Modernising the library

Singapore’s NLB – the 2016 CIO Asia Awards Innovation winner – shares its digital transformation initiatives to enable customer self-service and improve productivity.

By Nurdianah Md Nur
May 20, 2016

With AutoSorter in the back-end room, all the returned items (whether popular or not) can be auto-sorted into different bins based on specific categories. The popular items will be automatically identified using the information from a Data Analytics engine (based on past loan records). So far, the AutoSorter automatically sorts 94 percent of the returned items; meaning that minimal manual intervention for sorting is required. With this success, NLB plans to gradually deploy AutoSorters in all its public libraries.

All in all, NLB's collective efforts have enabled it to adapt to users' digital lifestyle and enhance the customer experience without the need to increase manpower. In the 2015 Customer Satisfaction Survey in which 4.0 is a benchmark for Excellence, NLB achieved a score of 4.46, up from 4.39 in 2014. This bodes well with NLB's efforts to continue to deliver innovative services to improve customer satisfaction, said Lee.

Moving forward, NLB plans to embark on initiatives that'll help it "build a deeper and more personalised relationship with its users by pushing the right content to the right person at the right time", said Lee. It also plans to explore the use of robotic systems to improve productivity within the organisation. "As with the earlier transformations, we will take a progressive approach, piloting new services quickly, and then learning, adopting and adapting them to better serve our customers," he added.

Tips on digital transformation
Reflecting on NLB's Transformation 2.0 journey, Lee outlined the lessons he learnt about digital transformation from the project.  

"Firstly, we need to have a clear goal or outcome in mind before we embark on the transformation effort, so as to overcome any challenges along the way. The purpose for a digital transformation - whether it is to improve work processes, introduce new services and/or to meet the changing lifestyle and habits of customers - needs to be clearly defined and communicated to all staff. The digital transformation journey requires strategic planning to identify the gaps between rapidly advancing technologies, the organisation and people. Building up competencies in the organisation to embrace technologies, and putting change management processes in place to manage the transformation are essential to doing this well. "

"Secondly, transformation is a change that requires the collaboration of multiple divisions within the organisation. Besides technology, the human element also needs to be managed properly. The project has to be driven by a sponsor who believes in the transformation, who can then garner the support of the various divisions to bring the project to fruition."

"Thirdly, innovation need not involve new technology. In the case of NLB Mobile, we leveraged well-established technologies and standard smartphone features, resulting in a solution that is cost-effective, sustainable and can be easily adapted by other libraries in the world. What's crucial is having a well architected design and supporting infrastructure that focus on service delivery," he said.

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