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Doing good by the world: Digital transformation with a purpose

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(Image credit: Shutterstock / Blackboard)

Consumers now care more about technology that can reduce carbon emissions and remove plastics from the oceans than passenger space travel or house robots. That’s what we found when we surveyed 2,000 Britons last year.

Whether it’s helping the UK to reach its net-zero goals, supporting businesses in changing strategic direction, or helping the healthcare system to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s clear that consumers all agree on one thing: they want to see businesses use technology to act with a sense of purpose. They want technology to make a positive difference.

But intention needs to be backed up by execution. With many projects – like those aligned to Net Zero –set against ambitious but necessary timelines ensuring that new technologies are implemented effectively is of critical importance. Quality has arguably never been more important. In many industries, environmental pressures and consumer perceptions have made it critical for companies to adopt new technologies, whilst still providing a trusted and reliable service to their customers. By putting quality at the heart of their digital transformation, businesses can confidently look to the future, whilst ensuring minimal disruption to their business in the present.

Adopting agile as a force for good 

With staff and customers now expecting businesses to provide the highest possible levels of service and security at all times, it makes sense that digitalization has been catapulted to the top of the agenda for most. The purpose of focusing on quality when delivering change is to make sure that the end product works – this is no less critical when the rush to market is accelerated, but it is more challenging. To get it right, organizations must first master process maturity.

Adopting agile ways of working and iterative methodologies can help businesses to change direction at the drop of a hat, without impacting the quality of their services or customer experience. Over the past decade, this has shifted from being an attractive prospect, to an imperative as change is no longer seen as an option. An example is the oil and gas industry, where some of its biggest players have changed their strategic direction in response to stakeholder demands, and sustain their business into the future. 

In an agile environment, feedback loops and continuous improvement can elevate a company’s processes, speeding up delivery and minimizing waste along the way. When reaching towards a sustainable goal, having the support and reassurance of automated testing throughout enables the business to pivot quickly and confidently every time change comes its way – without compromising on its corporate mission.

Innovations spearheading the green tech revolution 

Technology will play a crucial role as the UK looks to progress towards its net-zero sustainability target. This is something we all need to work together on – and new technologies are providing consumers with the opportunity to contribute to global efforts to protect the planet too.

One such example is smart meters, which work by giving households greater visibility of their energy consumption, encouraging consumers to change their behaviors to achieve more accurate and lower bills by using less energy. 

But whilst households have traditionally been mere consumers of energy, we are now beginning to see homes with the capacity to generate, store, use and even sell their electricity on a much bigger scale. Thanks to advancements in home renewable energy systems and storage, as well as the rise of peer-to-peer trading platforms, we can expect to see households playing a much bigger part in the movement towards a more sophisticated system of renewable energy exchange across the UK. 

There is a huge opportunity for fast movers in the energy industry to introduce these new, flexible peer-to-peer trading platforms which will serve as an online marketplace where consumers and producers “meet” to trade electricity directly, without the need for an intermediary. 

We may also see energy companies offering different “as-a-Service” type offers for consumers, which sell packages based on outcomes, not units of energy. For example, an energy provider may offer a monthly rate to keep your house at a certain temperature, or a “driving-as-a-Service” package with an electric vehicle and a guarantee of a certain level of charge at all times.

Pioneering companies looking to implement these technologies and models will need to consider quality assurance and rigorous testing, which will be a critical component in delivering service continuity and a strong user experience. If done correctly, these innovations will help to relieve the strain on the national supply as well as improving our personal carbon footprints.

Using DevOps to develop a competitive advantage  

DevOps has huge potential to Combine cultural change and automation to deliver business value. It is, therefore, another key tool for businesses to efficiently build, test and bring the software that powers green tech to market. 

It allows users to operate new software effectively and takes lessons learned into the next round of development, allowing for continuous improvement. This provides a great opportunity for businesses who want to implement positive change at a fast pace to suit the needs of their customers and employees. A best-in-class approach to DevOps should involve building in short cycles, meaning new products are released safely and quickly, as well as incorporating automation to reduce costs and risk of human error.

One common hurdle for organizations when it comes to implementing DevOps is finding people with the right skills. As well as technical know-how, communication and collaboration are essential at this stage of a successful digital transformation. In addition, whilst working towards a sustainable goal, it’s important to have people in the team who can think holistically and align their efforts to achieve the organization’s common purpose. Partnering with an external organization can provide the businesses with the capabilities and confidence to implement a successful DevOps approach. By providing the right people with the relevant skills and expertise, they can work together to bring their vision to fruition.

Stephen Magennis, Managing Director for the UK Technology Business, Expleo

Managing Director for the UK Technology Business, Expleo.