What Smart Organisations Can Learn from Smart Cities

By Torque Management, Monday, 16th May 2016 | 0 comments
Filed under: Business Process Management, IT Projects, Big Data, Low Code, Digitization, Digitalization.

We love to measure things, you might have gathered this from our recent blog posts on what to measure, and how to make those measures count. Hopefully the biggest learning you’ll have taken from these is that we need to make our data useful. Today, we're taking a look at what organisations can learn from some great smart city initiatives.

Smart Cities is a term that describes “...use of digital technologies or information and communication technologies to enhance the quality and performance of urban services, to reduce costs and resource consumption and to engage more effectively and actively with its citizens.” [Source] And it’s exactly the approach organisations should be taking when it comes to technology.

The real beauty behind a ‘smart’ city, is when they use the data they already have to inform smart, strategic decisions that make use of new technology to solve the most pressing problems. When a city or a business understands the value of what they're measuring, rules and required actions can be digitised to effect an immediate response. In New York, data analysis and actions are becoming more closely linked to each other. They're implementing detection of rubbish levels in containers to optimize the trash collection routes.

Another project in LA is a is having a direct impact on thousands of drivers already. A common and avoidable mistake when it comes to being 'smart' is expecting that any new technology added to a city or organisation will magically solve all your problems. Traffic congestion is a huge problem in LA where walking, cycling and public transport are not the most popular options. They’re now using cameras and magnetic sensors to control approximately 4,500 traffic signals and it’s already reducing traffic cramming by up to 16 percent.

Meanwhile, London has added solar-powered benches that you can charge your phone on. While this might be useful to some, is it really a top priority for a city? In my own experience, which isn’t backed up by data yet, many citizens will happily bring their charger in their bag or a small battery pack if they’re expecting their phone to die during the course of the day and I’ve never met a barman who wouldn’t plug your phone in for you when you're stuck. A solar powered charging station is funky, I’m just not sure it should have been at the top of the list.

A company with a great new digital or tech offering might have the smartest, savviest sales pitch in the world. While optimism and exploring new options or additions is great, it’s equally important to take the time to assess how this new offering might be implemented in the workplace.

How much does it cost to get everyone using it well and using it consistently? What’s the margin for errors and delays. Are these worth the pay-off? What is the pay off? Most importantly, will it be adopted and how long will it last?  We know that In today’s fickle world of digital fashion vast sums of money are spent on technology that is semi-adopted and that 50% of apps lose half their users after 3 months.  This leaves the traditional way of measuring value and return on investment on the floor.   

What can we learn from this?  Building a business case is no longer just about selling a new initiative to your team or your boss, it’s about examining the real benefits and the challenges to make an informed decision. If you’re looking at diving into low-code apps for process digitisation, adding new devices to your production methods or even just looking at a new system for employee communications, make sure you’re examining your biggest current problems, and check thoroughly that implementing new technology or software solutions solves that problem. If you’ve got the data to back up your assumptions about what your biggest problems are, you’re half way there.

For assistance examining process efficiency in your organisation, digitising processes, or implementation of IT/ERP systems or other new technology in your organisation, contact us.

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