Using “second hand” medicines

I read today that in Greece, people were being allowed to donate leftover medicines to people less able to afford them (credit:bbc)

Of course mpro5 has allowed the tracking of medicines for some time, particularly through its service for the NCC (National Coagulation Centre) in Ireland to track coagulant to aid folks with haemophilia.

We could use blockchain technology to ensure that such medicines which were in excess of requirements to be passed on, secure in the knowledge that we knew where the original product originated.

When my mother passed, she had many unused asthma “pumps”, all of which were perfectly capable of being sent to those in less fortunate circumstances. regrettably they were disposed of . My sister in law told me that they would cost in excess of $100 each in the US…where of course the cost in the UK had been borne by the NHS.

Why not embrace scanning and blockchain technology to move perfectly good medical products and medicines through the chain and on to the next patient ? Transportation costs are a competitive market – surely we can find a way of handling the logistics of such an exercise?



Mobile enterprise apps – a capital problem?

According to research conducted by VDC Research (a leading independent enterprise mobility research authority), the top two technologies which are expected to have the greatest impact in driving business transformation over the next three years remain cloud computing and mobile solutions.  

enterprise mobility snip

Yet, the report also states that on average, ‘organisations require more than six months to develop and deploy a single mobile application, and 48% spend more than $100K on each mobile application they develop.’

I was somewhat staggered by this statistic – although one famous CRM system had a reputation for being “two years and two million”!

When you hear a statement like that, it’s no wonder organisations would rather ‘sit still’ and stick with what they know, rather than invest in new technologies and innovation.

It’s for this very reason that technology investments, such as the development of mobile applications, are often associated with large-scale, costly projects that involve much time, resources and upheaval; often with no guarantee of the desired outcome.

The answer, in my view, is that organisations need to invest in IT as an ongoing service, opposed to a one-off software “solution” (a word I hate).

By ‘service’, I mean a full service. One where the technology provider’s team essentially becomes an extension of your own. One where they work with you every step of the way to ensure that the software or perhaps more importantly, software platform, helps you with your own, unique business needs. Why waste internal resources ? Why not let the experts help?

SAP, Sage, Office 365, SalesForce, Dynamics 365 are all available as SaaS (Software as a Service) applications that many of us use on a daily basis at work. We pay a monthly fee to use their software. Yet, if I have a problem with one of these programs, or want it changed slightly so that it better fits the needs of my business, I’m pretty stuck. Large providers are not going to adapt and change their software specifically for my business. My business has to fit around their software, rather than the other way round.

Mobile enterprise applications,  where a full-service element is offered as part of the subscription license is a fairly unique offering. They include website, mobile app, reports and alerts – if you need  changes or adjustments made to tailor the system, it can done for you, at no extra cost, and in a timely manner.

The benefits?

Control – You have  control over the tap marked ‘cost’.

No large upfront capital investment – a mobile application for your business need not cost hundreds of thousands of $/£! Enterprise applications available on a subscription basis mean that you only pay a fraction of that amount each month – allowing you to measure benefits and return on investment almost immediately.

Available to use in a days/weeks, not months/years – subscription-based mobile applications mean that you can have an enterprise-level application up-and-running within your business in a matter of days/weeks rather than a custom-built solution that takes months or even years to develop.

A service that grows with your business – Businesses are constantly changing and evolving and so do technology needs. As a result, custom-built apps and fixed SaaS models can become restrictive and less valuable for your business over time, unless you continue the process of updating the platform and adding new features – which costs more money and time. A major benefit of subscription-based mobile applications with a full service component is that they can be tweaked and refined, as part of the monthly subscription fee, to match the changes within your business.

No need to continually maintain and update the app – Updating and testing a custom app on new versions of operating systems and devices is incredibly time consuming and resource intensive. It’s essential that you have a rigorous testing process in place to mitigate against all potential bugs and faults that can occur from app upgrades and fixes. A massive benefit of opting for an existing mobile enterprise platform is the fact that this entire process is taken care of. Updates and bug fixes are all done for you – you simply upgrade to the latest release via your app store, be that iOS, Android or Windows.

In summary, big capital IT projects are old hat – custom or subscription-based apps for mobile applications are fine (i.e. SaaS models), for a while, but an ongoing enterprise mobile platform service will stay with your business as it changes and grows. Why commit to one app, when you can engage with a service provider which grows its platform and provides you with an essential business support function. ? 

Internet of Things: walk before you can run

I came across this article posted on Forbes yesterday about the Internet of Things (IoT) and its crucial link with enterprise mobility.

It struck a chord with me because it states that before businesses can really harness the true power of IoT, they need the right foundations in place. The ‘right foundations’ being a powerful enterprise mobility platform, which is something that I truly agree with.

For those of you not familiar with the term ‘enterprise mobility’ – it’s the ability for employees to be able to interact with enterprise applications and the information stored within them, on any mobile device, at any location, at any time. By doing so, it ensures that employees are completely connected to the business while working outside of the office and can collect job data and report this back in real time. Online or Offline, on any modern mobile device , from smartphone to tablet to laptop. From Apple to Android to Windows.

