ENO CONJURES UP MORE MAGIC


We review the first night of the favourite Mozart’s “the Magic Flute” at the London Coliseum.

Ever since my days at University and falling in love with the Magic Flute even as a teenager – Mozart Opera has always held a special place in my heart. In the same way that “relationships” need constant adjustment and spark – so the magic of ENO is its re-interpretation, at every level, of the Operas that it performs.

This was my second viewing of this original production. But not for my two ladies who sat next to me. This was their first ever opera performance. They chose the right topic and evening.

This performance was sharp, very well constructed, the classic ENO minimalist approach of letting the performers take you by the hand on the journey, the mix and almost conversations of orchestra and protagonists, and particularly principal flautist Claire Wickes wandering into the stage in dialogue with Papegeno.

The sudden-ness of the orchestra kicking into life as we start with full lights on in the auditorium – to grab our attention, and the humour of the Chaplin-like screen writing, tells us everything we need to know. This is no classical Mozart. This is Mozart made modern.

You can only do this, of course, if you have the professional immaculate singing. ENO excels at the Chorus, the groups of singers. And yet this was the area that for me was the least convincing this time around. It took a while for the Three Ladies to get into gear – but this is to be picky. I loved Lucy Crowe as Pamina, and Rowan Pierce later on as Papagena is always funny and spot on – she gave a brief synopsis of the approach when she sang just a few months ago at the ENO Celebration Evening.

ENO is always very clever and relaxed when it does Mozart. This “Magic Flute” is up there in competition with its staging and performance of “Cosi Fan Tutte “ a couple of years ago.

It is a performance to enjoy as an old friend. But it is also for newcomers. One of the key aims of ENO is to widen the approach to a wider audience. My ladies sitting next to me, were not disappointed.

Patient Engagement makes the Difference

We publish the first of a series of HIMSS2019 key articles about healthcare technologies you need to know about!

There is no doubt that getting the patient him/herself engaged in their own process, creates better and faster outcomes.

Allen Technologies, probably the leader in interactive patient engagement solutions for 40 years, announced today that its E3 Patient Engagement Solution has been selected as a featured product in the Intelligent Health Pavilion at HIMSS2019 in Orlando in just a few weeks.interactive patient engagement solutions for 40 years, transforms the way hospitals engage, educate and empower patients. Allen helps hospitals impact patient outcomes, improve patient satisfaction and achieve operational efficiencies.

The Intelligent Health Pavilion has been one of the most visited destinations within the HIMSS2019 conference for the past nine years.  Visiting healthcare professionals will be able to experience first-hand innovative technologies, software, apps, and voice applications in real-time, contextual clinical settings. Rooms within the Pavilion are created to mimic the actual hospital setting, with individuals demonstrating the use of the latest technologies that have successfully deployed in hospital rooms. 

Allen’s E3 solution will be showcased in the labor/delivery/recovery demonstration room, on both television and tablet. In addition, Allen staff will be on hand for personal demos in the Pavilion’s Kiosk #10. The Intelligent Health Pavilion is located at Hall E, booth 8559.  

“We are thrilled to have our E3 Patient Engagement Solution showcased at this year’s Intelligent Health Pavilion,” said Mark Lancaster, CEO. “Leveraging technology like ours to deliver a better patient experience and support more efficient patient care is a game changer for today’s hospitals. The E3 Solution transforms a traditional patient room into an interactive smart room, without the need for additional hardware in the room, putting interactive patient engagement within reach for virtually any hospital.”

Financials are changing. Is 2019 the Year of Wake Up?

As more and more high street stores close, what does it take for us to realise that our entire financial landscape is changing?

The man sits opposite me in one of Edinburgh’s posh hotels. He is CDO of one of Scotland’s. main finance tech  companies,  and says; “You know, Richard – young people – our Millenials – won’t go to brokers any more, as you and I might have done. Their app on their phone will do their search and recommending for them – and it will be more intuitive and better informed, than any independent adviser that you care to meet”

I am in Geneva and my colleague leans across; he is CEO of one of Switzerland’s main Consulting houses – and  almost conspiratorially he says; “Our Generation Z have no material aspirations or rather, do not see value in actually acquiring the objects of desire that has driven consumer manufacturing for so long.  Aspirational values will be what their peers think of what they do or how they do it – rather than the expensive object that their parents could have chosen.”

These two statements are either damaging – or opportunistic. It depends on how you want to see them. One of the reasons for the decline in our retail environment, is that said retailers have not woken up to the fact that their market has changed.  People are still spending money. They just don’t spend it on the same things as before, or rather, they do – but in a different way. 

