Andy Callow was appointed Group CDIO at the University Hospitals of Northamptonshire in December 2020, and has spent the last three years unifying the Kettering and Northampton hospitals through one digital strategy, taking strides to adopt cloud, build an RPA Centre of Excellence, and roll-out AI proof-of-concepts.

Then the call came that CEO Simon Weldon was going on sick leave, and looking in-house for his replacement.

“It wasn’t part of my trajectory but I agreed to do it out of loyalty to him,” says Callow. And although it was a departure for him to helm an unfamiliar leadership role, unique opportunities presented themselves like fresh intellectual stimulation, addressing white privilege, and plans to stabilise the hospitals through winter.

Gaining a new perspective

Having started the interim CEO role in September, and appointed an interim successor for his CDIO role, Callow admits he’s still coming to grips with the new structure. In the first few weeks, he spent time preparing the organisation for a challenging winter, opening internal conferences, addressing Black History Month, and hearing from staff around the wards. Knowing that his role is temporary, his focus is on not letting anything slip through the cracks, as he adjusts working at a system level with less hands-on, day-to-day involvement, and more emphasis on being a facilitator for outcomes.

It’s still early days and Callow is unsure if he’d pursue a CEO role in future, but he’s enthused about a new perspective.

“The technical challenge of my substantive role as CDIO provides a lot of intellectual stimulation, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find similar stimulation in the new challenges I find on my plate now,” he says. “What I didn’t appreciate is that I’d also get that buzz from some really tricky problems you’re trying to deal with, which are wider organisational issues. I’ve been involved in conversations about the money for a while, but now I’ve got accountability for that to happen, rather than being part of the solution.”

This leap into the unknown can be unsettling, even for the most experienced leaders. Callow casts his mind back to earlier in his career when a series of promotions pushed him further into leadership roles and away from his love of coding. A “grieving process” ensued, as he moved away from a skillset he had built his reputation on, but he believes it won’t happen this time around.

“I’ve not felt that I’m losing all the techie stuff,” says Callow, formerly the head of technology delivery at NHS UK and programme director at NHS Digital. “I’ve thought that this is actually helping people do their best work in a different guise.”

A CIO’s leadership principles

Callow attributes his transparent and reflective leadership style to workplace experience and his own development, and cites Daniel Pink’s Drive as an influencing factor in letting teams become autonomous and take ownership, continuously improve, and buy into the mission of the NHS.

Callow also believes in the value to reflect on past achievements in order to tackle future obstacles and land key messages in meetings. The weekly notes he writes have also become a routine that helps crystallize successes and challenges, but also prompts new conversations with colleagues and third parties, helping to make sense of the more troubling weeks.

“I look back [at my notes] and say, ‘There was that situation’ or, ‘That conversation was fantastic’. Or, actually, ‘There’s a situation I need to put more effort into progressing’, or, ‘There’s a person I need to give more time to.’ If no one else read them, I’d still do them because it’s a discipline to look back on and think about what you’re doing.”

Callow keeps what he calls shadow notes of circumstances he’d rather not make public, and attributes this activity to the importance of being open, a key NHS principle that’s pinned to his wall at his office in Kettering, in North Northamptonshire. He takes a similar approach to Twitter, saying the social media platform doesn’t have to be about mudslinging, but an opportunity to forge connections. He recalls a time he Tweeted about the possibility of machine learning being used to improve bed management, an idea that would eventually spark online conversations, NHSX funding, and a proof-of-concept on bed scheduling with AI start-up faculty.

“That has now gone into a product that’s available, and that code is open-sourced on GitHub,” he says.

A CIO’s guide to addressing white privilege

Ranked in the top five of this year’s CIO UK 100, Callow drew high praise from the judges for a proactive approach to tackling diversity, equity and inclusion.

Last autumn, he bought 10 copies of White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo and invited the 300 staff across the digital directorate of both hospitals to borrow them. He also bought each member of the board a copy of the book. Later that year, Callow hosted discussions about tackling diversity and discrimination with the directorate and trust board, leading to a joint board development session on how to address racism.

The University Hospitals of Northamptonshire would go on to launch a new leadership programme for Black and Asian staff in the spring, while Callow has since recruited up to 25 board members to volunteer their time for career coaching sessions to these same professionals. Callow himself offers two hours a month.

