Let me tell you a story about a logistics company that implemented a new computer system to streamline their logistics… as part of the update, the programmers had to configure the system to work with the company’s processes but at one point, a programmer noticed something strange…

‘We’re configuring a system so the lorries do the longer journeys at the beginning of the week and the shorter journeys at the end of the week’. Significantly she asked why…

…eventually someone said, “Oh, it’s because that’s when the horses used to get tired”.

This encapsulate some of the challenges involved in driving digital transformation. Rolling out new technology is one thing, but changing the way an organisation is designed is quite another.

Successful digital transformation requires re-imagination. That’s the difference between digitisation and digital transformation. Digitisation is when you take a legacy process and make it digital. Digital transformation is when you rethink the way you do something in a digital world.

People have developed business processes and gradually, as they go through digitalisation, they have fossilised those processes into their systems. Consider where digital transformation is really successful, it’s where people have re-imagined their process, taken a step back and asked what they want to achieve, then looked at that balance of people, process and technology. It’s about re-imagining the relationship between a human and the technology.

The Scottish Government’s digital strategy, ‘Realising Scotland’s full potential in a digital world’, sets out its commitment to making Scotland a world leader in the area. The strategy is based around creating 150,000 new tech jobs, better use of data and analytics, harnessing digital capabilities across the economy, the expansion of digital public services and an increase in digital skills.

We had shared goals, shared responsibilities, trying to work together to make the Scottish Government a better place and a better technology environment.

Davie Gow

Ministers will need support if they are to achieve their digital ambitions. Davie Gow, Leidos’ chief portfolio architect for public sector and critical national infrastructure, recently returned from a six-month, not-for-profit collaborative engagement with the Scottish Government, as part of the Digital Fellowship Scheme.

“We had shared goals, shared responsibilities, trying to work together to make the Scottish Government a better place and a better technology environment,” he said. “From my perspective, that means taking account of our customer’s customers and our fellow suppliers – that’s why collaboration is so important.”

Our success is the customer’s success, and that means understanding what the customer mission is so we can put it at the heart of what we do. As one of the founding members of the Institute of Collaborative Working, Leidos is one of the first organisations in the country to achieve ISO 44001 – the international standard for collaborative working in business. Collaboration underpins everything we do.

To achieve mission success, you need to have a high-performing collaborative team – not just within an organisation like Leidos, and not just with the customer, but within the entire ecosystem of people that are delivering the outcome, because it is very rarely one organisation that’s solely responsible for a customer’s success. Re-imaging customer success required fresh ideas that may sit outside of traditional supplier-client relationship.

Simon Daykin is Chief Technology Officer UK at Leidos.