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Planning your Move to the Cloud?

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For most IT departments supporting the business with new functionality
means planning a move to the ‘cloud.’ With most ofmoving to the cloud the Enterprise software vendors are now offering their solutions via the cloud. In this blog post, I will present some the most commons myths against the use of ‘cloud computing’ and offer a common Testing application to help you and your organization get experience with ‘cloud computing.’

 

What is holding you back from moving to the cloud…?

Today as you read this blog post you most likely have your personal data in the cloud. Costs for storage have been dropping, and recently my Dropbox account went from 100GB to 1TB for the same monthly fee! So what is holding organizations back from moving to the ‘cloud?’

  • Compliance – Life Sciences companies have the need to perform computer system validation (CSV). Very often the push back is around how to define the systems and processes.
    • Drawing a line around the components and defining the connections between the applications helps to focus on what needs to be validated. Once you define this as part of your process – the validation and documentation that you used with your legacy systems remain the same. Just because you have a part or all of your process in the cloud should not hold you back from performing CSV on your process.
  • Data security – there is still a ‘fear’ that going to the cloud means a less secure IT environment.
    • Overcoming this fear is to look at how you currently access your data. I work closely with Amazon Web Services (AWS). Where the concept of a ‘private cloud’ is certainly an option in protecting access to your data. In short, this is a direct connection between your IT landscape and the cloud servers.
    • Another way of overcoming this fear is via industry examples, and thanks to Andy Waroma and the folks at Cloud Comrade here is a link to an article “Amazon Web Services becomes first cloud provider to handle sensitive US defense data” So if the US Defense industry can use cloud services it most certainly can be leveraged for your application data.
  • Cost – what are the savings from moving to the cloud?
    • We have been accustomed to a cycle of Capital requests for software and hardware on an annual basis, and support costs is an on-going expense.
    • In working with my clients comparing the overall costs – moving to the cloud can bring down the overall support costs by 2X!
    • The added benefit from a move to the cloud is the flexibility it can bring to your current IT landscape. This is where you need to get some experience with cloud computing to gain further insight in this area. We will discuss this next.

 cloud-computing

Typical IT Landscape

For purposes of this discussion we will focus on an SAP landscape. The situation is where you want to add additional users to an existing landscape of ERP, Business Warehouse (BW) and NetWeaver. What you would do is to test the performance of your applications with the increased user count.

For my client we provide Testing services and invariably we have to request additional hardware to ‘simulate’ this environment. The solution is to provide….

 

Performance Testing in the Cloud

Consider the use of cloud computing services for “Performance Testing” to achieve the following experience:

  1. Requires a discussion on connecting your IT landscape to Amazon Web Services or similar provider. This will ensure and test the security around your data. Direct Connection versus Virtual Private Network (VPN)
  2. Server sizing and set-up that is similar to your landscape. Please note: the hardware will not be exactly what you currently have in your landscape.
  3. Have your IT department provide Basis support for performing client copies and any software application changes you need to simulate in the cloud. If you don’t have the resources available you can ask your systems integrator to provide this service for you.
  4. Costs – include a one-time setup – an operating cost and cost for when you don’t run you’re ‘performance testing.’ Your costs will vary based on your needs.

data-server-cloud

In summary, moving to the cloud should be part of your annual IT project planning. You can work through your Compliance and Data Security needs. The goal should be a move to shift your overall support cost from maintaining your hardware to an operating cost that will allow for expansion of your IT landscape to meet the increasing needs of the business.

In discussing this with clients that have the ‘traditional’ server centers there is a hesitance to move to the cloud. I would recommend you look to do your ‘performance testing’ in the cloud to give you and your IT team the experience in working with cloud computing services. The benefits can be realized very quickly.

I am open to your feedback, so tell me what you think?

Thanks,

Jim

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Are you Effectively using Big Data?

