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Ask the Expert: Digital Transformation in the Not-for-Profit Sector

It is always our aim to showcase and share the remarkable expertise and industry knowledge of those around us. Today, we’d like to feature an expert on the world of digital transformation within the Not-For-Profit sector specifically.

In this context, we caught up with Mark Ebden, Interim Digital Transformation Director at Royal Osteoporosis Society – a UK-wide charity dedicated to improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis. Here, our chat as part of our Ask the Expert series.

ADLIB: What has been your career journey so far, leading you to where you are right now?

Mark: I started off in a systems & network support position and rapidly moved from supporting systems to designing them. I’ve worked both sides of the fence as a supplier designing and providing new systems, to supporting the client journey and acting on their behalf. Throughout my career, I’ve had the opportunity to work with some great companies and even greater teams across Serco, PA Consulting, General Motors Europe & HPE, holding roles such as Principal Consultant, Chief Architect, CTO, Director for an EMEA wide cloud architecture team, then Interim COO at Eduserv then lately an Interim Digital Transformation Director with Royal Osteoporosis Society.

ADLIB: In a nutshell, can you explain what Digital Transformation is, and why it’s crucial to business success?

Mark: The definition I most agree with is “Improving your odds of success for change programmes, helping you embed technology where it unlocks the most value. Enabling people to succeed in accelerating and sustaining change.”

Digital Transformation is much more than just one thing; it enables organisations to see and unleash the potential in their businesses by utilising technology in a completely different way. This leads to nature gains in efficiency but also spurns bigger questions about goals, people & processes.

ADLIB: What has been the key thing you’ve learned about working in the Not for Profit sector?

Mark: It’s difficult to just pick one, but primarily I think the not-for-profit sector really reminds us to focus on the outcome. You’d think that it would be a given for most other sectors, but in the corporate world, we can find ourselves getting lost in the detail of things whereas in NFP everything has an impact on the charitable aim & the beneficiaries.

ADLIB: For those looking to work within Digital Strategy and Transformation specifically, what would your 3 key pieces of advice be?

Mark:

  1. Don’t narrow your focus to just technology. Digital transformation is very much like an iceberg. The 30% we can see is the pure technology element. The 70% below the water line is how the technology will be employed, the outcomes it drives & ultimately the people who will be using it. Additionally don’t lose sight of the culture of the organisation you’re working with unless hearts and minds come with you the programme of works will fail.
  2. Research everything about your client, their market, their competitors and even their financials. Some of the information may not be aligned to your specialism but the more you can learn upfront, the better engaged with the client you will be. You’d be surprised how much you can learn by reading the annual report.
  3. If you don’t already, learn to think strategically. Don’t deal with the problem immediately in front of you, think about the next steps & how they form the core of the future and today’s problem will be solved along the way. Always plan for sustainability & extensibility, a client will not forgive easily for being driven into a solution cul-de-sac.

Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom!