It is nearly three years since I went to a football game, but a couple of weekends ago I made it back. Some would argue that Oakwell is perhaps not the epitome of the great game, its not quite grass roots football but it certainly shows a little bit of how the other half live (or perhaps don’t more accurately) having been an arm chair fan over this hiatus the intense difference was clear!

Everything changes but change is not equal to progress was a thought that struck me when discussing the changes that have had an impact on the great game. I remember going to see my team play at a young age, standing up, scratching the buttons on my coat as I tried to sit on the wall, feeling the atmosphere as a youngster enabled you to realise what the game meant. In the case of the game in 2014 maybe it was more a reflection of the current time, a selection of pretty rubbish recent results or the change in attitudes to football but the atmosphere was almost none existent for the first 50 minutes. And whilst seated stadium are said to be safer and more conducive to a family atmosphere I still long for the ability to sit on the wall and jostle around with my Dad as the team scored or let one in, change, not progress in everyone’s eyes.

Most change actions we undertake are based on a desire to improve a situation, in the delivery of technology we always set out with a benefit at the centre. But, as the quote goes, not all change is progress. How do we ensure that we maintain the ‘atmosphere of the football game’ after the implementation of the new system? In the delivery of our most recent systems within the NIHR CRN we have tried hard to ensure user engagement in the creation of specification is of a high quality. As we enter the early stages of UAT this seems to be paying off as users of the systems are out ‘in the business’ commenting on how they think the system is going to improve the way they work.

The trick though is getting the balance. I am fond of pointing out that technology is neither free nor timeless. The timeless element is particularly crucial to understand against the theme of this blog. Gaining customer input into a new systems does take time, it does make sure that the change is with a benefit at its heart but there has to be a point when a line is drawn and the feedback up to a point in time is what is going to be delivered in iteration number one. If you don’t do this then there is a real chance that delivery will never happen and therefore progress will never be made, ensuring the theme of the quote does come true.

I love my music collection, I have resisted the move away from physical copies of my music until the last month or so, I am moving house and it seems like a good time to change, to move to simply the hard drive and iCloud versions of years and years of music inspired memories. And wow has it been hard, do I really need the separate copies of Love is Hell part one and two by Ryan Adams as well as the version with both parts on it? However I am going through the painful process, and I would imagine the local charity shop is pleased with the influx of CDs.

So this change comes with a clear benefit, and yet it feels difficult to action, maybe that is the key, that change that is difficult does show progress being made?

The delivery of technology-derived progress through implementation of new systems has two distinctly different difficulties. The building of the system itself is something we all, as IT professionals, can make easier, we can create delivery systems and strategies that should ensure that progress can be made and change the way we do this in the name of agility and benefit driven development.

However I believe that the more difficult change comes from the implementation of the system, the delivery to the business is not the end of implementing a change. As we creep ever closer to the final system in our integrated environment being delivered we know that the next 12 months will be more about the change the business will be able to make through a model that is supported by new technology. So, back to the quote, change that does deliver progress.

With technology progress also comes an underbelly that is less savoury. The risk that cyber crime brings to so many businesses is formidable. The risk to the delivery of health care and clinical research is both costly in an environment where the expense can be a factor on whether the benefit can be delivered as well as impactful on adoption. The progress being made against the cyber threat is realistic. An acceptance that the criminal at some point will take a step ahead of the security and there will be a breach. The task is to ensure that when this happens the breach is minimised and that we can bounce back to the core function of our organisation as quickly as possible. Governments the world over take the threat seriously but, the concentration seems to be more towards intelligence of the threat and the capability to have a protected bounce back. The UK government recently revealed that over 1400 undercover cyber police were now on active duty, trying to gather the intelligence to facilitate the bounce back rather than to stop all cyber crime. To me this is an acceptance that change has happened and that the progress in this case is not always for the good.

Much is being made of the ignorance of economic boarders that technology will allow the world to conceive, will a progress of technology be to remove the need for the country. You can now become an e-resident of Estonia and Paris will soon follow. Being able to benefit from digital service as if you were a resident of the country or city from your very own armchair. Estonia and all its digital service and capability are now open to the world, you can’t become a citizen of the country but by being an e-resident you can make use of the progress they have been able to make. In a similar vein the digital diversity gap is decreasing exponentially. More Internet connected devices than people in the world slowly open up the concept of a digital world for a wider proportion of people than ever before, removing the perception of exclusion, which has existed for some time. Again then change that is progress, but progress that needs careful consideration, as it becomes a tangible reality.

So is the initiation of change through technology about stretching the imagination into the future and then trying to do something with that therefore ensuring a positive progression can be made? We are now considering innovations in mobile technology, wearable devices, the digital home and the use of the social media world to support improvements in health care and the delivery of clinical research. As we consider these advancements in much more detail I will keep coming back to the wonderful Oakwell experience and the phrase that not all change is progress as well as utilising my feelings of moving to digital music as a way of being sure to take into account how change will make people feel.