If you believe the hype, generative AI has the potential to transform how we work and play with digital technologies.

Today’s eye-popping text-and-image generating classes of AI capture most of the limelight, but this newfangled automation is also coming to software development.

It is too soon to say what impact this emerging class of code-generating AI will have on the digital world. Descriptors ranging from “significant” to “profound” are regularly tossed around.

What we do know: IT must take a more proactive role in supporting software developers as they begin to experiment with these emergent technologies.

Generative AI Could Change the Game

Many generative AI coding tools have come to the fore, but perhaps none possesses more pedigree than Copilot, developed by Microsoft’s GitHub coding project management hub.

A type of virtual assistant, Copilot uses machine learning to recommend the next line of code a programmer might write. Just as OpenAI’s ChatGPT gathers reams of text from large corpuses of Web content, Copilot takes its bits and bytes insights from the large body of software projects stored on GitHub.

Although it’s early days for such tools, developers are excited about Copilot’s potential for enhanced workflows, productivity gained and time saved. Empirical and anecdotal evidence suggests it can shave anywhere between 10% and 55% of time coding, depending on who you listen to.

Today Copilot is targeted at professional programmers who have mastered GitHub and committed countless hours to creating and poring over code. Yet it’s quite possible that Copilot and other tools like it will follow the money and migrate downstream to accommodate so-called citizen developers.

DIY AI, for Non-Coders

Typically sitting in a business function such as sales or marketing, citizen-developers (cit-devs)  are non-professional programmers who use low-code or no-code software to build field service, market and analytics apps through drag-and-drop interfaces rather than via the rigors of traditional hand-coding.

If the low-code/no-code evolution has come to your company, you may have marveled at how this capability freed your staff to focus on other tasks, even as you helped these erstwhile developers color within the governance lines.

Considering their all-around efficacy, self-service, do-it-yourself tools are in-demand: The market for low-code and no-code platforms is poised to top $27 billion market in 2023, according to Gartner.

Now imagine what organizations will pony up for similar tools that harness AI to strap rocket boosters onto software development for non-techie coders. In the interest of catering to these staff, GitHub, OpenAI and others will likely create versions of their coding assistants that streamline development for cit-devs. GitHub, for example, is adding voice and chat interfaces to simplify its UX even more.

It’s not hard to imagine where it goes from there. Just as the API economy fostered new ecosystems of software interoperability, generative AI plugins will facilitate more intelligent information services for big brands. Already OpenAI plugins are connecting ChatGPT to third-party applications, enabling the conversational AI to interact with APIs defined by developers.

One imagines this AI-styled plug-and-play will broaden the potential for developers, both of the casual and professional persuasion. Workers will copilot coding tasks alongside generative AI, ideally enhancing their workflows. This emerging class of content creation tools will foster exciting use cases and innovation while affording your developers teams with more options for how they execute their work. This will also mean development will continue to become more decentralized outside the realm of IT.

Keep an Open Mind for the Future

The coming convergence of generative AI and software development will have broad implications and pose new challenges for your IT organization.

As an IT leader, you will have to strike the balance between your human coders—be they professionals or cit-devs—and their digital coworkers to ensure optimal productivity. You must provide your staff  guidance and guardrails that are typical of organizations adopting new and experimental AI.

Use good judgment. Don’t enter proprietary or otherwise corporate information and assets into these tools.

Make sure the output aligns with the input, which will require understanding of what you hope to achieve. This step, aimed at pro programmers with knowledge of garbage in/garbage out practices, will help catch some of the pitfalls associated with new technologies.

When in doubt give IT a shout.

Or however you choose to lay down the law on responsible AI use. Regardless of your stance, the rise of generative AI underscores how software is poised for its biggest evolution since the digital Wild West known as Web 2.0.

No one knows what the generative AI landscape will look like a few months from now let alone how it will impact businesses worldwide.

Is your IT house in order? Are you prepared to shepherd your organization through this exciting but uncertain future?

Learn more about our Dell Technologies APEX portfolio of cloud experiences, which affords developers more options for how and where to run workloads while meeting corporate safeguards: Dell Technologies APEX

Business Intelligence and Analytics Software

“You can never drive the car looking through the rearview mirror,” says Joe Locandro, CIO of Fletcher Building, one of Australasia’s largest building materials supplier. “As CIO, you have to keep looking ahead and feel comfortable in backing yourself. That’s the difference between being CIO and an IT manager—one is responsible for getting things done, the other for a vision and making a difference.”

Fletcher Building is an $NZ8 billion organization made up of more than 30 companies that range from manufacturing, mining aggregates, road making, and more, and when it was time to digitally transform and better enable a data-driven and platforms-based business, Locandro’s forward-thinking philosophy was integral in the company’s efforts to succeed.

Creating the right platform

In the year he’s been CIO, Locandro has moved quickly to simplify and streamline the IT set-up around such a complex business. “If you think about the last century, companies were built point to point,” he says. “You end up with a spaghetti tree built out of mergers and acquisitions and it becomes costly. Most companies will put in SAP and a version for each country and then customize it. We’re doing one global instance moving from 17 instances to one. Furthermore, we’re busy moving from 750 Edge systems to 350.”

Fletcher Building’s visionary adoption of a cutting-edge ERP platform is on track to revolutionize its digital infrastructure and serve as a launchpad for innovation across the group. The Digital@Fletchers program consolidates these 17 unique ERP instances and approximately 350 interfacing satellite systems into a single, unified ERP core. This harmonized approach, with 80% commonality and 20% local configuration, simplifies upgrades while significantly reducing costs.

The transformational power of this unified ERP arrangement also allows businesses within the Fletcher Group to build on a solid foundation, driving synergies and fostering innovation. By streamlining processes and eliminating almost half of the satellite systems, the new ERP landscape empowers Fletcher companies to focus on developing novel solutions and accelerating growth using the new ERP Core system.

“When it comes to a platform-based business, you can plug and play and get synergies so the whole group can take advantage of your customized e-commerce platform, data and analytics platform, and safety platform,” he says. “That’s why we’re moving into a platforms-based business, and as we do new mergers and acquisitions, we plug them into the system. We run a federated model, and as a group IT function, we determine what is core, what is standard, and then we allow the businesses the freedom to innovate on top of them. We get the synergies of scale, and the flexibility and agility of innovation.”

Making a difference

Fletcher Building is essentially a vertically integrated building company with specific technical challenges, and, in particular, Locandro sees the biggest problem for aspiring CIOs is a lack of cohesion with the business, merely having technical people who can’t align a strategy to achieve a business outcome. There must be an ability to deal with ambiguity and map out a path in order to get there by the time the tech matures, he says. And in an organization of this size, challenges and threats appear every day.

Broadly speaking, however, three pillars drive the company forward. One is about gathering operational efficiency in order to reduce the cost to serve, digitize, and automate inefficient processes. The second revolves around growing customer intimacy, and, to this end, Fletcher is developing CRM systems and other more customer-facing applications. “We want to get intimate, to use analytics and search engines to build a persona and profile,” he says. “A new ERP system will allow us to see a customer who deals with us end to end rather than in their disparate silos. We focus on using digital apps together with the rest of it to help increase our net promoter score.”

And the third, simply put, centers on breakthrough innovation. Its scale and scope illustrate how tech innovation delivers paradigm shifts in how the business operates, from its use of drones to survey material stockpiles and the integrity of road surfaces, to using AI to look at concrete and cement mixtures to reduce CO2 emissions, as well as it’s applications in safety systems to predict preventable injuries. There’s also innovation in operationally efficient call centers, and state-of-the-art Google hubs and analytics to develop intelligent decisions to feed back into the ERP systems. “We’re also doing IOT sensors in factories to do health checks and predictive maintenance before machines break down,” he says. “With 5G tech, we can put it into real-time feeds.”

Locandro is confident he can use his global experience to turn such highly ambitious goals into reality. “No matter where I work, it’s all about transformation and leaving a legacy behind, and being prepared to do the hard yards into a new evolution,” he says. “Industrial and manufacturing businesses have a reputation for being laggards in digitization, but we’re turning that around.”

CIO, Digital Transformation, ERP Systems, IT Leadership

The energy sector is in a consistent state of transformation—both digital and otherwise—but the word “transformation” can be thrown around loosely, as if it just happens with an organization. In reality, it’s hard work, and hard to do. Change is challenging, and maintaining high-performance and diverse teams is fundamental to deliver success.

“A main thing organizations face is the position of technology within it, and how well respected or well thought of your technology team is,” says Mandy Simpson, chief digital officer at fuel retailer Z Energy, New Zealand. “Until you’ve built trust into this team, and it’s well thought of to do what it says it’s going to do, it’s hard to make significant change. My starting point in every organization I’ve worked for is how to become a trusted partner. Once you’re there, everything gets easier, so your expertise starts to be seen as something to be trusted to move the organization forward. You have to build that a little piece at a time by doing what you say you’re going to do over weeks, months, and years.”

Attracting that integral workforce, however, is a challenge in itself. Drawing more people to IT and tech roles, regardless of background, requires shattering the stereotypes of the industry and the perception of how narrow the search criteria for talent is.

“We have to showcase the diversity of roles,” says Simpson. “Within my area, we have everything from developers, testers, and integration, but also through BA Scrum Masters, there’s product management, design, and data analytics, all set within our digital team. There’s something for everyone, and showcasing that is really important.”

Of course, being in a position on the leadership team affords Simpson the position to hear everything going on, and thereby have an opinion or offer input.

“I don’t just sit in the leadership team and talk about technology,” she says. “I make it my job to understand all the things that are going on. This is my first role in the energy sector, so there was a steep learning curve as I tried to understand everything from fuel supply through to the customer-facing parts of our business. There are heaps I don’t yet fully understand, but that’s part of it. You can’t influence if you don’t understand the business you’re trying to influence.”

For Simpson, the bottom line is get the widest experience you can because the role of a CDO, CTO, or CIO, is, at its heart, a dynamic leadership role.

“I think people worry that if they step outside their technical role, it’s hard to get back in,” she says. “If somebody offers you an opportunity to do something different, do it because those experiences are what, in the end, give you this kind of wider view of the world. Go for the roles that scare you. That’s when you learn the most.”

