Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Will $2.5bn of Chinese Healthcare IT spend trickle through to innovation?

By most commentators' estimations, healthcare IT lags that of other sectors, in maturity terms, by a decade or more. This situation has been created by decades of underinvestment. More recent effort in England to inject £billions into healthcare IT procurement have simply reinforced the entrenched positions of the incumbent suppliers who wield monolithic architectures based on outmoded service models. In fact, most of the circumstantial evidence shows that the 'investment' in English healthcare IT has squeezed the very start-ups who were the new lifeblood.
The rearchitecting of IT is what the sector needs to enable the new models required to balance the rising expectations of consumers against the downward pressure on the public purse. More focus needs to be placed on interoperability of loosely coupled components and useability than on further bloating the feature sets of systems breeding their own information silos.
So, what difference will, by very conservative estimations, several billion USD from China make? Well, the early signs are promising with comments from IBM's Labs, who are one of the few major players who have made serious attempts to implement open standards at scale. However, there is still an overriding fear that the opportunity in China might be squandered if a procurement approach is taken which fails to ignite the marketplace. Those of us who want to buy our IT from a fertile, imaginative and interoperable marketplace have our fingers crossed.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Should we turn Corporate Hospitality on its head?

I'm sure many readers of this blog, like me, are in a "decision making*" position and therefore enjoy hospitality courtesy of suppliers and potential suppliers. Well, I'm wondering whether there is a role for customers rewarding suppliers with hospitality? Now before you say "Isn't payment incentive enough?", "Are you mad?" or, I day say "Shush, you're giving the game away!" please hear me out. Now, I work in information technology, and many IT companies, particularly the large systems integrators and outsourcers, feature corporate hospitality somewhere in their business development strategy. Perhaps it is more pervasive in IT than other supply chains (my observation looking round the tables of Twickenham, Silverstone and Cowes) because of the abstract nature of many of the goods/ services sold, the emotional attachment to large procurement and complexity of subject matter leading to a strong emphasis on brand trust? I digress...

However, my thought is that only in rare circumstances do the people who lead service delivery directly benefit from financial mechanisms between customers and suppliers designed to reward quality and high performance. Perhaps it would be effective to reward good service with some entertainment for individuals? You can imagine that across procurement budgets of £tens millions this could provide a great return in terms of achieving stretch from those responsible for delivery who are otherwise difficult to motivate from outside their line management.

Has anyone tried this approach? I'd be interested to know.

Maybe it's just too radical an idea. I fear being outed by the IT establishment as I type this... and my boss!

* I've long been amused when asked "are you the decision maker?". If only it were that simple.