What The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can teach us about digitalisation and technology

I’m pretty hopeless at writing regularly. It’s often when I feel inspired by something that I choose to write.

This one has been on my mind for some time now so I finally got around to writing it.

As an experienced ICT professional with a love for data, digitalisation, and systems, I’ve had the opportunity to work with many such systems – from small to large systems that support 1,000+ users spread out over the Pacific. I’ve worked with these types of systems from the perspective of a user, analyst, designer, developer, trainer, and manager.

None have impressed me as much as the digital systems of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which I’m a member.

Let me explain.

Conversion

In 2017, I was taught by missionaries, accepted the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, chose to convert, and was baptised into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

It changed my life.

As I grew in the gospel I received callings to serve in the church and in these callings I’ve been able to see and appreciate the amazing work that is put in to support the spreading of the gospel of Jesus Christ and to look after our members and their families. This is almost entirely done by men and women who accept callings to serve voluntarily.

A house of order

“Behold, mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion.” –

Doctrine and Covenants 132:8

Like any efficient organisation, and guided by gospel principles, all this work in the church is supported by a very well-designed and integrated digital technology platform that includes a web-based database platform and supporting desktop and mobile apps. 

Records are important.

To be honest, the church, in my opinion, has a greater appreciation for data than I’ve seen in so many (multi-million dollar) organisations across the Pacific. As it should, given its eternal mission.

Here are some of the digital tools that members can access:

I’m not going to talk specifics about any of them but speak generally about a number of things that the church excels at from an information systems perspective.

Identity management

Good systems do identity management well. There are processes to verify identity, with supporting documents of course, to ensure accuracy and authenticity. Regardless of where a member of the church resides, his/her records are usually available to local church leaders.

Security and role-based access

Identity persists across the entire digital platform and facilitates single sign-on (SSO) capability. Access to data and features is based on your calling in the church and you only see what you need to. As your responsibility increases, so does your access. This is pretty standard across good systems.

Accessibility

The church is a leader when it comes to making the gospel of Jesus Christ accessible to the World. It often translates content into over 90 different languages and this applies to its digital content too. In the Pacific, you can access content in most Pacific Island languages.

Training and usage

Surprisingly, the tools are so well designed and intuitive that they are easy to use. There are no formal training sessions and leaders learn the tools as they fulfill their callings. Every now and then there might be a workshop organised as a refresher. Often, when I’m building software I look up to the church systems for their simplicity.

Notifications

A combination of mobile app push notifications and email notifications are used sensibly across the different tools. These are configurable and can be relevant to a person’s calling in the church. It keeps everyone well informed.

Analytics and reporting

One of my favourite quotes goes:

When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates.”

President Thomas S. Monson

Analytics and reports should be a key feature of any information system and should be geared to supporting the organisation’s mission. The church tools have exceptional reporting capability that informs actions, tracks performance, and reports progress.

Being prepared

Through prophetic insight and preparation, the church was very well prepared to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Church leaders had already emphasized a home-centered and church-supported plan, recognised the importance of technology to support the mission of the church, and there was an almost seamless transition once physical restrictions were imposed.

There was clear and consistent guidance from leaders, delivered across multiple platforms, to members worldwide. We relied on the Gospel Library app (and other apps) and video conference meetings on Zoom or Messenger became normal.

Many organisations were ill-prepared for the pandemic and unable to adapt quickly to the new normal because they lacked the digital capability. This wasn’t so for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The lesson I take from all this is that organisations should consider their long-term future and invest now in digitalisation by putting the infrastructure, policies, and processes to support it in place. The need for good data and appropriate technology is not going to lessen going into the future.


Image credit: The feature image used on this blog is sourced from – https://lds365.com/2019/12/27/media-in-gospel-library-brings-the-scriptures-to-life/


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