Three business leaders, from three very different sectors, came together with one key thing in common—during the COVID-19 pandemic, they were tasked with helping their organisations accelerate digital transformation. At Workday Elevate Digital Experience 2021 in the UK, Michael Cole, chief technology officer of the European Tour and Ryder Cup Europe, Lucy Becque, chief people officer of Coventry Building Society, and Peter Keery, finance transformation director of Veolia UK, discussed their digital journeys and what lies ahead.
Today’s appetite to accelerate digital should come as no surprise, given the plethora of benefits it brings. A recent study from IDC showed that digital-first organisations are twice as profitable and deliver eight times the revenue of their non-digital peers in the industry. Those are compelling numbers. But, while COVID-19 has been a catalyst for change, the shift to digital has not happened overnight. The past decade has seen organisations move at varying speeds to embrace digital, with some plotting a modest path to transformation.
Cutting Complexity and Supporting Growth Are Key Digital Drivers
Technology and sport are becoming increasingly intertwined, so it’s no surprise to see an elite sporting organisation leading from the front. Michael Cole of the European Tour and Ryder Cup Europe understands the importance of digital in making sure the European tour has the ability to deal with an increasingly complex business model and a demanding calendar.
“Our regular schedule is played across 44 tournaments in 31 countries. In fact, our closed season is just three days. This makes golf, in my view, one of the most operationally demanding and complex sports in the industry. Therefore, the business processes to support these incredible operations and complexity are immense,” said Cole. “Technology and digital transformation are needed to truly automate and simplify these processes and drive change. In the last few years, the European Tour has really stepped up and accelerated its digital transformation, and in fact, we’re now widely seen as being a leading advocate in the adoption of technology in sport.”
Veolia UK may be more focused on resource management and ecological transformation than elite sport, but the organisation’s acquisition strategy, growth, and increasingly disparate IT estate mean that handling complexity is also a major priority.
“Veolia itself is a really complex organisation,” said Peter Keery, finance transformation director of Veolia UK. “We’ve grown really quickly in the UK, and a key challenge for us has been ensuring that we bring all those different businesses together and offer a consistent customer and employee experience wherever possible. Many of our day-to-day activities are quite manual in their nature and held together at times by what really felt like sheer hard work and sticky tape, but our digital acceleration programme is making significant inroads.”
Coventry Building Society’s Lucy Becque approaches digital acceleration from two distinct perspectives: the customer’s and the employee’s. For both, digital is completely changing the game.
“On the customer side, if I look at what’s underpinned the society’s success, it’s been very much the human interactions, the service that’s delivered by our people to our members. But the digital experience has not been anywhere near as strong. So the challenge for us is, How do you provide more choices without losing what made you brilliant in the past?” Becque said.
Pre-pandemic, Coventry Building Society had approximately a few hundred people on any given day working from home. Now, it’s a couple of thousand.
As Becque said, “We have seen huge digital transformation in the people space. We went live with Workday in September 2020, so we’ve gone through an enormous amount of change to make sure that our employees are able to operate as effectively as possible.”