Welcome to The Week in Digital Transformation, our regular round-up of the most interesting news, ideas and research from the past week to shed light on the mysterious process of “digital transformation”.

This week, the UK government is getting on board with voice in a bid to make government accessible in new ways, and one of the largest NHS trusts in the UK is creating its own electronic patient records system to deliver integrated healthcare.

Meanwhile, another survey has revealed the pressure being put on leaders to deliver digital transformation, with research by Couchbase discovering that 83% of IT and digital leaders fear that they could lose their jobs over failed digital transformation. And the CEO of cloud-based collaboration software Box weighs in on the “key” to digital transformation: this week, it’s company data.

OK, GOV.UK: What are you doing to optimise for voice?

With global smart speaker ownership rising steadily year-on-year, more and more brands are doing what they can to make their content discoverable and accessible to voice devices – including government brands.

The UK’s Government Digital Service recently published a detailed summary of its attempts to make government content voice-friendly and provide a consistent user experience across different voice assistants and voice-enabled devices. While the GDS team (which is responsible for managing GOV.UK, the UK government’s digital portal) had experience creating apps and skills for voice assistants, they “wanted to find out if it was possible to support all the major voice platforms without having to build apps for each one”.

The Government Digital Service demonstrates how Google Assistant uses its content to answer common questions about learning to drive

The GDS post includes steps that the team took to make their content more voice-accessible (including using different types of Schema markup for news, guidance and “step-by-step journeys”), and handy insights into exactly how voice assistants work, where they draw their information from, and how to write a good voice answer.

It makes for highly informative reading, and could serve as a very useful starting point for any brand that wants to get to grips with voice and isn’t sure where to begin.

How the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is making healthcare digital

The healthcare sector is ripe for digital disruption and transformation. Econsultancy’s recent interview with AXA PPP Healthcare’s Richard Cooper highlighted some of the exciting opportunities presented by the increasingly widespread availability of health technology – as well as the challenges faced by healthcare brands in getting consumers to trust them with their most sensitive data.

The NHS might face the biggest challenge of all when it comes to modernising its infrastructure and establishing a reputation for digital excellence, but one of its largest trusts is taking the plunge anyway. The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is building a bespoke electronic patient records system which aims to deliver integrated, patient-focused healthcare for 800,000 people in the region.

ZDNet details how the trust is using open standards to make its electronic health records (EHR) compatible with more than 40 additional systems across the hospital, and plans to go mobile later this year. The system will also transition from on-premise to cloud-based in the next three years.

Other futuristic plans for the service include implementing a chatbot to help clinicians search the EHR for patient notes via voice, and using machine learning to automate the process of finding the right medical records amongst hundreds of documents, saving clinicians time and energy.

Best of all, the new system is cost-effective: Chief Digital and Information Officer for the trust, Richard Corbridge, told ZDNet that Leeds has one of the cheapest technology functions in the NHS with an annual cost of just £3 million. By contrast, a comparative off-the-shelf solution could cost the trust as much as £35 million over five years.

And in other digital transformation news from the NHS this week: Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock vowed to overhaul the NHS IT network in a lengthy Facebook post published after he was present during an overnight shift at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital where he witnessed staff reverting to pen and paper. So perhaps we can expect to see more systems like Leeds’ across the country soon.

IT managers believe that digital transformation could make or break their careers

In last week’s digital transformation roundup we looked at results from a survey by KPCG which illuminated the huge pressure and inflated expectations that are being placed on UK CEOs with regard to digital transformation.

This week brings more grim findings about the pressure placed on leaders to succeed with digital transformation: a survey of 450 IT and digital leaders conducted by Couchbase found that 83% fear that they could be fired if their digital transformation efforts are unsuccessful.

Other sobering highlights from the research include:

  • The survey’s authors estimate that spend on digital will average $28 million per organisation, and 52% of digital leaders surveyed believe that there is great potential for these investments to be wasted.
  • Digital transformation is more reactive than proactive: 35% of respondents reported that advances by competitors are the primary driver for digital transformation, 23% say changes in regulation, and 20% say pressure from customers.
  • The scale of the task at hand is overwhelming: 95% of respondents agreed that digital transformation can seem an insurmountable task.

But it’s not all bad news. The survey by Couchbase also found that a majority of organisations with well-supported and thought-out transformation strategies:

  • reported increased productivity (65%)
  • had a better business end-user experience (65%)
  • improved their compliance (69%)
  • were expanding into new regions (62%)
  • and had improved the customer experience (55%).

The “key” to digital transformation: Company data

And now it’s time for a reprise of our regular feature: “the key to digital transformation”.

If this is your first Week in Digital Transformation, every week we manage to find a new headline (or several) that declares one specific thing is the “key” to digital transformation. It might be a technological innovation, a skill, or an attitude.

This week’s “key” comes from Aaron Levie, the CEO of cloud-based content management and collaboration software Box, who spoke at the company’s BoxWorks event in San Francisco on the need for businesses to embrace digital transformation on a greater scale. The key to this, according to Levie, is data.

“The future of work is going to be defined by how we get the most out of our data,” Levie declared.

Levie observed that organisations are often hamstrung in their digital transformation attempts by legacy infrastructure and data silos. But he also stated that companies have no choice but to change the way they operate:

We know that business is fundamentally different today. We know that something’s going on in terms of how our organisations operate and how our competition works.

The only way to respond to this is to operate in a totally different way – every company must become a digital business.

Come to the Festival of Marketing on 10-11 October for more inspiring brand digital transformation stories and best practice advice.

Or take our Fast Track Digital Transformation training course.