Talking to Julie was inspiring — not just because Parkinson’s UK is a great example of an organisation working with CAST to bring about a huge change in the way it helps people with the condition, but also because of her work on The New Reality, her research project on how digital technology can have significant social impact through the non-profit sector. I’ve been getting interested in the Tech for Good movement for a while now, and this was a great opportunity to hear about it in action.
So, Julie, what do innovation, digital transformation and tech for good mean for you?
Let’s talk first about tech for good and digital transformation, because I use those interchangeably. What they mean for an organisation like Parkinson’s UK comes down to two things.
Internally, it means trying to find processes, tools and culture to help an organisation like Parkinson’s UK be as good as it possibly can be.
Externally, it’s about answering the more interesting question about how technology can help a specific group, in our case people affected by Parkinson’s.
I’m the director of digital transformation and communication which means being the person who tries to find new ways to do things better. I think that’s where you get the cross over with innovation. New ways of doing things are interesting, better ways of doing things are helpful, but the important bit is the crossover. That’s what the tech for good movement is about — asking whether there’s opportunities that we are missing: the technology world is evolving so fast that waiting to find out is no longer an option.
I’ve heard that from most of the people I’ve interviewed, that we can’t just sit back and see what happens next.
People who work in innovation roles and digital transformation roles do seem to have a very pronounced sense of urgency, maybe a bit over pronounced, but not by too much. We’ve spent time looking at what’s coming — and it’s exciting and terrifying in equal measure.
People generally think that it’s somewhere in the future that this cultural change starts to bite. But there have been a couple of transport-related things recently that made me recognise how much things have moved on even since I wrote The New Reality.