Defining digital

Never one to miss the opportunity to get involved in a debate on a topic I’m interested in, I thought I’d add my tuppence to the ‘what does digital mean?’ question which I’ve recently seen discussed…

Matt Jukes posted a piece mulling over the question on his blog.

Phil Rumens made feel nostalgic for our first CD player here.

And Gavin Beckett described how Bristol City Council are defining digital here.

I guess it’s easy to ask whether it really matters how we define digital. But as the focus of government and business at large shifts to seeing ‘digital’ as a core part of successful business models, it seems sensible to make sure we’re all clear about what we’re aiming to achieve. And when you see how digital is helping companies like John Lewis to grow their online and offline business, and Uber to transform urban travel, ignoring digital seems naïve at best.

For me ‘digital’ feels very similar to Gavin’s definition: it’s about technology, but it only works if it’s based on a fundamental rethink of how services are designed, putting the user need first and foremost. It isn’t just about popping a website at the front of the same old ways of providing services. And this applies equally to internal services (intranet etc) as it does to citizen facing services.

The implications for our architectures, systems, business processes, ways of working, information and relationships with citizens and other service users are huge. Interesting times indeed!