This is crucial for remote workers who are not bound by a desk or an office.

I was surprised by the statistic that ‘80% of companies could not access their maintenance management software from a mobile device,’ since maintenance staff present one of the strongest use cases for enterprise mobility and IoT, especially within facilities management.

If employees don’t have access to their key software via mobile devices, how do companies expect IoT to improve their efficiency and service levels? It seems as though we are all caught up in IoT as a buzzword, with very few organisations actually having the infrastructure in place to harness its power.

An organisation with siloed workers and siloed applications is in no fit shape to implement an IoT strategy. If its workers aren’t connected in the first place, how will a device be able to communicate with them to carry out an action?

Imagine a warehouse containing industrial freezers. IoT sensors have been placed in each freezer to monitor temperature levels. If the temperature rises above a critical level, an alert is fired off. However if there is no mobile strategy in place, where does that alert go? What instructions are provided with that alert? If an engineer arrives, how will they quickly access the maintenance history of that freezer? If a new part is needed to fix the freezer, how will they request or order that part? How will they ensure that the job is invoiced? And so on…

They put it perfectly when they say, “The largest barrier to digital transformation may have nothing to do with connected things but connected people.”

It’s therefore essential that organisations learn how to walk before they can run and in the case of IoT, that means getting the right framework in place so that they can harness the full transformational power that this technology has to offer.

Turkeys voting for Christmas?

I read that Tom Tom have surveyed a number of firms that are “under using” their investments in technology. I find this unsurprising, as users and managers often see tech as disruptive, awkward and “not as good as the old way”

Why not embrace technology ? Spend time training yourself (YouTube anyone?) rather than waiting for a course. Invest your own time in becoming more tech savvy and then help your colleagues. I have more apps on my phone than anyone in our business, just because I like to look for new tech – and find better ways of doing things. Hotels,com, OpenTable, Outlook and Spotify are just a part of my day now.

So, why the reference to Turkeys? Well, if you see tech as replacing your role, why not find another role, or make an investment in you AND tech – or, of course, form an escape committee…

The Smiling Eskimo

In this article published last week, it was reported that Alaska Airlines is making significant cost savings and productivity gains through its mobile transformation programme.

By ‘mobile transformation programme’, Derek Chan (Manager of Alaska Airlines Mobile and User Experience) refers to the 12,000+ smart devices and 50+ business applications it has rolled out to employees across various departments within the organisation.

Chan mentions how, “with the swipe of a finger or tap of an app, each step is being signed off in real-time, as soon as it’s complete. The customer service agent no longer needs to walk down the jet way to the flight attendant with paperwork, after waiting for the information to be printed from a machine in a different location.”

When quizzed about the return on investment from the mobile transformation, Chan said that it all comes down to time. “Time savings lead to money; if we save one minute, it leads to ‘x’ amount of dollars – that’s where we see our return on investment.”

This statement really resonated with me.

Particularly since we heard on Wednesday that productivity growth in the UK has been revised down by an average of 0.7% a year up to 2023.

We can debate all we like about the possible reasons behind the UK’s low productivity rate, but essentially it comes down to a whole host of factors – with low adoption of technology and innovation being a major contributory factor.

As highlighted in CBI’s recent report, “it’s the low take-up of readily available technologies and management best practices that is driving the UK’s productivity problem. In 2015, the proportion of UK firms adopting cloud computing was nearly 30 percentage points below Europe’s best performers.”

In the past, businesses shied away from the adoption of new technology as it often involved large-scale projects, costing vast sums and taking years to complete. Often with no guarantee of the desired outcome.

However with the huge rise of hosted, software as a service models (SaaS) – businesses have the advantage of being able to ‘dip their toe in the water’ and try out new technologies at a fraction of the time and cost of their predecessors. Also without needing any of the required infrastructure or hosting.

Furthermore, SaaS models have the additional advantage that they can be simply turned off if they don’t function correctly or be easily tweaked and modified to fit the requirements of the organisation.

Alaska Air is one business where one can see the increase in productivity and revenue through a progressive attitude to tech. In this case mobility in completing paperwork. The Eskimo on their tail fins must be smiling….




Magpies & Ostriches – which are you ?

The CBI have printed a report here which highlights a problem that we see all the time. failure to adopt, failure to move, paralysis in fear of the unknown.  Some organisations seem to think that a bad “known” is better than a complete “unknown” . What about the “unknown unknowns” (per Donald Rumsfeld) ?

Of course with technology now available as a service the old adages of “2 years and $2 million” on software projects do not apply (if organisations have any sense) – so organisations can now simply turn off the tap marked “Cost” if apps or tech do not function correctly .

I have always found huge parts of industry to be like an Ostrich – and a pretty frightened Ostrich at that . Tech solutions and apps can revolutionize the way we do things, we see that from Tesco deliveries to mobile banking to flight tickets. Of course the Ostrich is a flightless bird…..