innovation

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

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Did you remember your Device today?

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In December of 2011 I started using the Fitbit Ultra, a wearable wireless device, to help me watch my daily fitness (or lack of exercise).

Fitbit

I do not claim to be an athlete, my personal goals are to live a more active and healthy life. So this month’s blog post is all around the use of these devices.

The Fitbit Ultra is one of a few devices now on the market (refer to 3 New Fitness Gadgets).
These devices look to answer three things, in my opinion:

  • A monitor for your health and activity
  • Provide feedback if you ‘are exercising enough’
  • Single source of ‘personal data’

My background

I offer IT services consulting advice within the Life Sciences and Healthcare industry. So I have an interest in this area. My daily routine changes, as is the case, between travel and office work – team projects (request for proposal (RFP) activity and orals presentation preparation) to new client meetings. Like any consultant or sales rep a life on the road and in the office. Not to mention finding time for this blog and added social media activity. As an early adopter of this technology I was debating between the Up from Jawbone or the Fitbit Ultra. With Jawbone having manufacturing difficulty I settled on the Fitbit Ultra. Not a bad choice in my opinion.

A monitor for your health and activity

This ‘wearable’ device is small and compact. All you need to do is to remember to wear the device as part of your daily and evening routine. The Fitbit is not waterproof nor does it contain a GPS device. I like the fact that the Fitbit can be worn while you sleep and offers you feedback on your sleeping patterns.

Fitbit with USB charging station

Are you exercising enough?

I am not an athlete yet I want to make a healthy lifestyle. The value in monitoring my daily routine is so that I can ‘change it up’ to include some form of exercise. When I’m working from home I can go for a jog or do some yoga. Of course when you’re traveling this can disrupt your routine, and I find myself to easily distracted and may forget to run or do some yoga. For the serious runners out there you may want to supplement the Fitbit with apps like RunKeeper which uses the GPS found in the iPhone to give exact distance and time recordings.

Single source of data

The biggest draw for me with the Fitbit is that you can enter daily information via your smartphone or from your laptop. The device requires that you synchronize the content of the data from the Fitbit to your account via a USB connected sensor. The Fitbit will keep up to three days worth of data. Here is a snapshot of a standard report that summarizes my activities:

Sample Fitbit weekly report...

The Future of Medicine?

Dr. McCoy from Star Trek

In the latest product announcement for Nike and their Fuel device “By 2017: 170M wearable wireless health and fitness devices. Monitoring your health with mobile devices will be the next improvement in healthcare for all of us. We will see the next iterations of these devices as they get smaller and provide more connectivity via apps that can combine your personal data. I like using this device and for now it meets my health goals.

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

IT Innovation and Outsourcing

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Cost pressures have forced companies to ‘outsource’ a variety of IT services. How much information technology (IT) to outsource depends on which industry you are in and to what extent IT plays a part in your end product or service. I will use several sources to describe the balance between IT innovation and outsourcing relative to the Life Sciences and Healthcare industry. I came from a background in software delivery and now I am active in IT services and solutions. Many of our clients have to balance this decision, and surprisingly there are advantages to outsourcing as it focuses an organization on IT innovation in support of the business goals.

Focus on IT Innovation

I came across article Harvard Business Review (August 2, 2010 by Susan Cramm) which posed the statement: “with extensive outsourcing, over time, companies lose the ability to innovate IT.” The question is if an organization outsources many of its developmental projects how can these companies attract, develop, and keep IT smart leaders. The example used came from the banking industry where large-scale outsourcing limited that company’s ability to innovate IT. It seems to me that given the changes in technology and the impact of improving healthcare there should be a conscious effort to balance outsourcing and concentrate on IT innovations. The Harvard Business Review article points to the loss in jobs due to excessive outsourcing, yet within the Life Sciences industry it is IT innovations that will propel the advances we seek in healthcare.

Another driver in all this is the ability to create ‘value.’ In the article on “Six Fundamental Shifts in the Way We Work” competition has intensified and that the new centers of innovation are in China and India. So it seems to me that we need more of a balance, or as the article points out, a “collaboration curve” between outsourcing and IT innovation within Life Sciences and Healthcare. It is not that the US has lost its edge. We are still a nation of ideas and creativity. Outsourcing is one of those ‘shifts’ that we can use to our advantage. This drives the focus of our jobs and assignments to create ‘value’ by way of IT innovation. For example in a past posting I described the use of PDAs for doctors and nurses leading to IT efficiencies that improve healthcare. As the outsourcing vendor we provided off-shore development resources. Collaborating with our client we worked on all aspects of the design, prototyping, testing and delivery.

Outsourcing provides a means for Life Sciences companies to lower their operating costs. In the article on “Pharma contractors hiring fastest in sector” (August 17, 2010 by Tracy Staton) it describes how Pharmaceutical services and outsourcing firms are hiring (as high as 5 times as fast as drug companies themselves). The article goes on to describe the business reasons for going this route as oppose to full-time employees. We need to be aware that this shift to outsourcing has an effect on the current workforce. Which is why I felt compelled to post this blog. I cannot speak for some of the other industries, yet within Life Sciences outsourcing will remain a key driver for controlling costs. Where does this put you? Can you see yourself being the one directing new IT innovations with off-shore resources? How are you ready for this ‘shift’ in IT?

Thanks,
Jim