….They Put Up a Parking Lot

We interview Shaz Ahmad, Nextgate’s VP of Cloud Operations to find out why people don’t miss something until it’s gone.

It is 02.00am Pacific Time and this is the preferred hour of the day for Shaz Ahmad, in his T shirt, to handle an interview. He is a self confessed night owl, but I would’ve thoughts there are limits. For me, it is 10.am GMT and there could be no worse time to make a constructive assessment of why Nextgate’s time has come. I have told my office to hold my calls.

But Shaz is as eloquent as I am even in mid morning, and he needs to be. Nextgate identity management technology is the secret sauce that make your hospital data work, seamlessly, that you do not realise you ever needed, until something goes wrong. It is the one line of code you never appreciated, but which makes your data work. As they say in the song, isn’t it the way it goes, you never realise what you’ve got – until its gone.

Except that with Nextgate – the thing that you don’t “get” – is the problem that you’ve got. As we move more and more into a connected and multiple data source environment, where patients not techies are driving that source of data, so (to paraphrase). Hospitals increasingly cannot map or match the data that they have. In short, the HL7 data is neither clean from one source or another, nor do existing systems talk to each other. And whilst this is technical issue, the problem is commercial. Putting it right takes man hours and costs money.

Except that it doesn’t. And it comes through the decision of starting again, and putting your data on a cloud. What that means is, a cloud-based solution that does identity management, allows hospitals and organisations to rapidly and accurately deliver a patient record at the point of care – with the flexibility and scalability you need in today’s evolving and digital environment.

Shaz does not talk about technology. He talks about Service Level Agreements. He talks about peace of mind. The idea that you as a Hospital (say). can access all of your data, 24/7, safely on a cloud, without the need for local expert support. Amongst all of the solutions that a hospital might have, Nextgate is the single line that makes not just a difference – it is THE difference.

It is the reason why Shaz left his  job at Orion, where he was a user of Nexgate technology, to take up an offer with the company that created the stuff.

Nextgate competes with the big IBM and Corporate Players in data integration. But it is addressing a real market need. The Obama driven “spine” of data accessibility mirrors the attempts in the UK to formalise data accessibility. Nextgate has reference sites and projects that are pan-Atlantic.

Yet it is a hard sell – what Nextgate are saying is; don’t wait until you have an issue before talking to us about our Cloud benefits.   As they say in the song, –  don’t lose sight of Paradise.


We look at the increasing lack of leadership in our UK Public Services, and its negative impact – and we say; its time to do something.

The question really is; “why”, – is it necessary to do something? Public Services are not going to disappear overnight. Whether you take a week to do nothing at all – or a year – will not necessarily impact on your own job. It might, however, impact on someone else’s life – but as a Clinical Director told me recently – “I have a nice house, and nice holidays; why am I putting myself on the line?”

Lack of decision-making means that the people who we entrust to look after us, provide our essential services, and who we had hoped would go the extra mile – have no need to do so. This results either in a lack of engagement, where – according to a colleague of mine recently moved from the private sector into local government – that her colleagues already had their coats on by 16.58 each day… or an increasing level of stress related absence through the paralysis of moving things forward, in times of increasing pressure and demand for the very services they feel unable to deliver.

It’s not our job here to tell others how to do their job. But it is our job to explain the damage that simply putting things off, keeping things the same, and hoping that maybe tomorrow things will work out – doesn’t fly. Particularly as we are moving, and have moved – into an arena of “personalised service”, where our individual use of personal data, our smartphones, our iPads, our fitness trackers – means that technology exists to deliver great improvements in quality of pubic service.

As Bogi Eliasen of the CIFS in Copenhagen said at the HIMSS Conference almost one year ago – by harnessing the data that is flowing, in realtime, across our desks every minute – we can better employ our people, enable them to make decisions related to the data that they themselves have access to, reduce the stress in our places of work – and actually do what the public are asking us, and expect us – to do.

Because – the fact is – we no longer have the option of simply throwing more people, and more cash, to continue doing things the way we always have – because it just doesn’t work any longer. There are just too many people living longer, with too many orthopaedic ailments, exponential rises in diabetes sufferers, that having a few more nurses, a few more clinics, some more phone-lines – can never hope to keep pace with the needs of society that are getting worse.