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Since the market introduced this term we’ve tried to make a distinction between data and ‘more’ Using Big-Data
data. In my opinion all data is ‘big data.’ That the challenge for IT departments is how to ‘quickly’ turn these new sources of data into ‘value’ for the business. In this blog post I’ll explain where we are with big data – illustrate the issues and propose a solution.

Backdrop

Within Life Sciences (pharmaceuticals and medical devices) ‘big data’ has been in place for quite some time. Most companies have had to address the challenges of managing data for instance:

  • Financial data – this would include your typical data for operating your company. There are additional complexities from a sales and rebate perspective along with cross border/country tax issues for products.
  • Supply Chain data – includes your typical sales and operations data plus the traceability of packaged pharmaceuticals or individual devices.
  • Clinical trials data – generating data that needs to be translated into information for product approval as well as storing data for adverse events analysis.

Government regulations influence how companies manage data. Most firms are required to maintain patient data for the life of the user. Managing data is also part of any legal defense in the event of product failures in the field, and the random audit from the FDA and other regulatory bodies.

 

Influences

If Life Sciences companies maintain their data we are dealing with large repositories of data. What are influencing IT departments are the changes in today’s markets, for instance:

  • Mergers and Acquisitions – most companies are prepared for this both from a due diligence prior to the acquisition. In most cases there is a common set of financial and supply chain information that is shared until an IT decision is made to absorb, or let stand, the IT landscape of the acquired company. There are a few firms that still operate in a mixed IT environment. So this can be a challenge without the right strategy for reporting and analytics.
  • Mobile devices – we’ve already been made aware of the growing use of smartphones and tablets. Besides the security aspects of these devices. Data needs to be made available at various levels of the organization. This is a topic that most IT departments are struggling with, and an area that requires a strategy with feedback from your users.
  • Digital Marketing or Business Insights – we should be aware that ‘social media’ is having a huge impact on Marketing. The advent of these new tools and data sources (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.) poses several data questions:
    • How do we analyze and treat these new sources of customer/patient feedback?
    • With more and more doctors using tablets how do we get our product messages to them, and can we measure the impact on our market share?
    • How do I plan for this additional explosion of data because we still have the existing ‘structured’ data, and now we are adding new sources of ‘unstructured’ data?
    • Marketing and Business folks are asking for this information for further analysis? IT has to decide on the tools and methods to perform this analysis.

structured and unstructured data

So are you effectively using ‘bigdata,’ and if not what plans do you have to support the business and your company’s growth targets?

Your Strategy

Reporting Strategy and Elastic Analytics

If you are in this situation there is a need to prepare your ‘reporting strategy.’ Typically this is a 6 to 8 week exercise to identify the business needs and match this against your current IT landscape and solutions. I often recommend this exercise because if you have this strategy in place you can leverage this output for funding needs, new tools, etc., as well as a discussion with the business. Focus on immediate pain points and demonstrate ‘quick wins’ will go a long way to ensuring that IT is still a strategic influence within your organizations.

Yet even if you have you’re strategy in place you may need to move faster to help the business. At Capgemini we have introduced a solution called ‘elastic analytics.’ The link below is a video which provides a high level summary for this offering.

 Capgemini Elastic Analytics video

Elastic Analytics helps IT with the following:

  1.  If the deployment of your reporting strategy is a lengthy process then elastic analytics can provide you with ‘quick wins’ that demonstrate the ‘art of the possible’ when it comes to reporting and analytics. All you need to do is provide the data and we will process this into information served up in a variety of outputs (from a dashboard to a screen on a Smartphone or tablet).
  2. Let’s say you want to ‘test’ out different analytics tools using your data. Using elastic analytics there is no need for you to invest in and take time out for product demos. This landscape includes most of the leading products on the market. This allows you the freedom to test your data on multiple products.
  3. Maybe there is no in-house expertise when it comes to the science of converting data into meaningful information. Within this offering we have up 250 data scientists that can help you correlate your data into relevant business information.