CIO Leadership Live New Zealand’s O’Sullivan recently spoke with Simpson about embracing change, achieving a transformation end point, and what it takes to be a forward-thinking, modern-day CIO. Watch the full video below for more insights.

On high-change organizations: One thing that’s been the same in every organization I’ve worked for is they’ve been high-change organizations. Either ones that are going through sector-wide transformation like Z is now, or high-growth organizations. Transformation has been really important in all of those. And one thing I love about that is it means you can really bring your experience into the role and look for ways to improve things relatively quickly. Areas of high change are something that definitely suit me. They don’t suit everybody. And I think there are leaders who have a preference for being involved in organizations that are maybe a bit more steady-state, but I am definitely a bit of a change junkie.

On the transformation trajectory: We might feel like there’s a starting point to transformation, but in fact it’s been an ever-transforming landscape. If you work in technology, you’ve been in change forever. The technology itself is changing, but also how we use technology in businesses and how we think about it has changed a lot in the past decade. I don’t think there’s ever exactly a starting point. The most important thing is to start where you are, not wish for something different or wish to go backward, but just to start with what you have. Then take that as the playing field to play from. I often find people get stuck when they wish they had more people, more money, or that senior leadership would listen to them. You just have to use the playing field you have. In lots of other areas of our lives, we don’t take that approach. It’s much easier if you can just accept what you have and move forward from there.

On what transformation is: My view on transformation—digital transformation, in particular—is we’re moving toward an endpoint. Lots of people will say it’s ever-changing, and I agree that, from a technology point, it is. But to me, the endpoint is an agile organization, and I don’t mean agile as in the way we think about doing work, but a nimble organization. If you can transform your organization to the point where it’s able to rapidly respond to whatever happens, then that’s the transformation. So, is there an endpoint to that? There are always tweaks along the way, but you can see organizations move from being static to being able to deal with whatever comes at them. That’s relevant to us at Z, because you could say, “In 40 years’ time, there’s no future in hydrocarbons.” That might happen in 10 years or 100 years. I have no idea which of those is true, and I have to be ready for all of them. We also don’t know what the replacements are going to be. Are we looking at electricity, hydrogen? What’s the role of biofuels here? All of those things are rapidly changing. The Prime Minister actually just announced that the biofuels mandate is now going to be cancelled, so how do we respond to that? Does that actually change what we’re going to do? As an organization—not just the technology part but the whole organization—we need to be able to move forward quickly. That, to me, is the goal of transformation: To move your culture of your organization forward. The technology parts in transformation are just ongoing along the way.

On being a modern-day CIO: The biggest thing is being a wider leader. Leading an organization, not a technology function, I very much see my role and all of the Z leadership roles. I don’t just lead the technology function of Z; I, along with my colleagues, lead Z. That ability to step up and out, and see the wider picture is really important. Communication skills and translating technology to the strategic objectives of the business and back, and making that connection, is incredibly important to help every level of the organization prioritize. I’m not sure there was ever a time we had enough resources to do everything we wanted to do, but that feels more acute now than it has done in the past. That makes a strong approach to prioritize what needs doing, and ensure it’s fully agreed across a whole organization. If anybody ever finds the perfect way to do that, I would love to know. I spent a lot of time thinking about that process. And we have a strong delineation between prioritization, which is done by our business leaders, and then planning, which is done by the technology team and various team members of the areas they plan for. That’s taken a long time to bed in, but it’s running nicely now, which means I can spend more of my time focusing on prioritization, knowing that the organization will plan to the prioritization list we’ve given.

On nurturing talent: We have people who spend two or three years at Z, but we also have people who have been here for over 35 years. It’s a culture where you can move around and get some entirely different parts to your career. One thing Z does, which is different to anything I’ve seen before, is recognize that every person is a leader. We talk about what leadership attributes you should have at every stage of your career, and I think that makes career transitions easier. It’s not like you suddenly become a leader partway through. We talk about leadership from day one. Then it’s helping people to think about their career, not necessarily in terms of the roles they want to have, but what they want to do. Helping people understand themselves is something we spend a lot of time thinking about.

Chief Digital Officer, Digital Transformation, Diversity and Inclusion, Energy Industry, IT Leadership

The potential for generative AI systems such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard to transform how businesses work is being realized. Hype still surrounds some predictions, but change is here, and one of the first product categories to be impacted is CRM systems. 

Software-based services are the low-hanging fruit when it comes to this emerging revolution. AI can be plugged into existing software more easily than using it to build services from scratch. CRM systems are a particularly attractive target for this since when implemented effectively, they can have a rapid impact on a company’s bottom line. Nudging sales up a couple of points by better targeting profitable customers is a realistic strategy for a CRM deployment.

Segmenting customers more effectively

A well-integrated CRM system should be able to produce reports on customer segments, spending patterns, and spend history. From this, marketing campaigns can be tailored to reach specific customer groups or direct sales approaches made by a sales team. However, depending on the CRM and its configuration, these reports can be difficult to run and be delayed reaching the right people. Microsoft’s integration of ChatGPT into its Power Platform is enabling businesses to quickly build their own workflows that incorporate a user-friendly chat interface. Rather than running often complex report requests, users from across the marketing and sales team can use natural language to identify prospects instantly.

