By: David Lafferty, EVP and CIO, Tidewell Hospice
What was the motivating factor behind your business's move to the cloud?
We needed a solution where we could focus on our core competency without burdening IT staff with the day to day requirements of hardware and software, let alone the capital costs. Secondly, we wanted to be sure we invested in a solution that could span other areas of our business beyond CRM and grow with us. â€¨
What does the term social enterprise mean to you?
A social enterprise is a company that embraces collaboration. It’s typical for manager in a company to have a tendency to not share information in their area. There’s a mental check that has to occur before a company realizes the value of sharing interactions on a regular and open basis. It’s an “ah hah” moment that doesn’t come easily.
In other words, being a social enterprise doesn’t mean you simply use social tools; rather, it’s a moment when management realizes the value of sharing between departments and promotes that value to the entire company. â€¨â€¨
How is your business social today?
We embrace social media, but I wouldn’t consider us a true social enterprise yet. We recognize the value, we participate, and we contribute to social media with our customers (patient referral sources, physicians, patient families, etc.).
The ability of a company to move from being social externally to being social internally happens at a different pace. If you were to create a readiness curve with the left side being a company that is not social, and the right side a social enterprise, a company that embraces social media externally is just one step away from becoming a full social enterprise.
A lot of companies are still listening to the vision and beginning to test the waters. It is the future, but it’s a difficult adjustment because it has to be consistent across the board.
Where do you envision it being a year from now, five years?
People have to get more comfortable using social in their own lives before we can be successful with social technology in the enterprise. The demographic of many colleagues in our organization is a bit older so not everyone is embracing social media in their personal lives. So what we do is promote it with those that are already comfortable with it.
The pace by which a company can make the transition to a social enterprise is somewhat tied to what’s promoted from the top, and how comfortable people are with it on a personal level.
For example, many of us are conditioned to check email every day, all day long. Recently, I gave my daughters new phones with email addresses and they couldn’t understand what they would need email for. Why wouldn’t we just texting? So the lesson here is that our generation needs to become conditioned to look to social media much the same way as we value email communications today. Certainly the next generation will be a different animal in this regard.
What has mobility meant to your business?
Mobility means quick and effective communication. When you put people on smart phones and tablets, the ability to always access info and be notified in real time is far easier.
For Tidewell, it’s about being connected. We have employees in the field all day. We can’t really set a schedule for nurses and expect them to keep to it with people constantly calling them with additional patients. Now we know their status at any given time – are they available, admitting patients, etc. It’s allowed us to be more effective and improve the turnaround time to see a patient from when they call us.
â€¨What hurdles do companies need to overcome to become mobile and social enterprises?
To becoming a social enterprise, the biggest hurdle is employee comfort level. There needs to be a sense of comfort and confidence that the info you’re sharing is beneficial to someone else downstream in the process.
With mobility, cost is still an issue depending on the organization and depending on the devices. We’re starting to see that change where the carriers subsidize device costs at corporate level. Some progressive companies allow people to bring their own devices. But the biggest hurdle is still data security.
â€¨What would you tell someone getting into IT today?
Don’t just go to school in IT and say I will have an IT career. Pick an industry where you can make an impact from technology and use that to help solve real life industry issues.
Many industries, healthcare in particular, need technologists that understand the industry in order to use technology to solve its problems. In healthcare, you need to have a certain degree of understanding of CMS promoting electronic medical records, health info exchanges, coupled with hospitals and hospital networks with large imaging data bases. It’s an industry that needs tech folks to solve problems.
â€¨Who do you most admire in the tech/business world today?
Steve Jobs. He was bent on changing the world and always saw the bigger picture. â€¨