In summary, if all data is big date then are you using this ‘effectively?’  There are various reasons for companies to look into changing their approach to reporting and analytics. What I’ve explained is available today, and I hope this helps you decide how best to approach your problem.

I am open to your feedback or suggestions, so tell me what you think?

Thanks,

Jim

This year’s focus

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January was an interesting month. Too many work projects that took time away from writing. Last month, WordPress provided a nice summary of last year’s topics. A look back at 2012 revealed that you were most interested in the healthcare value chain and supply chain.

2013

Looking ahead for this year I would like to focus on the following:

  1. Healthcare improvements
  2. Analytics and Mobility
    Analytics and Mobility
  3. Big data
    Big data
  4. Supply chain management (SCM)
  5. Customer relationship management (CRM)
  6. Business transformations for Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices
    Business Transformation
  7. Book reviews on relevant topics

Besides these topics I continue to see my activity on Twitter as a ‘service’ to those who are interested in the Life Sciences and Healthcare industry. Key hashtags include:

  • #pharma, #medicaldevices, and #lifesciences – how technology, social media, and regulations impact this industry segments.
  • #mHealth and #mobility – the use of mobile devices will impact healthcare.
  • #hcsm and #sm– how to best leverage healthcare social media.
  • #healthit, #it and #CIO – all topics related to IT.
  • #sales and #productivity – is a new focus for me since being active in sales

I hope to continue to blog and ‘tweet’ on topics that give help to others. I thank those of you that offered feedback on my blog posts.

Thanks,

Jim

2012 in review

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Hi all,

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for my blog. Thanks to everyone that visited my blog post I appreciate the visits and the chance to share some of my thoughts around technology and Life Sciences. I will publish a plan in early January for the 2013 calendar year. Scroll down for the key metric and access to this summary report.

Have a wonderful holidays and Happy New Year…..  Jim Sabogal

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. Jim’s blog was viewed about 1,600 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Now that you bought that new iPad…

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Like many folks I recently purchased my first tablet. So the purpose of this blog post is to understand where these devices can help, and how best to use them. I wrote a blog post back on February 14, 2011 entitled “Managing my data…” in which I described that we are far from being able to easily manage and support our personal health records. Enter the tablet and with the use of cloud computing we can easily manage our data across multiple devices, and yet this blog post is intended to focus on how the tablet will ‘improve’ the way we process and manage new data.

I would like to focus on three areas where the use of my new Apple iPad device is changing the way we process data. This includes:

  • Improved Productivity
  • Ability to apply new applications to fit our lifestyle
  • Mobility

Improved Productivity

The tablet is the logical next step in the evolution of the computer, and will soon replace my laptop. In the article “What does the Future Hold for Tablet Devices?” the author highlights the key areas of technological improvements around the devices. I’ve been around long enough to see how technology has rapidly evolved – from the early personal computers to the laptop to the tablet.

Smaller, faster and with a better display – so much for the ‘wow’ factor. What can I do with this device? The first areas I find appealing is around the replacement of paper notebooks. Most of us carry around a 5 by 7 lined notebook (or something similar) and with our favorite pen we ‘write’ down key thoughts and ideas for work – or for a new blog post. Since I am not a very fast typist I never got use to using my laptop to ‘write down’ for work or pleasure. Call my old fashion I still enjoy writing notes with a fountain pen (if you can believe that…). I’m now using my new device to replace my trusty notebook as the media for writing down these ideas.

Ability to apply new applications to fit our lifestyle

The tablet will only improve your productivity if you can find the right applications (apps) to help with specific tasks. I am using the following apps for ‘taking notes:’

  • Memo from MyScript – offers a notepad user interface to allow you to write notes. This program does a great job of character recognition and converting your handwriting into text. You can then email your text or image as well as post this to Evernote, Facebook or Twitter. The cost is $2.99 and highly recommended.
  • 7notesHD – is an app with other capabilities to organize your ‘notebook’ pages with ‘cabinets’ (I think of these as folders) and tags. You can mix typed text with handwritten notes and for $8.99 will convert your handwritten notes into text. You can also send your note in either text or pdf formats as an email or to Twitter, Facebook, Evernote or to an application, and if you have the right kind of ‘air’ printer – you can print our your work, and recommended.

