How Can a Business Become a Digital Powerhouse?

By Samuel Greengard  |  Posted 2016-06-23 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Digital Business

Digital technology is rewriting business and IT rules. Success requires intrapreneurial thinking, rapid piloting, fast iteration and a different ecosystem.

The march toward digital technology is a long and meandering path. Business and IT leaders must cope with a mind-boggling array of business challenges and technology issues, and the landscape is changing rapidly and the intersection points are proliferating.

"We are still very early into the digital age," says Paul Daugherty, chief technology officer for Accenture. "Even organizations that have started to digitally transform have enormous challenges ahead. Digital transformation is moving forward at an exponential slope, and there is no a finish line."

To be sure, almost every organization now struggles with the task of becoming digital in one form or another. While about 22 percent of the world's gross domestic product (GDP) is now digital, the figure continues to rise, according to Accenture.

Along the way, business conditions are becoming more complex, and the future—filled with wearable tech, drones, robotics, Internet of things sensors and devices, 3D printing, augmented/virtual reality, artificial intelligence and deep learning—is becoming increasingly unclear. "In the past you could predict out five years," says Kim Smith, chief digital officer at Capgemini Consulting. "Now it's difficult to predict even a year into the future."

Digital business transformation is as much about business strategies and processes as it is about technology. Without the right organizational framework and a heavy dose of intrapreneurial thinking, it's next to impossible to embrace innovation and take performance to the next level.

Today, Smith says, it's critical to "fuel the disruption with dexterity." Without the ability to be highly flexible and agile, opportunities become overwhelming challenges. "It's a completely different way of thinking and approaching business," she adds.

Navigating to a Digital Business Model

A starting point for navigating to a digital business model is to understand that it's critical to build a framework that supports intrapreneurial thinking, rapid piloting and testing, occasional failures, fast iteration, as well as a radically different business ecosystem that incorporates smart partnerships and concepts such as open innovation.

"It's important to take a people-first and outside-in approach," Accenture's Daugherty advises. "It's all about the kind of experience you create for your customers and how you can make your employees more productive. The ability to innovate on a regular basis becomes a core differentiator in a digital environment."

That's certainly the motivation at Florida Hospital's Celebration Health. The 203-bed facility, part of the Adventist Health System, handles about 10,000 surgeries annually.

"Providing an excellent patient experience has become a priority … along with the ability to ensure that we are using resources in the most efficient way possible," says Ashley Simmons, director of innovation development.

Over the last few years, the facility has adopted an array of sophisticated systems built on digital technology to drive gains. It uses RFID and real-time location services (RTLS) to track the movements of patients, nurses, equipment and other assets. The data is used to optimize patient flow and speed the turnover of rooms. A dashboard in the waiting area also keeps family members and friends informed about patients on a real-time basis.

Another system tracks nurses and patients as they move around the hospital. Through the use of RFID-enabled badges, the facility is able to study their movements and work patterns to better understand how to schedule their time, where to locate equipment and supplies, and the best ways to address other issues.

By crunching historical and current data, and comparing it to metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs), the organization introduced real-time and historical dashboards that display current statistics about important issues such as recovery times and room turnover. The system operates on an IT infrastructure that Florida Hospital upgraded to include a Cisco WiFi network, along with more advanced storage and servers that tap custom software and a SQL database.

The results have been impressive. The hospital has achieved a 10- to 24-minute reduction in total time in recovery for operating room patients. What's more, total recovery times are far more predictable, with an average of 20 percent less variation, Simmons notes. This, in turn, has contributed to higher customer satisfaction levels and an ability to release patients sooner.

In addition, the real-time data and dashboards running in the Post-Anesthesia Care Units (PACU) have led to a reduction of 6 to 16 minutes in hold times. Similarly, the Real-Time Acute Care dashboard lets caregivers know when to expect patients from the PACU.

"This project has opened our eyes to a whole new level of data, information and knowledge," Simmons reports.



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Samuel Greengard writes about business and technology for Baseline, CIO Insight and other publications. His most recent book is The Internet of Things (MIT Press, 2015).
 
 
 
 
 
 

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