Transforming the sales funnel

Building on the capability above, sales funnels and customer journeys can be modified on the fly to adapt to changing variables such as economic conditions, competitor activity, and evolving tastes. What worked last month, for instance, may not work this month and AI offers the potential for a more dynamic process of changing prospects into customers. 

Repurposing corporate information assets

Companies are drowning in data, with IDC predicting there will be more than a five-fold increase in the data generated by organizations between 2018 and 2025. Bearing in mind that only about 2% of the data generated in 2020 was retained and used in 2021, many businesses are not effectively leveraging their information assets. Generative AI offers the potential to quickly and cost-effectively repurpose corporate data assets as marketing materials, whether in text or image formats.   

Creating personalized marketing content

To further help leverage information assets, marketing content and messages can be tailored on a personalized basis to suit the needs and desires of individual customers and prospects. It’s not too far-fetched to imagine generative AI systems showing customers wearing or using a company’s products in a variety of scenarios. Clearly there are privacy issues, and any implementations would need to be managed very carefully but, with appropriate customer opt-ins, it’s easily within the realms of possibility.

Incorporating the power of platforms

The CRM vendors set to dominate this emerging landscape will be those who build platforms that draw in third-party developers to extend their product offerings, and this year, we’re already seeing this with announcements from Salesforce and Microsoft. Many of the winners of the last 20 years of technological innovation have been companies that built platforms. Both software and hardware products are improved by complementary services built by outside specialists, and creating a thriving ecosystem of apps and add-ons mutually benefits the platform host, its users, and developers. Smaller CRM vendors will struggle to achieve this, however, as they may not have the critical mass of a large user-base needed to attract developers. 

Just as the internet and the Web have changed how we communicate, find information, and shop, so to will generative AI change the dynamics of competition for most businesses. The technological infrastructure is in place for this new generation of AI systems to sweep away many established ways of working. CRM will be just one part of this revolution, but its impact will be felt across all sectors of the economy.

Artificial Intelligence, Channel Sales, CRM Systems

The metaverse—a fast-emerging combination of technologies including augmented and virtual reality, IoT, and blockchain—is poised to change the way financial services organizations and other companies do business.   

“By blending the physical and the digital worlds, the metaverse is changing the rules of engagement and enabling us to connect without barriers,” says Anupam Singhal, a Senior Vice President at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). “For financial institutions, it can transform the way they offer services and training, making them more convenient, engaging, accessible and inclusive.”   

Metaverse applications are developing quickly. According to Gartner, 25% of people will spend at least an hour in the metaverse by 2026. While financial institutions are starting to experiment with pilot programs, they must ensure that they have the right infrastructure and security protections in place to reap the full-scale benefits the metaverse has to offer.  

Innovative products and services 

In the metaverse, financial institutions can offer customers and employees personalized experiences that leave a lasting impression. For example, clients can hold virtual consultations with investment advisors across the globe and improve their financial knowledge by using 3D interactive tools. Financial institutions can also cater to underserved and underbanked customers with minimal to no charges.  

Employees, even the ones situated in isolated, remote locations, can take virtual tours and gain knowledge faster. TCS is developing an application, for example, that leads new employees on a lifelike journey through a bank’s corporate buildings and history as part of their onboarding experience. And with virtual training, employees can practice skills in a realistic, risk-free environment. 

Metaverse services can also help banks attract new customers.  

“We have a lineup of exciting projects, including creating a virtual bank for retail transactions and a non-fungible token marketplace using blockchain,” Singhal says. “We have already implemented augmented marketing and branding solutions in retail, and we are working on pilots in the business-to-business and business-to-consumer spaces.”  

A seamless, secure infrastructure 

To make these dynamic services possible, organizations must create digital replicas of the real world, supported by dedicated offerings on Microsoft Cloud. Seamless connectivity and extremely low latency, enabled by specialized graphics and edge processing, are also critical to providing vivid experiences and near-real time interactions.   

“With decentralized Web3 technology, users can also take advantage of peer-to-peer capabilities, running some tools and platforms on their devices instead of relying on the cloud,” Singhal says.  

In addition to creating ground-breaking experiences, the metaverse, like other emerging technologies, brings a new set of security challenges. Rogue actors could attempt to steal target NFTs and tokens, or use deepfake techniques to impersonate financial advisors. Personal data collected by AR and VR applications creates greater opportunities for identity theft.  

“We must rethink how we address data privacy and security in the metaverse,” Singhal says. “We need strong regulations like GDPR to define clear boundaries. We also need more security measures like multi-factor authentication and digital encryption to ensure secure experiences.”   

Getting started in the metaverse 

Every organization must carve its own path to the metaverse, a process that starts by examining existing technology and defining services to prioritize.   

“TCS has a successful history of helping businesses grow and transform through technology and make a meaningful difference. We can help leaders identify areas where they can improve, whether that means upgrading infrastructure, investing in new technology, or bringing in new talent. We can co-develop metaverse strategies that align with their business goals and objectives,” Singhal says.  

