What we mean by “digital”

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Written by Myra Hunt, Chief Digital Officer at DEFRA

We took over as Defra’s joint Chief Digital Officers back in July. Since then, we’ve spent a lot of time meeting a lot of different people at all levels around the organisation, asking questions and listening.

One thing that’s emerged is that not everyone shares the same understanding of the word “digital”. Many people are very unsure of what we mean when we use it.

Since we’re the ones in charge of “digital” here, we thought we should do something about that – so in this post, we’re going to explain what digital means to us and to Defra.

Digital means changing the way we work

This heading is the simplest, most fundamental definition. Former GDS deputy director Tom Loosemore defined digital like this in a tweet:

Digital: Applying the culture, practices, processes & technologies of the Internet-era to respond to people’s raised expectations.

… and we haven’t seen anyone else define it as simply, or as clearly, since then.

Read his tweet again. He lists 4 things: culture, practices, processes and technologies.

The first 3 of those are about how we do things. About the ways that people work.

Digital transformation means changing those working methods. It means: being more agile; putting users first; starting small and iterating from there, based on user research.

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