“A lot of colleagues don’t have access to somebody who can have those kind of conversations, particularly if you’ve come from overseas and you haven’t built up a network,” says Callow, who is executive sponsor of both Trust REACH (Race, Equality and Cultural Heritage) staff networks. But he admits that addressing such issues can only begin with leaders getting uncomfortable, and tackling subjects that may be beyond their expertise.

“Reading White Fragility was a pivotal moment,” he says. “It made me feel more equipped to have some of these conversations.”

2023 is about stability and the next job

Callow says he is most proud of his automated coding project of endoscopy patient episodes, whereby the Trust has used AI to automatically code 87% of monthly endoscopy activity, with an average accuracy of primary diagnosis and procure assignment of 94%—approximately the same as a human coder.

He acknowledges there are challenges ahead for his successor Dan Howard to the CDIO post, from integrating digital strategies to rolling out electronic patient records, but as interim CEO, Callow is looking at the bigger picture of improving clinical collaboration, managing rising costs, and supporting staff through a difficult winter.

“We need to strip out some of those things that are no longer needed [from Covid],” he says. “And that’s hard when you’ve still got your emergency department full, ambulances queuing, and wards where people wait a long time to be discharged.”

Callow believes that CIOs are equally equipped to take the CEO role as other board members, and admits he would be more interested in a deputy CEO position than six months ago. Yet a return to familiar territory beckons.

From mid-January, Callow will become CDIO at the University Hospitals of Nottingham, a move influenced in part by a new challenge as well as a shorter commute. “There’s a lot I can contribute to their digital progression and I like the established links with the university that I can be part of,” he said. “The focus for the new year will be on getting up to speed with the NUH CDIO role and strong delivery.”

Diversity and Inclusion, IT Leadership, IT Management

Modernization journeys are complex and typically highly custom, dependent on an enterprise’s core business challenges and overall competitive goals. Yet one way to simplify transformation and accelerate the process is using an industry-specific approach. Any vertical modernization approach should balance in-depth, vertical sector expertise with a solutions-based methodology that caters to specific business needs.

As part of their partnership, IBM and Amazon Web Services (AWS) are pursuing a variety of industry-specific blueprints and solutions designed to help customers modernize apps for a hybrid IT environment, which includes AWS Cloud.

The solutions, some in pilot stage and others in early development, transcend a variety of core industries, including manufacturing, financial services, healthcare, and transportation.

These industry solutions bring to bear both IBM and AWS’ deep-seated expertise in the specific security, interoperability, and data governance requirements impacting vertical sectors. Such an approach ensures that app modernization efforts meet any relevant certification requirements and solve business-specific problems.

“A general modernization path brings the technical assets together whereas an industry-focused initiative is more of a problem-solving, solutions-oriented design,” says Praveena Varadarajan, modernization offering leader and strategist for IBM’s Hybrid Cloud Migration Group.

With the right industry solution and implementation partner in place, organizations can steer towards effective modernization. Along with the proper technologies and tools, the right consulting partners can help accelerate transformation, specifically if they can together demonstrate deep and diverse expertise, modernization patterns, and industry-specific blueprints.

Consider the critical area of security controls, for example. Companies across industries have core requirements related to data security and governance controls, yet different industries have uniquely focused considerations.

In healthcare, securing personal health data is key, governed by national standards laid out by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).The financial services industry must adhere to a different set of security requirements, from protecting Personal Identifiable Information (PII) to safeguards that meet Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance, meant to protect credit card holder’s information.

“Industry verticals have different compliance and regulatory issues that have to be taken into consideration when doing any type of refactoring or app modernization,” notes Hilton Howard, global migration and modernization lead at AWS. “Healthcare and life sciences companies have different governance and compliance concerns along with issues on how data is managed compared to technology companies or those in energy and financial services.”

AWS/IBM’s Industry Edge

IBM and AWS have put several mechanisms and programs in place to codify their rich vertical industry expertise and make it easily accessible to customers in critical sectors. IBM and AWS experts collaborate to identify potential joint offerings and solution blueprints designed to provide a modernization roadmap that is a level up from a general technical guide. Much of the guidance and deliverables is codified from joint initiatives conducted with large customers to provide an accelerated problem-solving path to a wider audience. The deliverables could be reference architectures or an industry-specific proof of concept—the goal is to offer institutional knowledge and near-turn-key solutions meant to streamline modernization and accelerate time-to-value.

“Sometimes it’s best practices or a solution design or some combination,” Varadarajan says. “It’s about bringing internal or external tools to bear to solve specific business issues.”

