Keep calm – you have good bones
For some time now, we have increasingly heard about the need for disruption and disruptive technologies to drive a wave of innovation across industries and governments. That is often interpreted as management-speak for “replace all of that old ‘legacy’ stuff with some cool new stuff.” But the reality is that the old ‘legacy’ stuff continues to be an important foundation for transformation in many organizations.
The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly been disruptive beyond any historical precedent, with lockdowns, social distancing, working from home, businesses moving online, and people communicating with each other in new and creative ways. Nowhere has this pandemic been more disruptive than for the governments who look after their citizens’ needs for healthcare, schooling and, most notably, the many millions of new people who now find they are unemployed or underemployed.
One national government that Rocket works closely with made the decisive move to lockdown their country early and, in doing so, have set a gold standard for limiting infections and deaths. In order to facilitate the lockdown, they announced new financial benefits for those who lost their jobs or were furloughed as a result. Like many countries across the globe, they were met with huge socially distancing queues outside government offices, while online portals were crashing due to the unprecedented numbers of people needing access to benefits. This surge in registrations resulted in a tsunami of claims that needed to be processed, assessed and paid. According to official figures, in a little over a month, they calmly and efficiently processed the equivalent of 60% of the total number of all claims they had processed in the whole of the previous financial year. Impressive!
How They Coped
So how was this government services agency able to implement the new benefits so quickly and scale up their already huge systems capacity to cope with this tsunami of claims? There are two core reasons for this.
As boring as it may seem to some who covet the cool new stuff, the first reason was because they had a well-architected system running on a highly scalable core software. This system, from Rocket, ran on an equally highly scalable mainframe platform. Simple, right? The reality is that facilitating this type of outcome is far from simple as the list of failed projects remind us of every year. It requires making good technology decisions in the beginning, having well thought out architecture, great long-term partnerships that are geared toward the outcome, and it requires time investment to mature.
The second reason why this government organization was able to cope with the tsunami of claims was that there were well-established relationships between highly-skilled public servant engineers and their strategic vendor counterparts. The value of being truly invested on both sides of customer-vendor relationships isn’t often accounted for on the ledger when looking at the cost of disruption or the value of transformation. When it is in poor health, it can also often be invisible to those outside its immediate sphere until something goes wrong.
The Key to Transformation
The disruption of this pandemic has put a spotlight on what is essential and what is simply desirable. For example, your health and that of your loved ones becomes prioritized over going to a bar or a sunny vacation. Transformation in all senses is fundamental to who we are as humans and societies. The pandemic has certainly shone a light on areas where technology and businesses need to transform. But is the replacement of core technologies essential to achieving transformation? What the example of the government benefits above highlights is that the outcomes are what is truly essential. Transformation of any type only becomes essential when it delivers those outcomes with material benefits that positively impact the lives around us.
From a Rocket perspective, this really resonates with our core values and business strategy. We have stewardship of some important core technologies that help organizations and governments deliver legendary outcomes. Our modus operandi is to establish the kind of long-term customer-vendor relationships that may seem invisible at times, but comes into its own when disruption occurs. That’s not to say Rocket doesn’t embrace transformation – quite the contrary. It’s at the centre of our own future business strategy. We aspire to help our customers on their own transformation journey.
Perhaps this pandemic will change forever the way we think about disruption. As the plethora of home renovation TV shows I have been watching during the pandemic has taught me – you can do pretty much anything you want as long as you have good bones. Luckily, there are a lot of good bones out there for industries and governments to build on.