It is for this reason that the recent PR from NHS England, about its new Diabetes Partnerships, – is like adding an Elastoplast to cover my broken leg. It misses the fundamental point. Hospitals that prefer to use in house resources rather than engage with specialist IT help, are simply putting off the moment of truth – that we have reached a tipping point.

What we have seen is that, due to the new personal focus of our provision of services, we need to move out of the “silo” mentality of me doing my job, and you can do yours. We need to start looking at how we treat society as a whole, in particular the mix of Community based solutions linked to (say) hospital services.

In the same way that “if you always do what you always did – you will always get, what you always got~’ so it is obvious that our current ways of doing things, at just about every area of Management that we have looked at for this Article – simply do not deliver the results that society is increasingly asking for.

This means investment in new technologies, that are proven, and that can link performance to results and to costs. The technology exists and has done for some time. The question tho – is whether our Social and Public Service leaders can take the lead and deliver what the rest of us are asking. After all – they have nice houses and nice holidays to go to. We wouldn’t want them to risk all that, now would we?

Conferences – do we need them?

We look at the need to get together and ask – does it work?

Conferences are big business. A casual search for any vertical mix of “meeting point”, be it by topic or geography, could keep you and I continually doing the rounds of expensive hotels and free lunches everyday except weekends, until midway thru 2019 – and we haven’t even got through January some twelve months earlier.

Either the common understanding is that; conferences work. Or we are simply creatures of habit, we go because we always did.

Except that, for many – conferences, and the mini exhibitions that accompany these – deliver very little. Particularly for vendors, who splash out large sums but frequently tell us its a lot of cost for what ultimately does not deliver. And similarly for delegates – why is it that Speakers who should know by now how to communicate their corporate benefits, are so frequently unprepared, whose presentations are just so dull? Is it – to put it another way, there are simply better ways of achieving your goal – be it sales prospecting, market info, meeting your peers – than by jumping on the cattle run.

Then again – judging by the highly competent lists of theoretically highly competent decision-makers that always herald every getting-together – these guys would not do it, if it didn’t work. The answer, is to pick and choose the meetings where a/ you want to be visible; and b/ where the delegates that surround you are actually worth meeting.

And sure, there are the classic industry standard get-togethers, that are like the perennial flowers in my front garden. its the same people, the same format, the same booths, the same visibility. If you are not there, then people “assume” you are not anywhere. I am not talking about these. You can put healthcare, and hospitality into those boxes. There are many more.

The trick is to identify conferences that are addressing an actual market need. Nowhere is this more obvious and important, than in the technology arena. And these conferences too are changing. If 2016/2017 were the years of Big Data, and then GDPR – we are now seeing the more discussion based formulae. These are the meetings that you need to go to, because they deliver original thinking.

It has long been recognised that the real hidden benefit of this level of conference – is the casual networking, the informal discussion. Best among the upcoming conferences is the Future of Finance 2018 Discussion, on Feb 19th in London. Organised by IQPC, this promises to be an innovative forum based event, that brings together the people that can shape the industry, and where you can play a part. Worth registering.




Is it already too late for GDPR?

We look at how industries are preparing, and ask – have businesses already moved on?

For the past two years, whole industries ranging from Conference Organisers, to newly articulate Vendors – have sprung up professing abilities and proficiencies to help us manage the data compliance of GDPR – coming live in just a few months.

And their message may have been getting through. In Scandinavia, you cannot find any free Consultants able to take on any new projects. In our calls to UK vendors, few even answered our calls.  If past history is anything to go by, companies typically leave things to the last minute – so maybe there will be this rush to the final hurdle when the deadline May comes around.

Or maybe there won’t. According to Richard Copland, Partner at The Future Shapers – those companies that were going to do something – have already done so. The concern over GDPR among the large corporates where this can matter – has already been dealt with and life is moivinbg on to more important areas of data handling.

This mirrors our own experience. In interviews we have had in the Financials and Insurance areas, the need is not for data compliance.  The concern is how to identify key bits of customers information that can  make a commercial difference. In other words, technology  and IT is not the problem any more;  we are getting back to basics of – what drives our businesses and above all, what will give these companies a commercial edge.

Interestingly,  Trade Conferences per se are no longer seen as the giver of new comparative information, because it is rare to find vendors who genuinely have anything new to say.  Whilst there are exceptions to this,  their importance is in the casual networking of vendor to delegate and delegate to delegate.

