The Disabilities Trust; from Low Tech to High Tech

Nathan Baranowski

Nathan Baranowski talks at the Charity Technology Conference 2016 about technology change in the Charity sector

Charity

We are all facing that challenge today on how to focus resources in the best possible way to meet our charity's goals. The reality is that for many organisations, and certainly in the health and social care sector, they’re doing that with ever decreasing funds and being asked to deliver more with less.

Striking that balance between working with our social hearts and rationalising with our business minds is a constant battle. The same could be said of business more widely too.

We at ojo look with our business minds and hear with social hearts. We do that through a lens of technology so we can respond and correlate business challenges with outcomes. If we explore the use of technology and change the way we work we will save money. That money can be reinvested in people and their wages increased. Through technology we can take the pressure off; allowing a computer to compute and a human to engage.

Of course, in principle, it’s easy to accept technology is ‘the answer’ to achieving strategic goals but in practice, the transformation journey is often a challenging one. Over the last 16 years of working in technology it surprises me every time I go in to turn around a failing project that the same challenges come up… Lack of vision and robust business cases, poor quality control, lack of business engagement and leadership and too little too late or too much too soon. It often seems IT has been put in a corner, with the ‘let us know when you’re done’ attitude still prevailing.

Often it is the case that we don't want full scale transformation, but just get us that system or intranet.  And this is where many organisations go wrong. It is too often that IT projects start because of an ill-defined need; a system is perceived not to work so another is added without much thought of the real benefit. My challenge as a technology leader is to bring everyone on the journey; to enable the whole organisation to climb the mountain and be part of the change. IT cannot, and should not, be owned and delivered by a select few. It needs to be fully integrated into a business for success to happen.

Beginning transformation can feel like turning a large ocean liner, it takes time and is hard work unless everyone is going in the same direction.  Starting with a vision and agreeing on what we want can help immensely. Share thoughts on successes and failures, what is missing and where we need to be heading.  Striking for me, in facilitating such sessions over the years, is the increasing consensus that technology is needed and will / is playing an important role in our future.  

Understanding that technology if placed at the heart of our organisation and looking at our business through the lens of digital first can transform the we way we look at the world.   It can enable difficult conversations to be had, visions of future possibilities to be shared and for the unknown to be explored without fear.  

At the Disabilities Trust we have gone on this journey and we are still moving.  However because we are now aligned, share in our vision, the conversations are not about that thing over there that we do not understand but rather how we can improve, how we can use technology – information and assistive – to deliver better services and outcomes.  

By daring to dream we are now exploring how we can use AI, AR, smart solutions and robotics to create a different solution for people’s needs and how the cloud and strong information governance can deliver an exciting and inspiring new world.

 

In short,  Transformation is difficult, challenging and often frustrating.  Daring to dream, daring to share those dreams and daring together with childlike curiosity anything can be accomplished.

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