But it goes deeper than that. It is a change in how our future generations see life, where you do not have to own a car to be able to “enjoy” driving  a car; where simply being able to “be” at a cool place, wherever that might be – is more important than your ability to fly biz class or your upgraded loyalty points.

Current forecasts are that we will all be eating out more, but what that means is that we will order in our food, and eat at home rather than actually “go” to a restaurant. dinner will be prepared on some industrial estate and wizzed to us by a guy on a bike.  I can’t think of anything more horrifying, but here I am at family dinner when my son wants to eat Italian and my daughter wants to have vegan and I want Chinese. 

Maybe it is time to stop crying over the demise of the High Street – and start to welcome the changes that can revolutionise our high street experience.  Because the one thing that is staying the same, is social contact. People are once again appreciating that actually getting together, is far better than purely relying on our social media giants for proper communication.  So maybe life is now a compromise of all  things hybrid. Because,  after all – even if we eat different food – we have to eat it somewhere, and we will get our mortgage and buy our shares etc, from the nice lady hologram  on our mobile phone as we eat.

Lucia Di Lammermoor. A Story for Our Times


We review the English National Opera first night of this dramatic Donizetti masterpiece and say that – in the “MeToo” current world,  this is a production you have to see.

There are academic articles and opinions of the role of women and heroines and Prima Donnas in Opera, into which the creation of “Lucia” as an Opera, is designed to play a part.  This comment is not one of those. If you “get” that the fusion of music, and drama, is the key entry into deeper areas of  our soul – then the standout performance of Sarah Tynan as “Lucia” is one of the most phenomenal performances I have ever seen in all my years of watching opera.  This is a performance that you have to see, and you must say to your grandchildren that “you were there”.

How so?

Because Sarah’s interpretation rises above the protagonists around her, the wall of never decreasing orchestral and chorus support. It is a tour de force because right from the start, there was never any gentle introduction. There is angst even from the first scene. There was never going to be a happy ending.

This feeling of tragic helplessness, is enhanced by the oversized dimensions of the staging, with Lucia deliberately petite, vulnerable.

This “Lucia di Lamermoor” is drama supported by music. In many ways, the music never reaches the heights of melody of Mozart – or better insight into human nature of say Puccini, or Berlioz – and at times I just wished there was a melody that I could remember on the tube train back to my hotel. The music frequently pauses and moves into one aria after another, but it is not until the last Act does Lucia’s aria steal the show, so to say.

But this misses the point.

This production, particularly with Eleazar Rodriguez complementing Sarah with visible chemistry, is about drama and human emotion. It is riveting. At no point does the intensity ever stop, and at no time does audience appreciation ever waver. 

If you asked random people in the street, who would be their favourite composer – the name of Donizetti would hardly figure. And this is a pity. “Lucia” portrays humanity and the female situation, in a way that has hardly changed even now. I am going back to see this again – and so should you.

Can We Celebrate 70 Years of the NHS?


As increasing numbers of ordinary people move away from this cherished institution – we ask the question – why do they do so?

This is not about private medicine and public services. The UK NHS and its principle guardian of healthcare – free to all – at the point of delivery – is the cornerstone of just about every UK and European belief that healthcare is a public right – not something that you only get if you can afford it.

Fair enough.

The problem is when you put that into practice for the ordinary lives of people like you and I. The principle might be ok but – well, if other places are offering something better, and its within our price range, we are going to choose whatever that something else is.

And so they do.

At the recent Employee Benefit Fair in London just a couple of weeks ago, of the 115 Exhibitors, some 30% were all offering private walk in Doctors facilities.  And the services they were offering were better, than their NHS counterparts, particularly in areas that can be monitored remotely by smart technology on the wrist of all of us. As the provision of healthcare moves away from hospitals into a more community based environment, if for just a few bucks a  month, say you can have your diabetes monitored every day, in real time – or your heart and blood pressure similarly managed – does it matter that you never get to see a real Nurse?  All you want is the Nurse to call you when things look wrong – and for you to be able to drop by as you pass thru the local train station en route to work.

So why do so few NHS Hospitals and CCGs want to adopt similar practices?

The problem is twofold; if we can  solve a specific problem, with  technology, using half the nurses – then we can schedule the remaining nurses somewhere else where there is a greater need. Except that clinical grass roots staff have a fear of change and a fear of losing their job. And Managers have a fear of losing their nurses – and their silo based budgets.  As long as they have lots of people coming through those hospital doors – the money will keep rolling in.