Where this takes us in the future – is that 2018 will be the catalyst for specific vendors who genuinely have a new vision and a new take on their market. Linking technology to commercial benefit, will be the difference.

`Cebit 2018 and the Public Sector

If you work in the public sector, in particular local and regional government – here is why you need a quick day in Hannover this Spring.

We republish here the announcement just a few days ago, from Cebit Press Office – detailing their focus on German public authorities, and the need for Digital platforms.


Cebit is exhausting at best of times, but focussing on public need, is great if you are a vendor of Data Analysis and GDPR solutions;  and very helpful if you work in the public sector and wish to engage with like minds.


New Human Relationships in Customer Contact

We look at the upcoming  CCW Conference in Glasgow in March, and ask – has this Conference really changed things  This is what they say about themselves:

”Delivering world class services has never been more critical as today’s businesses continue to be disrupted with new technologies and competition. Multi channel is the new norm, contact centres face more complex queries, operating models urgently need to be reorganized and super agents need to be created!

Partnering with business to deliver insights and world class service is a major step for customer contact to become more strategic in customer centric transformation. In the age of digital, providing that human touch to both your customers and employees will be the winning recipe. We invite you to join us at Customer Contact Week 2018 where key strategies are shared and the future is shaped.

CCW Europe will see 60+ executive speakers, 25 industry and challenge focused IDGs, 9 plenary sessions and dedicated streams and discussions tackling how to deliver world class service through intelligent customer contact without losing the human touch. You cannot afford to miss out! “

There is no doubt that a more human response in the automated call centres that have populated our life, will deliver.

But the question is – has the market already moved on?  Most people – particularly in the areas of financial services, banking, utilities, would much prefer their vendors and suppliers to go the whole hog, bring back the human face, bring back the local branch. At a time when there is a growing focus on the “Community” – so there is now a need, and a market, for the back to basics of human engagement, – rather than the image of human engagement. It is still faster to buy a train ticket by rolling up at a local train station than trying to buy said ticket on line, and you get the happy start of someone actually face to face being nice to you. Pay it Forward actually works.

Plus, there are added side benefits of this back to normality approach, the obvious one is in retail, the avoidance of plastic packaging and delivery services is becoming a major factor in saving the planet both from the ocean and emissions points of view.

And then again – maybe the answer is a mix, and it comes down to service. A key speaker at the above Conference is from the MOO Organisation – where we ourselves have now migrated to buying all of our cards and print (in stead of our local print shop down the road).

Will we be going?  Yes of course.  But let’s get serious;  online customer contact will never be as good for most situations, as the real thing. And Glasgow is a great place to go visit.

It’s Time to Think About Christmas…

We look at those Christmas Parties that actually make sense…

Actually – frankly speaking – there aren’t many. I would like to say that Christmas for all and everyone is a spirit of goodwill to all men, a time of renewal and friendship. And I would be wrong. For most companies, the annual “Christmas Party” is the minefield of alcohol bad taste, political scheming that rivals Machiavelli in his prime, and moments of deep despair that hit those who awake the next morning, and wonder – “did I really say that to Sophie in Accounts”?

No wonder that so many Trade Associations in Paris prefer to have their annual “Soirée”, in the middle of June. At least when you wake up the next day, you can disappear on vacation down to Chatelaillon. Hopefully it will all be forgotten by the time you get back for the Rentree.

And then there is COSSIOM – whose annual “Get-together” is the model of what business events should be, and where aspiration of actually enjoying oneself – is merged with business networking, for people who know about business networking.

How so?

Because COSSIOM understands that the driver of its flagship event – is business, not hospitality. That people in the Data world that it brings together, – as much as one always likes a glass of champagne – rarely have time to enjoy said glass of champagne. Life is already too stressed. COSSIOM is a soirée for people that value the individual minutes of their day enough to know that the chance discussion, the accidental meeting, that the COSSIOM event delivers, are as valuable as the specific meeting of old and goods friends and clients that have been fostered over the past year.
For that reason, COSSIOM every November has no need to market itself itself as a “business event”. Their website and invitation just says; “Hey guys, just come along!” The people who do “come along”, already know the rules of the game.

Which means that COSSIOM can reach out from the large corporate environment that is its core – to use its Soirée to benefit charity. It is a time of practical giving-back, as well as a random evening of receiving.
As I mentioned somewhere earlier – this is about Goodwill to All Men. What’s there not to love?

Happy Christmas!