UEA part of new project supporting digital transformation across large organisations

Published by  Communications

On 3rd Feb 2021

The inside of a computer

The School of Computing Sciences at UEA is partnering in a new research centre helping large organisations adapt to the pace of digital transformation.

Digital Innovation for Growth, Impact, and Transformation (DIGIT) is led by the University of Exeter Business School, with the DIGIT Lab named as the latest of six national Next Stage Digital Economy Centres by the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC). The lab has a budget of almost £12m over five years, including more than £5m from industry partners and a £3.6m investment from EPSRC.

The DIGIT Virtual Lab will work across the academic partners of Exeter, Oxford Brookes and UEA, together with large established organisations to reimagine them for the digital age – in ways that go beyond merely digitising current products and practices to address core transformation challenges.

Prof Gerard Parr, lead Co-PI on the DIGIT project and Head of the School of Computing Sciences at UEA, said: “I am delighted to partner with colleagues in Exeter and Oxford Brookes on this strategically important project. I will be supported at UEA by collaborators in the Smart Emerging Technologies Research group Dr Ben Milner, Dr Edwin Ren, Dr Hane Aung and will leverage key research strengths we have in 5G, Internet of Things, Embedded Systems and smart devices.

“Over the past year, the role and importance of digital technologies has become clear to companies and government agencies as they strive to support staff working from home, core business processes, supply chains and services. Technologies such as Cloud Computing, broadband, 5G, and secure web-applications for collaborative working have all come to the forefront.”

Adopting digital technology to increase productivity is seen as crucial to the UK’s future success but according to Professor Alan Brown, Professor of Digital Economy at INDEX, large established organisations, which make up 60% of the UK economy, are still struggling to adapt.

“Large organisations face significant challenges in a time of massive change,” said Professor Brown.

“Use of digital technology can improve their performance. However, their size and heritage can inhibit substantial changes to how they work. It requires change beyond technology – to embrace the people, the skills, the organisation, the business model, the way of thinking and the culture to work in a completely different way for a digital world. They must move quickly to create digital products and deliver them digitally to an audience that demands digital interaction.”

The research project will hinge around a question considered vital to the future of the UK digital economy: can large established organisations use digital transformation to increase productivity and value, while not compromising on employee wellbeing or their social responsibilities?

Engaging industry partners in a research programme focused on creating disruptive scenarios, the DIGIT Lab will develop novel research insights and create knowledge frameworks and tools, while translating their findings into concrete steps designed to have a real-world impact for industry and the economy.

Prof Mark Searcey, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Science at UEA, said: “It is great to see this collaboration between UEA, Exeter and Oxford Brookes in an area of such importance to our economy and our ways of working. It will hopefully pave the way for digital innovations that will help not only to improve efficiency and productivity, but also support the health and wellbeing of employees in large organisations.”

Details of the other Next Stage Digital Economy Centres were previously announced by the government.


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