Why NHS Test and Trace’s latest IT blunder is a lesson to us all
It baffles me that some 16,000 who had tested positive for COVID-19 did not have their information uploaded to the Test and Trace system because it was reliant on a 13-year-old legacy IT and, as it turns out, a complicated Excel sheet.
This then caused a daunting backlog of phone calls that needed to be made quickly to inform an estimated 40,000 people that they may have COVID-19 and would need to self-isolate. It then turns out that this was just the tip of the iceberg - the phones came crashing down, unable to cope with the unprecedent load on the system. The technology was not fit for purpose; a ridiculously important purpose.
The knock-on effect of NHS Test and Trace’s blunder has been catastrophic. Aside from the health risks involved, at a time when the Government needed public trust the most, its reputation has suffered thanks for the failure of its system. All because of poor technology solutions.
Whether you are running a large company, enterprise or Government, this error is a stark reminder to us as to how important flexible, scalable communications systems are in dealing with the strains of sudden, heightened demand. It highlights exactly why organisations must prioritise technology solutions which enable them to deliver what their customers’ needs whatever is thrown at them - all while remaining secure.
Those that implement strategies that are more digital, data-driven and cloud-based, will be the ones to thrive moving forwards. Being agile through the leverage of new cloud technologies and the removal of legacy applications, will be the first and most important factor in the journey to business continuity, wider business transformation and, ultimately, long term success.
So, what should decision-makers have at the forefront of their minds when considering what steps to take when it comes to implementing more flexible, scalable IT?
- Migration is key: Gone are the days of fixed on-premise technology. Unless the majority of a business sits in the cloud, leaders will simply not be able to realise the full potential of the company when it comes to efficiency, resilience, productivity, flexibility and service.
- Stay secure: Protecting businesses to ensure long term resilience needn’t be difficult or expensive - often new IT infrastructure is not required. Look for weaknesses in the supply chain, counterfeiting and new potential cyber threats.
- Partner well: Invest in long term technology relationships that are right for your business and that allow you to leverage expertise and innovation, which you may not have in-house.
- Understand customer needs: Always put your customers first. Analysing customer behaviours using the correct technology will be key to building a more personal and less transactional approach to operating. Coping with spikes in demand by using flexible, scalable comms systems will also be crucial to operating smoothy and avoiding potential down time.
- Remember your team: Moving to upgraded flexible technology solution should ultimately make teams less stressed, more efficient, more productive, and happier. However, do not forget the journey to getting there. Leaders should take the reins, leading from the front to organise and attend regular training to ensure every member of the company is getting the most out of any new platforms implemented.