In addition, AWS and IBM are working on complex transformation aimed at large-scale transformation and modernization efforts. This will help enterprise customers adopt new digital operating models structurally and prescriptively, and transform with AWS to deliver strategic business outcomes. The program builds a meaningful partnership between AWS, IBM, and the client, and delivers an integrated program underpinned by a tailored playbook that delivers the clients’ prioritized initiatives enabled by AWS, while developing sustainable organizational capabilities for continuous transformation.

“Applying an industry lens keeps solutions grounded to the guiding principles of the business,” Varadarajan says. “The goal of transformation is not just to become more modern, but to change the way companies adapt to the new norms of running a business in the digital world.”

United’s Revenue Management Modernization Takes Flight

United Airlines took to the cloud to modernize its Revenue Management system to reduce costs, but also to land on a platform that didn’t limit its ability to apply modern revenue management processes. The airline also sought to provide analysts with finer data access controls so they could be more analytical and creative when driving revenue management decisions.

Working with AWS and IBM, United created and scaled a data warehouse using Amazon Redshift, an off-the-shelf service that manages terabytes of data with ease. Critical success factors included embracing DevOps practices, emphasis on disaster recovery, and system stability, and continuous review of design and migration decisions. Next stop: Migrating a complex forecasting module planned for later in 2022.

To learn more visit https://www.ibm.com/consulting/aws

Application Management

The idea of having “The right tool for the job” applies across domains. Two thousand years ago Greek mathematician Archimedes is reported to have said “Give me a place to stand, and the right lever, and I could lift the earth.”


Fast forward to today’s cloud-centric environment, and application developers are nodding in enthusiastic agreement with Archimedes; and while things may be considered abundantly more complicated than in 250 BC., Google Cloud partner Aiven has made it their job to streamline some of the complications that can inhibit cloud-centric application development.

“Our mission here at Aiven is quite simple,” says Troy Sellers, presales Solution Architect at Aiven. “It’s to make the developer’s life easier. And when you’re a company that is looking at driving innovations or transformations into the cloud, for example, they need the right tools to support that activity.”

Aiven provides open source solutions that stand up a cloud based data infrastructure, freeing developers to focus on high value projects, and in the process, accelerate cloud migration and modernization.

“Having the right tool is just as important as having the ideas, because it allows the people with the ideas to get on and focus on the things that are important,” says Sellers in Google Cloud’s podcast series “The Principles of a Cloud Data Strategy.”

Dealing with complexity

As digital transformation evolves into broader modernization efforts, organizations face a common milestone — they need to expand their cloud-based services, but they lack the staff and skills to do so at scale.

It’s not just a resource question, though. Sellers says, “The challenges today, they’re worlds apart from the days gone by where I used to be building applications myself. I remember, we used to go and talk to customers, when big data was like a gigabyte.”

Today’s modern data and application development stacks contain many moving parts, and different tiers of logic — not to mention the sheer volume of data in play, the need to be aware of regulatory compliance and security issues, and the pressure to keep up with today’s expectations of Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CICD) for applications.

“There’s this expectation on developers that releases go from, rather than once every three months, to once every month, to every lunchtime at 11 o’clock,” Sellers says. “Time to market is just getting faster and faster and faster. And you definitely are in a race with your competitors to do that.”

“This is probably one of the main reasons that developers turn to companies like Google Cloud and Aiven for fully managed services, because it just takes a lot of that headache out of managing that. And they can get to market really, really fast.”

The Open Source Advantage

Aiven has leaned into Open Source for cloud data infrastructure since its inception in 2016. The advantages: cost savings, agility, no vendor lock-in, productivity, and efficiency.

“We manage database services for our customers, database services in the cloud, open source technologies such as Postgres, MySQL, Apache, Kafka,” says Sellers.  “We help customers adopt those services so they can focus on what they do best, which is building technology for their customers.”

Check “The Principles of a Cloud Data Strategy”  podcast series from Google Cloud on Google podcasts, Apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Google Cloud Platform

One type of infrastructure that has gained popularity is hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI). Interest in HCI and other hybrid technologies such as Azure Arc is growing as enterprise organizations embrace hybrid and multi-cloud environments as part of their digital transformation initiatives. Survey data from IDC shows broad HCI adoption among enterprises of all sizes, with more than 80% of the organizations surveyed planning to move toward HCI for their core infrastructure going forward.

