Building commitment to digital transformation

The University of Edinburgh shows what it takes to build momentum and commitment for lasting transformation.

In an Econsultancy article by Karl Havard called “Digital transformation: It’s not a destination”, Karl makes the point that “you should move your focus away from the destination and to the pace of your transformation”.

I’d add to that the need to build transformation momentum across a portfolio of activities, not just a series of projects.

It’s great to see exactly that happening at the University of Edinburgh. Under the direction of Edinburgh’s Chief Information Officer and Digital Transformation Portfolio Owner Gavin McLachlan, Edinburgh is aiming for far reaching change.

Our goal is to adopt new ways of working in order to continue delivering our mission in the face of changing technology, competition, audience needs and behaviour.

Edinburgh’s Digital Transformation website

In a review of the online student experience “Transforming student digital lives at the University of Edinburgh”, in the spring of 2016, we highlighted many examples of poor user experience (UX) arising from a lack of human-centred design, inconsistent standards and lack of integration between services. The insights provided by the study showed that the overall online experience provided by the University is falling short of student expectations.

One of the areas being addressed by Edinburgh is notifications. Our report highlighted the “lack of notifications for current students” as one example of the “you’re bright, you’ll cope” approach to digital service that has historically prevailed. The University is now transforming task-related communications based on an efficient and personalised notifications service.

Another area being addressed is student experiences on the MyEd portal. To quote the University’s project documentation, “The work will follow the Dashboard concept proposed by Headscape and its idea of top tasks for a student, not systems. The new design will use a task-based structure that is cohesive and easily understandable”.

Cutting across the functional projects, Edinburgh is building on its existing Global Experience Language, EdGEL, to define digital experience standards and UX services.

Edinburgh’s approach is not a token nod to digital transformation. It is a wholehearted commitment led from the highest level and reaching across the University.