Alexa, how is digital transformation improving lives?

Ashley Bale

When most of us think of digitalisation we think of technology that has made our lives slightly easier – never having to carry maps, cash or even shopping ‘baskets’. But for some, digital transformation goes way beyond day-to-day convenience, as the advancement in technology has had significant impact on vulnerable communities.

One student on our MSc in Leading Digital Transformation is using the qualification to formalise the strides he has already made in his career in the health and social care sector. Ashley Bale works for Innovate Trust, a charity that provides care to individuals across RCT, Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan, and has always been dedicated to making a meaningful difference.

“I started with Innovate Trust as a support worker in 2009,” says Ashley, “It gave me an understanding of how technology can make an impactful change in people’s lives.

“I recognised the transformational power of technology to help address the challenges of people’s daily lives. The advancement of technology today can give people more opportunities to become more independent”.

Ashley worked on the Intelligent Personal Assistant (IPA) project, which uses voice assistants, sensors and mainstream technology to enhance, promote and increase independence for individuals with disabilities—enabling individuals to control elements of the home through Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices.

He says: “With grant funding we were able to support academic research and support people with disabilities to be at the forefront of emergent technologies. We supported people with installing Smart Speakers and worked directly with individuals to learn the outcomes that could be achieved and whether the technology was beneficial in daily life. That then lead on to us building our first supported living smart home in the UK, using mainstream technologies – the model has since evolved to the development of several properties across the UK”

Ashley has also developed an award-winning free community app for adults with disabilities across the UK through for Innovate Trust. ‘Insight’ provides over 80 live and in-person activities per week and is a social space for people to share, make friends and be digitally included in an accessible and friendly environment.

Ashley has witnessed the enormous potential of digital transformation and how it can continue to positively impact organisations and people’s lives. He says: “As a society we’ve got to embrace technology. There’s no hidden fact that technology is going to transform people’s lives, it’s just at what point it comes into play, how ethical it is, and what type of technology solution is used. We’re only seeing a spec of what is out there now, there’s so much more to come.”

“We’ve got to start thinking in a new way. The best method is to consider how everything your thought would be possible in the future is already possible now. Whatever your idea is, it’s achievable, especially with harnessing the evolving AI tools available, and we haven’t got a choice but to evolve with or be left behind”.

The MSc in Leading Digital Transformation has not only allowed Ashley to collaborate and share his projects, but it has also helped improve his confidence in his own abilities. He says: “I didn’t have academic credentials before undertaking the MSc. When I saw this course, I thought this is my chance to formally validate my knowledge to match my experience”.

“By being part of the MSc I have also joined a community of practice for digital literacy and accessibility to digital technology. This brings people together who wouldn’t have met before, it has increased the opportunity to engage with people in the NHS and/or in health that I probably wouldn’t have met.”

Our MSc in Leading Digital Transformation aims to support leaders to challenge traditional practice, to be more curious about processes, and to ‘think digital first’.

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