Organizations can then co-create experiences on the TCS AvapresenceTM platform, which uses blockchain, AI, AR, VR, and mixed reality technologies to address customer needs. For financial services companies, TCS has developed a specialized program that involves training their associates to become proficient in using several 3D engines and platforms to address industry challenges, including security, data privacy, and compliance concerns.   

Financial organizations that want to gain a competitive edge should get started soon.  

“Banks that offer virtual services are going to have a larger consumer mindshare, particularly among younger generations,” Singhal says. “By engaging with the right experts, leaders can break boundaries and take advantage of the metaverse’s limitless opportunities.” 

Learn how to master your cloud transformation journey with TCS and Microsoft Cloud. 

Financial Services Industry

At Broadcom, we see challenges companies face first-hand, and in turn how technology trends impact the world’s largest companies. We’re sharing the top 5 predictions that you should be planning for in 2023.

Stay tuned for future blogs that dive into the technology behind these predictions from Broadcom’s industry-leading experts:

AI and automation will play an even more expanded role in technology

Whether in chips, software, or services, Broadcom believes artificial intelligence and automation go hand-in-hand in driving operational efficiencies, adaptive processes, higher performance and stronger security. Enabling AI becomes even more crucial across the entire IT stack.

AI-powered features are finding their way into every layer of technology that organizations use. According to one leading analyst firm, flexibility and adaptability are now the rules of the game — many businesses have learned this the hard way during the COVID pandemic. For many organizations, these changes demand “resilience-by-design” and “adaptive-by-definition.”

User experiences become critical in a hyper-connected, intelligent world

Broadcom believes people will have higher expectations for exceptional digital experiences across a wide range of devices and applications in 2023 and beyond. As our world becomes more inter-connected and based in artificial intelligence, user experience becomes even more critical to drive customer and employee satisfaction and retention. Employees expect consumer-friendly interfaces and continuous uptime even as they use business critical applications. Consumers have high expectations for digital experiences in online banking, email, cloud storage, video on demand (VoD), smart digital assistants, and virtual reality.

Trust management becomes critical for cybersecurity

Broadcom believes a move to distributed and decentralized trust will increase rapidly in 2023. This decentralization leads to new ways of transacting, communicating, and doing business — and not just for humans. Different applications have different access-granting or -restricting policies. The criteria on which a decision is based may differ greatly among different applications (or even between different instances of the same application).

What will be common among them will be the need to grant or restrict access to resources according to security criteria. A shift in managing trust will need to happen so that the security mechanism can handle those different criteria. With distributed trust, risk will need to be managed more closely across every aspect of business. And security around trust must be customized to the business. This will require artificial intelligence that enables security to rapidly adapt to each customer’s environment.

Multi-cloud will help deliver stronger business value

Broadcom believes large global organizations will continue the transition to customizing their cloud infrastructure to better fit their particular business in 2023. The cloud conversation is shifting from a technology discussion to a business- and even industry-model discussion. Vertical industries, such as banking, healthcare, and manufacturing, are shifting toward an agile platform supported by a portfolio of industry-specific business capabilities directly relevant for their specific industry. These industry clouds offer more adaptability, more business functionality, and more innovation.

Multi-cloud is the future of enterprise IT. A multi-cloud approach enables the flexibility to manage and protect data across different environments – private, public, or sovereign – at will. And when integrated with sovereign cloud, multi-cloud enables customers to deliver differentiated services at scale while remaining secure and in compliance with regulatory frameworks. Maintaining this choice, control, and agility is both crucial for growth and a daunting task for enterprises globally.

Wireless broadband will connect our digital future

Broadcom believes innovation in wireless broadband infrastructure will deliver more inventive applications in 2023. This next-generation wireless broadband, with its high speed and low latency capabilities, will power the internet at the edge to deliver immersive augmented reality and virtual reality, whole-home video distribution, gaming, and telemedicine to name just a few. Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7, using the 6 GHz band, will complement the multi-gigabit “10G” broadband coming into residences and enterprises to enable new experiences that extend beyond traditional communications.   

Watch for our 2023 Predictions blog series featuring some of the most brilliant minds in the industry. And to stay up to date on all of the latest new and emerging technology from Broadcom, make sure to:

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Digital Transformation, IT Leadership

3M Health Information Systems (3M HIS), one of the world’s largest providers of software solutions for the healthcare industry, exemplifies 3M Co.’s legendary culture of innovation. By combining the power of a cloud-based data ecosystem with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), 3M HIS is transforming physician workflows and laborious “back office” processes to help healthcare organizations streamline clinical documentation and billing, enhance security and compliance, and redesign the physician-patient experience.

The cloud served as the foundation for this transformation. Migrating its 3MTM 360 EncompassTM System clients to Amazon Web Services (AWS) is helping 3M HIS improve the capture, management, and analysis of patient information across the continuum of care. 3M 360 Encompass is a collection of applications that work together to help hospitals streamline processes, receive accurate reimbursement, promote compliance, and make data-informed decisions. The cloud-based version of the platform has helped 3M HIS and its clients address three primary challenges: a disjointed patient care journey; the byzantine processes that often inhibit timely and accurate billing, reimbursement, and other record-keeping; and the ongoing need to protect and properly use patient data.