And second – we regularly get emails and responses from NHS senior Managers saying;  “Sure, come by for a conversation, but not for a conversation that means we have to do something”. There is this misplaced belief among so many NHS Managers that as things have always been done this way – then life will continue to be done this way.

Not any more.  

We are seeing already that the public is voting with its feet. Sure, its a small beginning – but its a beginning none the less. As a senior more enlightened NHS Director told me – “we cannot keep trying to squeeze 100 appointments into the time reserved for only 40”.

There will become a time, sooner rather than later, when the public itself will start to wonder why they are paying any money for public healthcare at all. By then of course, it will be too late.

————————

IS DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION MISSING THE POINT?

We focus on the upcoming IP Expo Europe Conference at Excel London  and ask the question – are consumers being left behind? 

If so, this would be a pity. It is no coincidence that IP Expo Europe is just a few days before the Chinese IRC Retail Conference also in London, whose view is;  With the challenge of slowing retail sales, international expansion is key to maintaining double-digit growth.

The emergence of the Chinese eCommerce market, in a country whose GDP is constantly growing, is a clear opportunity to Re:Generate retail. Today’s QiXi day – the Chinese equivalent to Valentine’s day – is poised to generate record growth in international eCommerce sales. In other words, ECOMMERCE can drive retail.

The problem is, that’s not how ordinary people are viewing this. It’s not just Consumers, although there is  a dawn of realisation in the minds of the general public that the great benefit of online retail might also be killing the social high street that binds society together.  Maybe going shopping wasn’t so bad after all?  When one third of all the things that people buy online, are routinely returned to their sender – and there are more charity shops than thriving retailers – perhaps we are missing something in the way we describe and market “digital transformation”. Transformation might not necessarily be for the better.

The same feeling is also spreading into our public sectors; increasingly we are seeing new “digital transformation” labelled projects, that are little more than typing our patient records into someone’s Windows 7 desktop.  The NHS has “ringfenced” (oh please, don’t be naive) – money for “digital transformation” that will simply throw money at projects its hospitals were going to do anyway.  Digital Transformation is great PR.

At a time when emails no longer carry the same immediacy as they originally did – and it is now better to communicate sending something called a Letter in the mail – are we missing the point in thinking that everybody of course knows what blockchain is? Or are we blinded by selling technology to ourselves, when we are forgetting that what people want are the benefits of said technology? What that  technology is  – is irrelevant.

And that’s the point. IP Expo Europe  is not addressing consumers. It is a platform for the vendors of said technology, to show us the best ways of delivering business benefit.  We as “consumers” of technology should know how to translate that into something our own customers will understand. But to get there – we need the face to face, the casual conversation, the in depth presentation – with our peers – that will show us better ways to get where we ourselves need to go.

This may in turn reflect back into our struggling retail market, as long as it is a catalyst for methodology change, marketing people to get together. In short, the key to overall success, is a mix of the two -ECOMMERCE drives face to face retail.

We expect the greater awareness of vendors and delegates at IP Expo Europe will bear fruit in the change in the way vendors market what they do, and organisations handle their consumer data, in particular, becoming more open to international business – which will in turn drive the very retail sectors that are under pressure. 

If so, then Digital Transformation can start to create social good in the very areas that have been left behind. 

LIVING WITH GDPR; HAS LIFE MOVED ON?

We look at the upcoming Chief Data Officer conference in London and ask; are we getting bored by all this?

Yes, indeed we are. And that’s the problem. And it makes us immune to the real issues of handling our corporate data, because, frankly – if we ever see yet another request from a company we have never heard of, to “opt in and remain on their mailing list”, – when we never knew we were even ON their mailing list – then we would be forgiven for jumping out of the nearest window.

Depressions were never as bad as this!

The answer, is to take a balanced view. I absolutely “get” that there are still some serious issues as to how we handle our personal or restricted data and that these aspects have not been universally solved.

But let’s not miss the real opportunity – which is; there are new and better ways to handle our data. Wake up calls are great if we do what the name suggests, ie – we actually “wake up”!

Looking at the Agenda of governance, emerging technology, and conceptual avenues of strategy – the upcoming CDO conference promises to move us along, in the directions that we now need to be heading.

If the profile of delegates attending, is as expected – then this is a forum that our decision makers in business need to attend. Decisions are based on looking forward as much as the experience of looking back – but let’s not dwell just on those experiences.

The key thing about the CDO is as always the interim networking, the casual conversation, and our guess is that this will always be the same. But the blurb from the good people at IQPC is that things have moved on, and that this is the discussion platform that will take us there. Pillows and blankets will not be provided.

Our longer Report will follow shortly.