Alison McLaughlin, Sopra Steria

Written by Alan Robertson on 5 October 2015 in Feature

For 100 days, Connect is running through our Tech 100 for 2015, profiling the key figures driving the digital agenda in Scotland

Alison McLaughlin (@AlisonMcLaugh​)
Job Title/Organisation: Sector Director: Local & Regional Government – Sopra Steria

What does your role involve?

I am a UK board member of Sopra Steria responsible for running our business in local government across the UK and our public sector business in Scotland and Northern Ireland. I am also the board member for Scotland.

What do you consider to be the most imminent challenge in your line of work?

There is a major drive in our market for digital ways of working – agile, user-driven approaches that deliver early and grow iteratively. There are many benefits to this way of working and work particularly well for smaller projects. Scaling this approach to enterprise scale projects is the challenge. Cost management is particularly difficult as well as ensuring that the end product is robust, easy to maintain and secure.

What has been the most rewarding piece of work you've undertaken?

Working with Student Loans as their Digital Delivery Partner to implement a user-driven application interface. A real example of how smart use of technology can improve services – in this case evidenced by significant increase in customer satisfaction and save money.

How can Scotland bridge the digital skills gap?

By making the broad range of careers in the industry more visible. Everyone uses the tech but perhaps don’t appreciate the design, imagination, engineering, human interaction and fun that is behind enabling that technology. I’m also a board member of ScotlandIS. There are a number of initiatives that the industry supports, including the introduction of CodeClan, which aims to fast track people into a Digital career.

Which new technology excites you the most?

What excites me most is the imaginative ideas people have for using new technology – rather than the technology itself. For example, using technology people can: share their leftover food with those in need, create/join online communities reducing isolation, and even diagnose visual impairments such as cataracts and glaucoma with a mobile phone.  

What's your favourite app and why?

Proloquo2Go as it enables my non-verbal son to communicate. And my audible book app that I enjoy while travelling.

What, for you, will 2016 be the year of from a technology/digital standpoint?

Data driven action. Harnessing the vast amount of information available from multiple sources to make decisions or determine actions to take.

That could be social services taking a decision to pay the rent for someone because the evidence shows that this action could stem the flow of more serious consequences – personally for the individual and much more expensive to resolve.

Or a finance company reminding you to authorise your card for overseas transactions because you’ve bought travel insurance.

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