BER20: Operating under the 'new normal'


This case study was produced for inclusion in the Birmingham Economic Review for 2020.

The annual Birmingham Economic Review is produced by the University of Birmingham’s City-REDI and the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, with contributions from the West Midlands Growth Company. It is an in-depth exploration of the economy of England’s second city and a high-quality resource for informing research, policy and investment decisions.

This post is featured in Chapter 3 of the Birmingham Economic Review for 2020, on Labour Market Challenges Pre- and Post- Pandemic.

Click here to read the Review.

Organisations in every sector are now operating under a completely ‘new normal’ and, whilst SCC certainly is not immune to the devastating consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, as a technology solutions company we were designated critical and our customers relied heavily on us through this sudden period of transition.

Clearly, the most visible and widespread change was the immediate requirement to enable homeworking for entire workforces. From those organisations already offering flexible working to those with 100% of employees working from fixed office locations, the task wasn’t just to ensure people had the right devices and hardware but that IT infrastructures were able to cope with increased bandwidth, the rollout of new collaboration tools, and the associated additional security requirements. The shift to homeworking also represents a significant cultural shift: one that many organisations have been working towards or planned to adopt in the medium-long term. The difference in 2020, however, was that major IT transformation projects that would normally stretch months had to be delivered in days.

This urgency was intensified when you consider the size, scale, and significance of SCC’s customer base. For example, NHS Trusts across the UK required critical support to enable the continuation of healthcare services, whilst front line workers were overwhelmed with increased capacity directly related to the pandemic. SCC was proud to support all of its customers through the crisis but none more so than in the healthcare sector.

Amid the outbreak, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH) had an immediate and urgent requirement to provide critical training on how to correctly put on and remove Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) to protect staff from contracting and spreading the virus. CUH built a new training website as a resource for the whole of the NHS on the practical aspects of PPE, developed in collaboration with experts in infectious diseases at CUH. In order to launch the website as quickly as possible, CUH asked SCC for support in architecting and deploying the infrastructure required to host the website in Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Within 48 hours and at zero cost to CUH, SCC’s specialists from its Public Cloud Practice built and deployed the infrastructure, with teams in the UK and Vietnam volunteering their time outside of working hours to provide further development of the website to enable additional and enhanced features. These included a CI/CD pipeline to allow agile continuous development and improvement of the website, and governance around change process, as well as providing project management to ensure we meet the tight timelines of launch.

Matthew Butler, Consultant Geriatrician at CUH, praised the project, saying: “Our aim is to do our bit to keep NHS staff safe. I want to extend my warmest heartfelt thanks; I will be forever grateful for all the efforts of SCC.”

Elsewhere in healthcare, as we passed the peak of the pandemic and attention began to turn towards recovery, University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust (UHNM) partnered with SCC to become the first UK healthcare organisation to deploy innovative new thermographic technology to protect front-line NHS workers and patients from a second wave of COVID-19 cases.

UHNM, which runs Royal Stoke University Hospital and County Hospital in Stafford, installed the first of eight thermographic cameras at Royal Stoke University Hospital in May. The ceiling-mounted camera unit is part of SCC’s Thermographic Screening solutions, which is powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and uses devices ranging from handheld to fixed multi-camera systems to record body temperature and identify anyone displaying signs of fever, with real-time alerts to enable interception and help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other contagious diseases. Cameras have been installed at Royal Stoke’s radiology outpatient department and the entrance of its headquarters with an additional six units to be deployed strategically around the hospitals in key areas designed to prevent potential COVID-19 carriers from entering and spreading the virus.

These are just two of countless examples of SCC supporting its customers through the COVID-19 pandemic. But, of course, SCC also has thousands of its own employees to protect and did so through the immediate implementation of a robust pandemic plan, including homeworking, where possible, and following guidance from Government and relevant health authorities where employees needed to remain on-site in support of our customers.

The COVID-19 pandemic has reaffirmed to SCC the importance of people, the resilience of business amid the single largest challenge many organisations will ever face, and juts how important technology will be in the long-term recovery from COVID-19. The pandemic has been difficult for us all but also represents the opportunity to review business models and do things better, and safer, going forward. We have already identified how technology innovations such as AI can reduce human interaction and improve efficiency. We’ve seen organisations adopt homeworking and experience such productivity gains that they are now developing increased and permanent flexible working policies.

SCC will continue to support our customers in the public and private sectors adapt to the on-going effects of COVID-19 on their business, their cultures and their IT infrastructures.

Tim Kenny
Head of Marketing