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Digital transformation needs more than just infrastructure to succeed

28 April 2015

What’s the good news from our recent research into how charities are shaping up for their digital future? They’re upping their ambitions around digital transformation and are prioritising digital delivery of services. The bad news? They’re failing to do the things they need to do in order to succeed.

This is what we’ve found in our report “Creating the Right Environment for Digital Transformation.”

The starting point for digital transformation is strategy and leadership. When we asked digital leads in charities what was stopping them from progressing on the digital agenda, they said while the imperative for digital transformation was well understood, how to formulate and drive an effective digital agenda throughout the organisation was lacking.

There’s also a shortfall in the infrastructure charities need to take advantage of digital transformation. Around half of UK charities (51%) say they do not have the people they need to support digital transformation of services while a similar number (53%) don’t have the right IT in place to support those changes.

Working together

Given these issues, it is unsurprising to find one in seven charity leaders are failing to work effectively with their IT teams to plan ahead and identify future priorities.

Taking a step back from the detail of our research, the bigger picture which emerges is one where charities face a substantial gap in their ability to prepare for a digital future. To bridge this gap, charities need to reset the way they approach digital transformation.

This means moving away from treating IT and digital teams like service providers and harnessing them as partners and agents for change. It means identifying and building the people skills necessary to thrive in a digital world. It means realising success in digital transformation requires fundamental organisational transformation.

There is no doubt it’s hugely positive to see the extent to which charities are moving beyond communications and marketing in their digital focus. Yet achieving those new ambitions will require a step change in the thinking and infrastructure charities put in place. This has to be driven by those at the top so the rest of the organisation can follow.

See the slides from our digital transformation conference in May 2015.

John Simcock

charities director, Eduserv

John is business development director - charities and third sector at Eduserv, a not-for-profit provider of IT services. He helps some of the leading UK charities in planning and executing digital and IT initiatives.