Another great use of the iPad is around the ability to gather and read articles across the Internet. The tablet is a great vehicle for presenting news (including the WSJ, FoxNews, Mashable, Flipboard, Business Insider, Readability, Drudge Free, and iHealthBeat) which are apps that can be found for free in iTunes. I am also using the tablet to read books from Apple’s iBook and an app that connect me to my local library called OverDrive. Library’s are moving to digital and providing both eBooks and Audio books that can be downloaded (or checked out) using this app. Finally if magazines are to stay viable in this new digital market they have to become more interactive. One magazine that I do enjoy reading is Wired. The subscription includes both a print and iPad version. I prefer the iPad version since the articles are ‘interactive’ including movie clips of the topic, product or data.

Mobility

This translates into several areas for using the tablet device.

  1. I believe it will be a matter of time before we ditch the laptop for the tablet.
  2. Better ‘learning’ experience since you can ‘easily’ use this device anywhere. The battery on my new device goes for about ten to twelve hours before it needs recharging!
  3. More and more ‘sales’ activity is happening on the tablet. Since I’m involved in IT services the hottest area is around customer relationship management (CRM). Where sales reps are using tablets as an extension of the backend ERP systems. In Service management – field engineers are using tablets to log repair orders and gather pertinent product information.

In the article “It’s the Experience That Sells” the tablet provides a more ‘personal’ dialog around that area that you are presenting. In working with my clients there is a different approach using the iPad which give a more intimate way of presenting your product or service. I am still going through different ways of using my new iPad. I will plan to revisit how personal health record data fits in with this device, so in the meantime I am having fun with my new iPad. Feel free to offer a comment or update on any of the apps I’ve described.

Thanks,

Jim

The Need for Storytelling

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What does ‘storytelling’ have to do with leveraging technology for improving Life Sciences processes? In today’s rapidly changing world of technology you owe it to yourself to learn about and practice the ‘art of storytelling.’ In this blog post I want to give you a summary of why it is a vital skill to learn and practice, some basic do’s and don’ts, and a great reference on this topic.

Why it’s vital to hone your ‘storytelling’ skill

Selling technology is more difficult these days because of the way your audience process information. You’ve got more competitors looking to compete for the same business. Companies continue to ‘innovate’ and how do you offer these new ideas to the market?

Throughout your career you’ve learned to become an ‘expert’ in a given technology. Ask yourself what distinguishes you from your competitor who happens to be in the same field? I’m in IT services where success does not always mean that you have the lowest rates/cost. I constantly receive feedback that while the competition has the best price they fail to deliver on improvements to the business. Can you tell a story around why your company can do a better job delivering the same IT service?

Basic do’s and don’ts

When we prepare for bid defense or engage with a net new client I’ve often discussed how many slides we should use in a typical presentation? Many of you have ‘off-shore’ resources that can do a wonderful job in applying graphic skills to improve the look of a presentation. So here are some basic things to look out for that will hopefully improve your delivery of your ‘story.’

Do’s

  • Go through a process of gathering ideas and developing a timeline for your pitch.
  • Know your audience – who are you selling to….
  • Manage the time to deliver your message.
  • Practice your timing. Your slides should be a reminder to the audience of your topic.
  • Finish early and look to engage in a Q&A.

Don’ts

  • Do not use your presentation as a document. I’ve seen off-shore resources offer lots of text on each slide (simply move this to your notes section).
  • Avoid the use of small fonts on your slides.
  • Resist the temptation to develop your story in PowerPoint. Use a drawing tool (Visio) or Word to outline your ideas. If you collaborate with your team make full use of posit notes to organize your presentation.
  • Avoid acronyms and abbreviations, and do not take for granted that your audience is ‘technically’ at your level.
  • Read the text from your slide. I know this is basic presentation training. Yet I’ve seen too many presentations where this continues to happen.

