A lot of digital transformation is happening this year, less in response to new problems and more because old problems are now painfully visible to those in power. Covid is a teenager lighting our accumulated unuseful defaults on fire and leaving them on the mayor’s doorstep.
Take daycare thermometers in Japan.
2020 was the year most of us started to pay a lot of attention to body temperature. But for Japanese daycare kids, many times daily temperature checks are old hat, used by the daycare center to mitigate the spread of cold and flu. You would think then, that temperature checking and data management would have already been optimized to the millisecond, but you’d be wrong.
To send my daughter off to daycare I have to
- Take her temperature at home. Sometimes wait 10 minutes for her to finish her eggs, because eating breakfast raises body temperature, apparently.
- Handwrite it in her log.
- Again at daycare reception, log the at home temperature on a tablet
- Enter the classroom, take her temperature again.
- Report the daycare temperature verbally to the daycare teacher who hand writes it in the class log.
That’s two thermometers, two paper logs and one digital log.
I would sometimes lose 5 minutes in the morning on step 4 when the slow digital thermometer would fail to get a read, taking up space in the classroom, and slowing myself and other parents down.
When the daycare reopened in June after the 1st wave, they moved the thermometers to the reception area to reduce the parent time in building. Suddenly, all the slowness and errors formerly distributed across six classrooms was concentrated in one tiny hallway, annoying parents whose tensions were already high after two months of parenting at work. A line soon snaked the door.
More critically, this was all visible on display in front of the administration office. Within days, the pokey thermometers were replaced with instant infrared ones.