there carbon in your cloud?
With all the government clients I have worked with ‘cloud first’ is always followed (or at least aspired to) and frequently talked about. Guidance on how to create and implement a cloud hosting strategy refers to capability, cost and data storage requirements of your organisation's unique set of needs, but not the needs of the planet.
Avoid learning too many lessons from these ‘unprecedented times’
The big thing I keep reminding people is while there will be lessons to learn from all this we need to take them with a grain of salt. These are not normal times and the change in attitudes is probably a lot more fragile than some people think.
Impact beyond Alpha
4-8 weeks of a Discovery or Alpha project is a fleeting time for us to accomplish our mission: to help institutions embrace the opportunities of the internet era. What can we try to extend our impact beyond the confines of the project.