“Hyperconverged infrastructure has matured considerably in the past decade, giving enterprises a chance to simplify the way they deploy, manage, and maintain IT infrastructure,” Carol Sliwa, Research Director with IDC’s Infrastructure Platforms and Technologies Group, said on a recent webinar sponsored by Microsoft and Intel.

“Enterprises need to simplify deployment and management to stay agile to gain greater business benefit from the data they’re collecting,” Sliwa said. “They also need infrastructure that can deploy flexibly and unify management across hybrid cloud environments. Software-defined HCI is well suited to meet their hybrid cloud needs.”

IDC research shows that most enterprises currently use HCI in core data centers and co-location sites, often for mission-critical workloads. Sliwa also expects usage to grow in edge locations as enterprises modernize their IT infrastructure to simplify deployment, management, and maintenance of new IoT, analytics, and business applications.

Sliwa was joined on the webinar by speakers from Microsoft and Intel, who discussed the benefits of HCI for managing and optimizing both hybrid/multi-cloud and edge computing environments.

Jeff Woolsey, Principal Program Manager for Azure Edge & Platform at Microsoft, explained how Microsoft’s Azure Stack HCI and Azure Arc enable consistent cloud management across cloud and on-premises environments.

“Azure Stack HCI provides central monitoring and comprehensive configuration management, built into the box, so that your cloud and on-premises HCI infrastructure are the same,” Woolsey said. “That ultimately means lower OPEX because instead of training and retraining on bespoke solutions, you’re using and managing the same solution across cloud and on-prem.”

Azure Arc provides a bridge for the Azure ecosystem of services and applications to run on a variety of hardware and IoT devices across Azure, multi-cloud, data centers, and edge environments, Woolsey said. The service provides a consistent and flexible development, operations, and security model for both new and existing applications, allowing customers “to innovate anywhere,” he added.

Christine McMonigal, Director of Hyperconverged Marketing at Intel, explained how the Intel-Microsoft partnership has resulted in consistent, secure, end-to-end infrastructure that delivers a number of price/performance benefits to customers.

“We see how customers are demanding a more scalable and flexible compute infrastructure to support their increasing and changing workload demands,” said McMonigal. “Our Intel Select Solutions for Microsoft Azure Stack HCI have optimized configurations for the edge and for the data center. These reduce your time to evaluate, select, and purchase, streamlining the time to deploy new infrastructure.”

Watch the full webinar here: 

For more information on how HCI use is growing for mission-critical workloads, read the IDC Spotlight paper.

Edge Computing, Hybrid Cloud

Since its beginnings as a German engineering company founded in the wake of the Second World War, Sick AG has evolved into an enterprise that lives by the motto of “sensor intelligence,” specializing in factory, logistics, and process automation.

But in recent years, the global manufacturer of sensors and sensor solutions has had to adjust its supply chain system to match its goals of blurring the lines between the physical and digital worlds.

The lack of integration between communication systems – not all of them digital – was slowing decision-making and incurring unnecessary costs.

“If a big company ordered some material, you’d have every person looking underneath his or her table to see if that material was there,” recalled Roland Avar, Sick AG’s Head of Product Management I Localization (RTLS).

What Sick AG needed was a real-time, global locating system – an integrated solution that would close the information gap.

“You waste a lot of time searching for material or an asset. Localization data enables agile planning of production and logistical processes for better delivery quality and reliability.” Avar pointed out. “With a digitized system, we would know where everything was at any time.”

Not a lottery game

Sick AG’s product portfolio includes RFID (radio frequency identification) readers, light grids, vision sensors, opto-electronic protective devices, bar code scanners, and analyzers for gas and liquid, along with gas flow measuring tools.

With more than 10,000 employees worldwide, the company serves as a guidepost for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0, a time of rapid change to industries, technology, and societal patterns due to smart automation.

As technology expands, so have the company’s processes in logistics and production. But as Avar noted, “Complexity definitely increases when you have multiple systems talking to each other. That’s why we needed to have the systems connected. Without that interconnectivity, it’s like playing the lottery, where you’re guessing numbers and hope that you are right.”

No one involved in the implementation of the new solution expected the process to be easy. “Let me say it like this,” Avar remembered. “We had some really challenging discussions.”

The name says it all

Even the dialogue about the platform’s name was spirited. In the end, developers settled on smaRTLog – for smart, real-time logistics.

