Healthcare: What is your vision for IT/communications?

InformationWeek recently interviewed Chad Eckes, CIO from Cancer Treatment Centers of America, for its July 6, 2009 issue.  One of his answers stood out and is very relevant to NEC’s healthcare practice.

Q: How do you measure IT effectiveness?
A: Factors include improvement of patient care and safety as a result of IT systems: increased efficiency of clinical processes; and internal customers satisfaction, including the patient and those caring for the patient.

NEC has argued that the biggest investment in your healthcare facility is not technology – it’s people. Specific to communications, we believe that instead of technology defining how people communicate in their role (doctor, nurse, ER, OR, admin, etc), that the role should define the technology used to communicate. With this approach, communications are tailored to each individual’s role, which ensures quick access to healthcare resources and records (the IT part of the equation) so patients get the best care possible.

NEC will be hosting a webinar on August 12 with Irwin Lazar, analyst at Nemertes Research, to talk more about the impact of VoIP and UC for healthcare organizations.  Al Campanella, CIO of Virtua Healthcare, will also be on the webinar to share the vision and mission of a leading healthcare organization.  Click here to register!

Augmented Reality…CEBP in the enterprise?

A colleague sent me a link for a new application called Augmented Reality that was featured on CNET. Summary: A VERY COOL application, available now in the Netherlands for Android OS and in a few other locations with the Apple 3Gs, will mashup GPS information with things like hot spots, real estate, restaurants and more to display on your mobile phone as you view things through the camera on the phone.

Augmented Reality

My first thought was “how and when will this come into the enterprise?” There are many examples of applications that were popularized by consumers then brought into the corporate arena (IM, video, email). Then a thought struck me. “This is what we call CEBP or communication enabled business process!”

Think about it…taking a business application (restaurant location and info, real estate listings, train schedules) and combining that with a communication application (video, click to call, etc) all in real-time (what we in the enterprise call presence).

We may have started out simple with IVR applications that can access data (ex: call your bank and get your updated balance in real-time) but it has now progressed to the point where we can integrate 2-way communications with business processes to get things done faster and even save a few dollars.  NEC and other vendors are moving forward in this area. More to come…

My carbon footprint is smaller than yours…

Every wonder how your “greenness” compares with your friends or coworkers?  Neither have I, but I’m interested.

NEC is testing an online carbon footprint tracking system where you can go head to head with other people in a massive tree hugger contest.  It tracks your usage through a wireless device connected to your circuit breaker and transmits back to your PC and up to the online game.


Of course there is no word on if the game tracks the power used by the wireless device and your PC.

Happy customers?

The June 15, 2009 issue of CIO magazine (page 15 or online) featured an article on “Bagging Customer Loyalty.”  Quick summary: A supermarket chain is changing their customer loyalty program from collecting data that they can then analyze for customer buying habits to collecting data that customers can then use to make better purchases.  As the CIO of the supermarket stated, “If it exists today, we aren’t thinking big enough.”

What we hear is that businesses want more than just the normal, commodity technology.  They want solutions that are customized and can fit their business to 1)increase customer loyalty 2)increase revenues and 3)decreases expenses (Gartner’s “Meeting the Challenge: The 2009 CIO Agenda” supports these priorities).

NEC has always worked with customers to deliver solutions that can be easily implemented for simple business problems, but also has a services and applications development group that works with customers to design and deliver applications that provide a deeper impact on the business.

For example, NEC recently worked with the City of Philadelphia to create a customized IVR application that helped to reduce call center costs while improving customer service.  Other examples can be found on NEC’s website.

More choices: Good or Too Much

A recent article in InformationWeek (June 8, 2009 issue, page 30) highlighted what Coca-Cola is doing with RFID-based soda dispensers to give customers more choices.  To summarize, Coca-Cola has created a new Freestyle drink dispensers which will give customers up to 30 cartridges of flavors to add to their drink.  Now they can have a Peach Sprite or Grape Coke.  They will also be adding RFID chips to the dispensers which will then send back data to their HQ.  They are hoping this will help in both managing the amount of drink purchased by restaurants and businesses as well as increase interest in new flavors of soda from Coca-Cola.

So what does this have to do with communication you ask? When I read the article I immediately asked, “Will consumers ever get to the point where there are too many choices?”  Even today, we have so many communication choices – phone (desk, mobile, softphone), text (SMS/IM), email, video (desktop, room, telepresence) and more.  With all these choices, most people tend to go back to a preferred method of communication after they have tried several others.  Just like we have a favorite beverage we drink, even with the multiple choices out there.

As people choose their preferred communication method, the goal is to then make is easy and simple to communicate.  At the heart of NEC’s UNIVERGE360 model is giving people the choice of device (deskphone, mobile, etc) with a preferred communication method (IM, video, email) over any transport layer (IP, wireless, WAN).