Conversation Starters for Digital Transformation

by | Oct 11, 2019 | Change, ICT4D, Questions |

Going more and more digital is a hot topic in the humanitarian community (well in many communities). Different organisations are at different stages in their understanding, their desire, and their journey. Even within organisations there is large spectrum of difference. The bell curve of early adopters to laggards is alive and well.

So how do we have conversations about digital transformation? What do we discuss, especially when the experience and opinions are diverse?

First off, if you have diversity of opinion in the room, celebrate it. Encourage it. Nurture it. It is essential and we need now more than ever.

Secondly, there are lots of good articles available from ICTworks to HBR that can help provoke thought beforehand.

Lastly, below are 5 conversation starters to consider exploring in groups:

  1. Explore the benefits and trade offs between digitalisation agenda and adhering to the humanitarian principles 
  2. Explore different options for data sharing and interoperability i.e. every agency does not need to have the same data nor does it need to be centralised in one agency 
  3. Explore how we do not increase inequality when we ‘go digital’ especially among most vulnerable – the elderly, child headed households, those with mental health disabilities, etc. – and those living in offline environments.
  4. Explore the challenges with working across different legal frameworks that different types of organisations need to abide by, for example, NGOs need to abide by GDPR, while UN agencies does not 
  5. Explore how to collective address the data protection challenges of re-identification from anonymised data sets – the law only protects personally identifiable information (PII), while we can identify people without PII now and law is silent about this 

Digital transformation and change is, weirdly, like most forms of change. It’s about conversations, it’s about listening, it’s about speaking out fears, identifying harms and opportunities.

And change is about us. We don’t need to boil the ocean, culture is changed drip by drip by drip.

Photo by Official


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