Recommended reading

A few weeks ago I posted on my LinkedIn Reading list a book entitled: resonate by Nancy Duarte. The author dissects ‘storytelling’ from content through delivery. What Distinguishes this book are the examples she uses to illustrate key points. I find myself referring to this book to prepare for various presentations.
I highly recommend this book.

Thanks,

Jim

Fresh start in 2011

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By now everyone has gotten past their New Year’s resolutions and is picking up where they left off last year. So thinking about my

Fast start...

 first blog post for 2011 I would like to cover the following areas:

  • A look back at 2010
  • Maintaining momentum in 2011
  • The focus for the year

Reviewing 2010

The nice thing about blogging is that you can go back and see how you’ve progressed throughout the year. In last year’s blog post: Upgrading for 2010 I had worked on a business plan to startup a new Life Sciences practice for an IT services company. I covered the five focus areas last year by writing about the following topics:

  • Social Media – from the use of these tools to deriving ‘value’
  • Cloud Computing – producing a white paper for my employer
  • Drug Development
  • A three-part series on Aligning Life Sciences and IT – covering how to leverage information technology; Mobility and Innovation and the Business Process
  • Innovation and Outsourcing
  • A book review on ‘selling’
  • Patent Expiry

Unfortunately the business plan was not approved, and I moved to another opportunity to do business development for an IT services company. This challenging role now has me advising clients on the best use of IT within Life Sciences and Healthcare. This opportunity came by way of my network, and for that I can thank Robert.

Maintaining Momentum in 2011

I continue to focus on the use of social media tools. So I am thankful for my LinkedIn network and my followers on Twitter. I have come across lots of folks with the same interests and challenges for the Life Sciences and Healthcare industry. There are tons of creative people with new ideas for solving today’s business problems. In 2011 I want to carry the momentum started in 2010.

Karl Rove and Jim, 14Dec2010

 

I am also very grateful for my co-workers, coaches and mentors who have helped me transition into my new business development role. Towards the end of 2010 I started to see success in driving new opportunities for my company by aligning IT to improve businesses. Along the way I’ve met many interesting people. I had the chance to attend an industry meeting for Medical Devices and speak to Karl Rove the former aide to President Bush. Politics and Healthcare are very intertwined and for 2011 there continues to be changes.

 

The Focus for this year

I plan to enter 2011 by expanding on last year’s topics. How do I combine my interests with the tasks of being a business development executive? Here’s what I’ve come up with:

  1. Leveraging Twitter to cover the following areas:
    #pharma – how is clinical development, social media, and regulations impacting this segment of Life Sciences?
    #mHealth and #mobility – the use of mobile devices will impact healthcare throughout the world.
    #hcsm – how to best leverage healthcare social media?
    #healthit and #it – what is the impact of IT on the organization?
    #personalizedmedicine and #genomics – will genomics have an impact on healthcare in our lifetime? (I’m currently waiting on results of my own genomics that has to do with ancestry.)
  2. Business process improvements in the areas of Product Lifecycle Management (PLM); Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Supply Chain Management (SCM).
  3. Clinical Development and Analytics
  4. Cloud computing
  5. Mobility
  6. Mergers & Acquisitions
  7. Globalization

In case I forget to add Marketing and the use of Social Media to further drive IT services opportunities. I will be more involved in our website and the use of the social media tools.

I continue to have a personal interest in the Life Sciences and Healthcare industry. Last year I saw the impact of ‘personal health records’ for my brother who is a kidney transplant survivor. I’ve have friends succumb to diabetes, and parents who are aging. How will technology help to improve the lives of these people? Will this be something I will see in my lifetime?

 

January Snowstorm for Newtown, Pennsylvania, USA

So like the snow storms on the East coast of the US. As of January 2011 there are more storms this year than last year. We are starting 2011 with a lot of momentum.

Thanks,

Jim