Improving the patient care journey with data and the cloud

The broader objective of 3M HIS’s evolving cloud transformation strategy is to help caregivers improve patient outcomes and staff efficiencies by removing barriers to care and providing access to contextually relevant insights at the time of care, according to Detlef Koll, Vice President of Product Development with 3M HIS. Caregivers now work with consistent, reliable tools within 3M 360 Encompass that improve communication and reduce the types of errors and delays that cause patient anxiety and revenue cycle inefficiencies.

The journey a patient takes through the healthcare system can span years and touch multiple providers, from primary care to specialists, test labs, medical imaging, and pharmacies. During each step, multiple types of data are captured in the patient’s medical record, which serves as an ongoing “narrative” of the patient’s clinical condition and the care delivered. Physician notes from visits and procedures, test results, and prescriptions are captured and added to the patient’s chart and reviewed by medical coding specialists, who work with tens of thousands of codes used by insurance companies to authorize billing and reimbursement.

A complete, compliant, structured, and timely clinical note created in the electronic health record (EHR) empowers many downstream users and is essential for delivering collaborative care and driving appropriate reimbursement. Supporting physicians with cloud-based, speech-enabled documentation workflows, 3M HIS further creates time to care by delivering proactive, patient-specific, and in-workflow clinical insights as the note is being created.

The goal of this automated computer-assisted physician documentation (CAPD) technology is to reduce the cognitive overload on physicians regarding coding requirements while closing gaps in patient care and clinical documentation. Without CAPD closing that loop in real time, errors or ambiguities in the clinical note lead to what Koll describes as an “asynchronous” process, requiring physicians to review and correct the note on a patient seen days earlier, thus taking the physician’s time away from patient care and causing delays in the revenue cycle.

To address the issue, 3M HIS needed a way to semantically integrate information from multiple data sources based on the needs of various use cases, so it deployed AWS data management tools and services, including Amazon RDS, Amazon Redshift, and Amazon Athena, for what Koll calls “opportunistic aggregation of information.” For example, for billing coding, the platform extracts only the relevant billable elements such as an office visit for which a claim will be submitted. This type of flexible, cloud-based data management allows 3M HIS to aggregate different data sets for different purposes, ensuring both data integrity and faster processing. “This is a dynamic view on data that evolves over time,” said Koll.

Improving workflows through intelligent, automated processes

The process for gathering data about a patient’s care, then extracting the billable elements to submit to an insurance company for reimbursement, has long been handled by professional coders who can accurately tag each medical procedure with the correct code out of tens of thousands of possibilities. Errors in that process can lead to rejected claims and additional time required by caregivers to correct any gaps or inconsistencies in clinical documentation, which in turn delays cash flows across the complex network of physicians, hospitals, labs, pharmacies, suppliers, and insurers. 

3M HIS’s cloud transformation strategy addressed this challenge by giving clients access to a new suite of data management and AI/ML tools that deliver levels of processing power, functionality, and scale unthinkable in the former on-premises model.  

“If you had to build some of the capabilities yourself, you would probably never get there,”
said Michael Dolezal, Vice President of 3M  Digital Science Community.  With AWS tools such as Amazon QuickSight and Amazon SageMaker, 3M HIS’s clients can “get there” today: “Now our clients not only have a cloud-based instance for their data, but they gain access to tools they never had before and get the ability to do things they otherwise wouldn’t,” Dolezal said. By bringing 3M 360 Encompass to the AWS Cloud, 3M HIS has been able to scale natural language processing and automation capabilities and leverage tools such as Amazon Textract to improve data input and processing to more efficiently organize a patient’s chart.

Automatic speech recognition to capture the clinical narrative at the point of care, along with AWS AI/ML services, helps 3M HIS aggregate, structure, and contextualize data to enable the development of task-specific workflow applications. For instance, to mitigate the administrative burden on physicians, real-time dictation and transcription workflows can be enhanced with automated, closed-loop CAPD, whereby a physician dictating an admit note can be “nudged” that a certain condition is not fully specified in the note and can fix the gap in real time.

Taking frontline physician-assistive solutions to the next level, embedded virtual assistant technology can automate everyday tasks like placing orders for medications and tests. Innovating incrementally toward smarter and more automated workstreams, the 3M HIS ambient clinical documentation solution makes documentation in the EHR a byproduct of the natural patient-physician conversation and not a separate, onerous task for the doctor. This frees the physician to focus completely on the patient during the visit, thereby transforming the experience of healthcare for all stakeholders.

“We want to reduce the inefficient steps in the old model by unifying and information-enabling workflows so that documentation of the procedure and the coding of that procedure are no longer separate work steps,” said Koll. “It has the potential to save hours of time per day for a doctor.”  

Enhancing the security of patient data

The security and governance of patient data is non-negotiable in healthcare, an industry subject to the most stringent data privacy regulations. Administrators are obligated to make sure patient data is consistently used only for its intended purpose, is processed only by the application it was collected for, and stored and retained according to the specific national regulations involved. The cloud gives 3M HIS more confidence that the data passing through its platform remains secure throughout its journey.

