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In the Digital Transformation Marathon … Speed Matters

22 November 2021

Lithe Chief Commercial Officer  –  Brendan McNabb.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint … right? Not really. In our experience successful Digital Transformation programs are both.
 
In January 2019, the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) announced a 10-year digital transformation plan, setting ambitions through to 2029. The plan put digital technologies and improved data management at the core of the NHS’s future, to improve access for patients and staff to critical information and services. Many organizations have similarly ambitious and long-running plans.
 
While often inspiring, these plans usually raise a few eyebrows. Previous attempts to modernise the NHS, for example, had struggled. Reliant on sprawling legacy systems and complex processes to deliver one of the most valued and in demand services in the UK, the NHS’s ability to achieve its digital transformation was open to question.
 
Can large-scale change be successfully managed over a 10-year period? The surrounding context will itself change, inevitably and unpredictably – what then?

All change. Fast forward to today. In a proverbial heartbeat the context of our world changed radically in 2020, as the outbreak of the global pandemic jolted many norms.  Many people could only work from home. Planned investments were reallocated to meet the new context. Marathon projects were cancelled. More urgent priorities, newly emerging, took precedence.
 
The many digital transformation initiatives underway were forced to pivot, often radically. What became clear to digital transformation leaders was the importance, in their transformation marathon, of agility and speed. While the necessary underpinnings of digital transformation success remained in place (clear strategy, committed leadership, effective program management, etc.) the importance of speed and responsiveness jumped to the fore.
 
What’s new? The pandemic’s outbreak was hugely instructive to C-suite leaders in all organizations, especially because of the very suddenness of the disruption it caused. Forced to deal with overnight change in 2020, organizations quickly learned they don’t have the luxury of time when rolling out digital transformation. Time, rather, is an asset they cannot afford to waste. The takeaway is simple and powerful for digital transformation leaders – speed matters.
 
Digital transformation programs may have been conceived as marathon projects, such as in the NHS’s 10-year plan, but they must flex in direction and pace. Even if planned as long-running initiatives, they must be executed as frequent, fast sprints and each sprint must deliver tangible and valuable change.

 
Digital transformation at speed – a case study. Lithe customers appreciate that speed matters and know from working with us that rapid digital transformation is achievable.   

“We achieved in 1 week a digital transformation that had been planned as a 2-year project”.
Digital Transformation Executive.

A leading global multi-line insurer providing property & casualty and life insurance products and services in over 200 countries, faced challenges now commonplace in the post-pandemic world.
 
The insurer’s workforce was suddenly displaced to home offices ill-equipped to support document-centric, knowledge-intensive work. Employees struggled to continue their work in underwriting, insurance claim processing, and other processes where quick and secure access to inbound documents is essential. Thousands of team members suffered disruption to their document-centric processes. They needed more than instant messaging and video call technology. A solution to digitally transform document-centric processes and support remote working was needed quickly.  
 
Lithe implemented within one week a solution for the entire displaced insurer workforce, rapidly switching document-centric operations to digital document processing in quick response to the disruption of the pandemic. We not only implemented a digital mailroom, replacing the physical flow of inbound documents with an entirely digital and secure distribution of documents to remote workers anywhere, but also provided a browser-based digital workplace enabling underwriters, claims agents, policy administration workers and others to execute document-centric workflows quickly and collaborate effectively.
 
Meeting an urgent need to supply inbound documents to ~2,000 remote workers in over 600 teams, the cloud-based Lithe Digital Documents solution integrates to the insurer’s corporate identity authorization systems to enforce corporate security standards while ensuring ease of access for employees working remotely.
 
Document recipients interact with the documents in a consumer-grade user experience that requires no coding and no training. Lithe Digital Documents not only distributes documents in digital format but delivers the fast document workflow and effective team collaboration the insurer needs.
 
Rather than a traditional phased rollout, where only a small number of people can participate early, the Lithe solution impacted everyone within that first week, delivering a scale of benefit quickly that had not been envisioned in the insurer’s previous digital transformation plans.
 
Forced by sudden disruption to implement digital transformation at speed, the insurer has implemented a digital transformation that serves hybrid workers on an ongoing basis.
 
Speed and quality. While a marathon digital transformation program was already in place, the pandemic’s sudden impact forced a recalibration of the insurer’s 2-year plan. Executives in every organization face a similar challenge – accelerate the pace of digital transformation.
 
Yet, is speed dangerous? Will quality suffer if short-term action results in a hasty and poorly designed solution?
 
In our experience a culture of speed is essential, and it does not come at the expense of quality. In fact, a culture steeped in speed focuses better on what’s essential and prioritizes the aspects of quality that really matter. As a result, a culture of speed benefits every aspect of your organization … your employees, your customers, your partners, and suppliers, and ultimately your success. The faster the pace of change, the quicker the impact of improvements, and the more focused the effort on quality.
 
The insurer in our case study illustrates the point. Grasping the opportunity to achieve tangible impact by implementing Lithe Digital Documents in less than a week, the company then iterated to introduce additional levels of high-quality automation, e.g., using OCR (Optical Character Recognition) and other IDP (Intelligent Document Processing) technologies to further optimize document-centric processes.

Rapid and iterative change delivers digital transformation sooner, and it fuels a culture of quality by focusing on short term delivery of valuable outcomes.
Anthony Murphy, CEO at Lithe

No matter what sector you work in, it’s almost certain that you have an opportunity to implement digital transformation more quickly. Speed matters in every marathon.

Learn more. Contact us to discuss your challenges in digitally transforming document-centric work. Whether your requirement is to implement a digital mailroom, support remote working, achieve friction-free document workflow, or improve team collaboration, we can help. Request a demo or book a call today.

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