The effort was a collaboration between Sick AG and multi-national, enterprise resource software (ERP) leader SAP.

smaRTLog connects real-time location-based information coming from Tag-LOC System, together with SAP business transactions. In other words, Tag-LOC System consists of the hardware, antennas, and tags for indoor tracking, and a technology independent intelligent hub Asset Analytics which interacts with SAP technologies for further analytics of all inventory and logistics – capturing, processing, and storing the information that would provide complete transparency and blot out the gray areas.

When items were delayed, all affected workers would receive alerts, along with updates on arrival times. Built-in mechanisms would spot defective material and eliminate it from the production process. Incidents previously characterized as “unexpected” were now telegraphed in advance, increasing predictability, along with the quality of warehouse management.

Growing within the system

In less than a year after its July 2021 deployment, the SmaRTLog solution had transformed manufacturing, automation, and logistics for Sick AG and its clients.

The average search time for missing materials decreased from 45 to 15 minutes, while the period between a requisition and delivery was reduced by 20%.

Companies that have adopted the platform report a more engaged workforce. “People aren’t worrying about, ‘Did I scan this? Did I not scan this? Did I do a good job? Did I do a bad job?’” Avar said. “And they have more time to concentrate on more crucial jobs, more satisfying jobs. Their confidence level grew like the system itself.”

Earlier this year, Sick AG was recognized for the creation of smaRTLog by being designated a 2022 finalist at the SAP Innovation Awards, a yearly event honoring organizations that have used SAP technologies to improve both business and society. You can read about Sick’s amazing accomplishment in their Innovation Awards pitch deck.

Avar believes that, with infrastructure considerations now diminished, the solution gives companies the flexibility to grow in ways that hadn’t existed before. The platform “can change or support their digital strategies,” he said, “and it’s a blueprint that other companies can follow.”

To learn more about Sick’s creation of smaRTLog, read their Innovation Awards pitch deck.

Collaboration Software

In the coming years, NASA’s James Webb telescope will discover the edge of the observable universe, allowing astronomers to search for the very earliest stars and galaxies, formed more than 13 billion years ago.

That’s quite a contrast to today’s network operations visibility, which can sometimes feel like the lens cap has been left on the telescope. Explosive growth in new technology adoption, growing complexity, and the explosive use of internet and cloud networks has created unprecedented blind spots in how we monitor network delivery.

These visibility gaps obscure knowledge about critical applications and service performance. They can also hide security threats making them more difficult to detect. Ultimately, it can impact customer experience, revenue growth, and brand perception.

A global survey by Dimensional Research finds that 81% of organizations have network blind spots. More than 60% of larger companies state they have 50,000 or more network devices and 73% indicate it is growing increasingly difficult to manage their network. According to the study, removing network blind spots and increased monitoring coverage will improve security, reliability, and performance.

Dimensional Research also reports that current monitoring and operations solutions are ill-equipped for the tasks at hand and unable to support a massive influx of new technology over the next two years, leading to slower adoption and deployment with increased business risk.

Without solutions that deliver expanded visibility into remote locations, un-managed networks, and traffic patterns, IT can become overly dependent on end-users to report service issues after these problems have impacted performance. And no organization wants that to happen.

Performance insights across the edge infrastructure and beyond 

The massive adoption of SaaS and Cloud apps has made the job of IT even harder when it comes to understanding the performance of business functions. With no visibility into the internet that delivers these apps to users, IT is forced to resort to status pages and support tickets to determine if an outage does or does not affect users.

Now is the time to rethink network operations and evolve traditional NetOps into Experience-Driven NetOps. You need to extend visibility beyond the edge of the enterprise network to internet monitoring and bring modern capabilities like end-user experience monitoring, active testing of network delivery, and network path tracing into the network operations center. Only by being equipped with such capabilities can organizations ensure networks are experience-proven and network operations teams are experience-driven.  As a result, they gain credibility and build confidence in business users while delivering hybrid working and cloud transformations.

Take the real-world example of a major oil and gas services company. Most employees were set to work from home at the outset of the pandemic. The organization needed to scale up the WAN infrastructure from 10,000 to 60,000 users in just a few weeks. The challenge was to see into VPN gateways, ISP links, and Internet router performance to manage this increase in use.  By standardizing on a modern network monitoring platform, the company benefited from unified performance and capacity analytics that enabled making the right upgrade decisions to increase the number of remote workers by six-fold.

You can learn more about how to tackle the challenges of network visibility in this new eBook, Guide To Visibility Anywhere. Read now and discover how organizations can create network visibility anywhere.

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