“Using a cloud-based solution means you can apply the same security practices and protocol monitoring across all of your data in a very consistent way,” said Dolezal. The platform ensures a shared responsibility for security across 3M HIS, its clients, and AWS.  

Securing patient data in an on-premises health information system puts the onus to protect that information on the client’s infosec team, with risks compounded by each client’s unique IT infrastructure and internal data access policies. Security by design is one of the underlying operating principles for AWS. With a single set of code to monitor, maintain, and patch, 3M HIS is able to keep its platform current, quickly respond to new threats, and vigorously protect patient data centrally, with more certainty that its clients are protected as well.

4 best practices for data-driven transformation

Dolezal and Koll advise anyone considering moving large sets of data to the cloud to follow some fundamental precepts in designing a new solution:

Start with the client and work backward to a solution:  Be clear on the problem you want to solve and the outcomes you want to deliver to the caregiver and patient and work backward from there to identify the right technology tools and services to help achieve those goals.Don’t over-engineer the solution: Many IT organizations are moving away from traditional point solutions for collecting, storing, and analyzing patient information. To reduce complexity, enhance security, and improve flexibility, consider an end-to-end solution that is easier to deploy and update than traditional on-premises solutions, and lets organizations add new functionality incrementally.Bake in security from the start: In highly regulated industries, such as healthcare and financial services, security regulations demand high levels of security and personal privacy protection. These capabilities must be built in as foundational components of any system used to collect, manage, and analyze that data.Don’t constrain native data: Create a data management strategy that accommodates all types of data and isn’t confined to a specific set of use cases today. With both structured and unstructured data flowing into the system, the future ability to analyze the past means having data schema that doesn’t need to be re-architected.

In an intense environment with a relentless focus on cost reduction and improved clinical outcomes in conjunction with greater patient and physician well-being, 3M HIS helps clients efficiently capture and access patient data, gain meaningful insights from all the data, and drive high-value action to meet complex goals.

Learn more about ways to put your data to work on the most scalable, trusted, and secure cloud.

Cloud Computing, Healthcare Industry

The CIO has a real ability to achieve a competitive advantage for its business through data. This is the underlying purpose of the digital transformation exercises that have been so significant to IT in recent years. For the CIO to be successful with this, there needs to be a comprehensive strategy that extends far beyond simply deploying new technologies. Many CIOs are now working with an IT environment that can deliver a modern data strategy but are struggling to unlock the full potential.

The first step for CIOs is to break down internal barriers and address the problems caused by data siloed in legacy environments. As we saw in the previous article (How The CIO Can Become The CMO’s Best Ally In The Use Of Data), this ultimately comes down to the CIO’s ability to achieve stakeholder alignment across the executive team.

As Warren Jenson, LiveRamp President, said, failing to do this first can be counter-intuitive to the company’s data goals. “Alignment between the company’s mission and goals to each area of data collection, monetization, and collaboration creates a clear road map for interlocking data and business strategies, eliminating the possibility of missing new revenue-generating opportunities.”

The four steps to data advantage

A recent report from LiveRamp outlines the four steps that can bring a company to data maturity.

1) Match the tech strategy to the business strategy. “Disorganized data and disjointed digital tools often cause decision fatigue that can further disconnect business goals from tech and data strategies,” Jenson said. Organisations that can properly align their data environments stand to gain a significant competitive advantage.

Stephan Zimmerman, a Senior Partner at McKinsey & Company, confirms this sentiment in the LiveRamp report. “Companies should have a consistent data blueprint linking use cases to create business value and identify early wins to help build momentum for the organisation.” This is important, since the executive buy-in the CIO has earned needs to deliver quickly in order to encourage further investment for even higher value, but longer-term, projects.

2) Invest in an identity solution. Identity enables enterprises to unify and consolidate their customer view, which is an ongoing challenge for most businesses today. “Identity awards your consumers with more personalisation, better experiences across channels, and helps prevent an unhelpful or repetitive ad experience,” Jenson said. “For internal stakeholders, identity strengthens customer intelligence, improves ROI and generates new revenue streams across sales, marketing, IT and other departments, among many other benefits.”

In short, an identity solution is critical to being able to properly analyse and leverage customer data. Here, LiveRamp uses the retail vertical as a use case: “E-commerce often exists entirely separate from data generated by in-store operations. Imagine what insights merchandisers could glean if they were able to analyse transactions and other pertinent data across the full customer journey?”

An identity solution that is defined as “people-based” enables intracompany and intercompany data collaboration while allowing the CIO to maintain tight control over these assets.

3) Collaborate with partners. With the proper controls in place, the CIO can start to bring their organisation’s data together with second- and third-party data to generate far deeper and more powerful insights. A good example of this is media companies, which have deep analytics into their audiences and can segment according to the needs of their partners. In collaboration with the CMO, the CIO can bring their company’s own data in connection to a media partner for better targeting and measurement.

“Publishing and the TV industries have rich and valuable data sets. Thanks to the rise in granular privacy controls that mitigate risk of unauthorized data access or use, both are growing areas where meaningful data partnerships are finally possible,” Jenson noted.

