Keeping Pace with Changing Technological Advancements
By Cameron Brill, CIO, St John New Zealand
How is the technology landscape evolving? What are the crucial changes that have occurred in the last five years?
Technology is evolving each and every day and there are big advancements coming out now. The business professionals and CIOs are reacting accordingly. As a CIO, I believe technology plays a significant role in developing a strong connection amongst people and improving their lives.
For example, St John provides ambulance services throughout New Zealand. With the advent of technology, the firm can meet the broader health needs of New Zealand communities. Given the adoption of latest technological trends, St John New Zealand has recently introduced ICT and digital strategy which is a 3-5 year plan and is part of a bigger corporate strategy. Within that plan, the firm offers certain key initiatives or sub-strategies environment. And within those sub-strategies, it is focusing on technologies like IoT, AI, RPA, and also digital transformation in the e-commerce sector.
What are the challenges present today in the industry and are yet to overcome?
Businesses are moving from traditional infrastructures to digital innovation systems and I always believe that the biggest challenge is around the people. I don’t consider technology as a challenge; technology is knowledge, it’s a measure of having the right people in the right ability against the move in that direction. Technologies like agile and some other practices which come with a couple of changes are not just an IT course across the organization.
What are the challenges that CIOs face when it comes to people and integrating them into an organization?
Certain instructions need to be followed in a traditional IT organization. The ultimate aim is to develop the people within the organization to become more focused on digital outcomes and to become more innovative.
Businesses are moving from traditional infrastructures to digital innovation systems, and I have always believed that the biggest challenge is around the people
What are key technologies that are rolling the ball when it comes to healthcare space?
The St John team has developed an application which is quite helpful for the people. If somebody dials 111 for ambulance, it sends the team a notification and they dispatch an ambulance also a qualified public. Qualified public is somebody who is qualified to deal with an incident like a cardiac arrest for example. The way the app works is—the app will dispatch anybody who has downloaded the app and live within a certain radius then they have the opportunity to respond to that incident. The app also lets the responder know where the defibrillators are within 400 meters radius. So, mobility acts as an important factor in such cases.
One of the things that have been observed is that a lot of elderly people wish to stay at home rather than at hospitals. Even the hospitals and the government are struggling with the increasing numbers in the hospitals and are looking for opportunities to reduce the numbers. To tackle such problems, St John provides medical alarms around 40,000 homes in New Zealand. The team is looking at how it can help people with IoT in homes to monitor aspects like temperature or motion and also using wearables to get some metrics from elderly people. For example, with an 88-year-old lady, the medical alarm will be able to tell the temperature or the motion in the house. The alarm sends a text to the family members informing about the ongoing incident in the house. The company has a “My St. John” portal for all its products and services, and it is accessible from mobile devices.
Linking everything to document management, the team is viewing all about document management, knowledge management, internet, extranet and moving to a more social media platform and bringing people together with an approach to communicate in a better way.
What advice would you impart to a CIO on a similar role when it comes to the daily management aspect of the leadership/position that you are currently holding?
As an advice I would say, forget about the technology, talk about the communications—how they can change the customer or the user experience. CIOs should focus on the IT team or the cross-functional team on how their company can communicate or can share data, how it can connect easily with external companies and just being sure that the conversation is not about the technology, but it’s about the experience.
What does the future hold for your landscape? What would be your views on that?
St John New Zealand has its vision revolving around its three services— ambulance service, commercial service, and community service. It aims to be the trusted provider of innovative outcomes for St John. I think at this stage, there will be success if we can rebrand the digital services or the line of innovation in those three areas.