4) Use data to build new revenue streams. By step four the CIO is delivering meaningful new revenue streams to their business, which can then be reinvested into other initiatives. The retail industry is a prime example. By leveraging its wealth of first-party data assets to set up a retail media network, Amazon was able to generate $31.1 billion in ads, and Walmart $2.1 billion for its own.

The LiveRamp report also shares the experience of Boots, which went from 7 percent of media being booked using first-party data, to over 40 percent using data collaboration to unlock customer insights. “The opportunity has to be that you are there in that moment of customer need. Having that passion for the customer, backed with the data that says, if we know our customers better and we understand their lives and the role we play in them, and we are looking out for those key moments and using the best technology, then that’s how we’re going to win.”

Data is undoubtedly a major point of investment for organisations. A recent McKinsey report noted that in a company that has $5 billion in operating costs, third-party data sourcing, architecture, governance and consumption will cost $250 million –  2 percent of the cost in itself. When managed well, and supported by the right tools, this becomes a competitive advantage and investment into further growth for the business.

For more information about getting started with your data collaboration strategy, click here.

Data Center Management

As organizations brace for challenging economic conditions, they will need to be strategic and flexible on where they spend their resources to maintain business resilience. Proactive intelligence and automation tools will be essential as organizations enter “survival mode,” focusing on sustaining growth and efficiency. More importantly, organizations should ensure that even with a limited workforce and tightened budgets, the value and services they deliver to customers aren’t impacted.

However, monitoring and maintaining the myriad of infrastructure and application platforms that support business services is difficult when only using traditional methods. Investing in a solution that automatically and securely collects, aggregates, and analyzes data can enable teams with proactive intelligence to help organizations achieve quick time to value and be more productive.

With proactive intelligence, businesses can get ahead of potential issues and reduce both downtime and time to resolution so teams can focus on key priorities that maintain critical operations. This has a critical impact on businesses: one hour of IT downtime can often exceed one million to over five million dollars for mid-size and enterprise companies according to ITIC’s 2021 Hourly Cost of Downtime Survey. In addition, strategic investments in automation can help teams proactively identify and prevent problems while increasing security, reliability, and productivity. Rather than spending time firefighting, teams can focus on tasks that bring value to the business.

Automated Issue Avoidance

Between the move to the cloud, remote work, and the accelerated adoption of new technologies – IT complexity continues to grow with workforce attention already spread thin. Solutions that enable proactive intelligence services can help reduce pressure on IT teams by helping identify the problematic issues that cause downtime. Through AI/ML, more quickly through automated collection and analysis of product usage data. These capabilities provide a more effective mechanism for identifying potential problems, guiding how to remediate, and ultimately avoiding challenging service requests.

A large part of the support process today is dedicated to identifying the problem and determining its underlying cause. Without proactive support tools, companies are leaving value on the table. Expecting the unexpected in your IT environment means your business is solving problems that are broken – not just symptoms of problems – and avoiding issues before they occur.

Automate Common Workflows with APIs

APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) can be a powerful tool in automating common support workflows. APIs are a highly technical yet important aspect of a business’s underlying IT infrastructure – they are integral to bridging systems and enabling seamless transfer of information and connectivity. APIs enable different systems, applications, and platforms to connect and share data with one another and perform varied types of functions. Without APIs, enterprise tools and their benefits could become siloed – resulting in a reduced bottom line.

As organizations scale their environments, APIs are key to improving the developer experience as they facilitate collaboration and reusability. A better developer experience means better DevSecOps productivity which translates into immediate business value. Creating a software development culture that optimizes the developer experience allows teams to invest less time in internal processes and more time in creating something valuable for their customers. By automating common tasks and eliminating manual intervention, APIs can help organizations foster better developer productivity while significantly reducing costs.

Improved Productivity

The process of identifying a problem, determining its root cause, and troubleshooting can be time-consuming, and requiring the customer administrator to communicate and contextualize information for every support request logged further adds to this time. Proactive intelligence capabilities can help arm customers with holistic visibility into their environment fostering a faster, smarter, and easier way to maintain a healthy and productive environment. Intelligence tools like VMware Skyline can help to empower teams with the insights to solve issues on their own, and enable those organizations to move from reactive, fire-fighting mode to a proactive, predictive, and prescriptive posture.

When enterprises have tools that empower proactive responses and automate issue resolution, teams can increase productivity and dedicate more time to other business priorities. In addition, by improving overall security posture and environmental health, businesses can realize performance improvements to translate to greater operational efficiencies.

Succeeding in today’s business environment requires innovative approaches that lead to greater business operational agility. Break/Fix support is not enough anymore to monitor and support the extensive infrastructures enterprises have today that can span on-premises, remote sites, and the cloud.

Proactive intelligence and machine learning tools allow organizations to embrace an automated approach for troubleshooting, pinpointing root/cause analysis, guiding remediation and when needed an improved support experience that translates to more productivity for teams and better visibility into systems.

To learn more, visit us here.

Build Automation, IT Leadership

The consumer has spoken. Forrester Research asked 5,000 of them, “What created the biggest pain when you contacted a business for customer service?” They answered lack and consistency of agent knowledge, followed by the difficulty of finding relevant answers on company websites. So, what is driving this dissatisfaction?