Martin Carpenter is the candy king in his department, regularly buying a giant box of sweets to encourage other teams to engage with IT while getting their sugar fix. It seems to work, encouraging IT ownership from the business as well as business ownership from IT, and virtually eliminating 'crazy' requests by doing so. Through process optimisation and a re-alignment of the IT organisation, he has cut the average time needed to perform a client integration from four months to six weeks, which has a significant impact on revenue and cash conversion.
Name and job title
Martin Carpenter, IT director, Radiology Reporting Online.
How are you influencing the products, experience and services your organisation offers to its customers?
I have ensured that the organisation invests in IT to deliver robust and scalable services. We have moved from a position where we would have regular level 1 and 2 issues to these being eliminated. I have also invested in forging relationships with academic and third-party organisations, and have started an initiative to look at how machine learning could bring disruption to the world of diagnostic imaging and radiology.
How as CIO have you driven cultural and behaviour change in your organisation and to what extent?
I have ensured much closer collaboration between IT and the management team. IT were making too many business decisions and the management team not enough. This is made harder by having a business located in the UK and Australia. I set up an IT board between the two management functions and we meet every six weeks by video call. This has encouraged more collaboration, and critically, more focus on delivery. In the office, I have a number of whiteboards for ideas (so that anyone in the company can put a Post-It note up on the board, which gets reviewed every two weeks) and a kanban board to show what we are working on, but, more crucially, what we have delivered.
Define the key business outcomes that you have delivered over the past 12 months and their impact on your organisation's performance
The main things are:
- Our comms supplier told us that they were closing the comms suite down and we had 60 days to move out and no DR. I managed to procure and migrate all services into a new location in two and a half months without downtime to the business (re-using the old equipment as DR).
- We will move from having performed 450,000 radiology studies in 2014/15 to 620,000 in 2015/16. All of these go over IT systems.
- I have increased the pace and focus of IT delivery through the introduction of an IT board and creation of an IT organisation, including service managers, architect and project managers. When I started it would take an average of four months to perform a client integration. Through process optimisation and re-aligning the IT organisation, the average has dropped to six weeks. This has a significant impact on revenue and cash conversion.
Describe how you have used organisational and third-party information to provide insight that has benefited your organisation, its customers and products or services
This is really helpful, especially with bug data and machine learning, which will ultimately complement humans in performing diagnostics. IT, after all, is advanced pattern matching. Having exposure to this through networking and the availability of online resources has helped shape and forge relationships with third parties such as Imperial College, UCL and BioCentre.
In addition, I initiated the use of a small dedicated offshore development team in Vietnam to augment the team in Sydney, recognising the importance of bespoke development to how our services are delivered. This is working well and has already produced production-ready code from the beginning of November 2015.
Describe how you organise and operate IT and how this aligns effectively with business strategy and operations
I report direct into the CEO, which helps and is hugely refreshing! I have aligned IT formally through the creation of a programme board that looks at IT initiatives across the UK and Australia, accelerating, stopping and starting IT projects as required. I have also restructured the evolving IT team to provide more focus; previously there was a team that did everything and was failing. Finally, I have developed very good working relationships with other members of the management team and within the business. I ensure that I talk regularly with them, asking how things are progressing and seeing if there are any concerns and or issues.
Describe your role in the development of digital strategy in your organisation
Front and centre. I submitted a paper in October to the board on using big data in analytics, which was well received. The organisation will not grow and become more competitive without the product differentiation and efficiency enhancements that have been and are in the process of being delivered.
Describe how you use and promote technology to redesign the processes, services and structures of your organisation to enable it to become more efficient and customer-focused
Some of this is about using technology, but some of it is common sense. I have invested a lot of effort in the past year to ensure that colleagues outside of IT understand what work is being done, what the priorities are, and what work has been delivered. Getting this right, has enabled the conversation to be a lot more interactive with finance, operational and sales colleagues. In an operational sense, we use the technologies we deploy to fully automate the delivery of the teleradiology service. This means that the radiographer has simply to select RRO as the recipient on the scanner, and the report is delivered back to the client's patient systems.
How do you engage regularly with your organisation about your team and the role of technology in the organisation, and what impact is this having?
I have a featured section in the in-house newsletter informing all staff and clients about what technology initiatives we are having.
How do you use social networks to engage in conversations across the industry about the opportunities and challenges technology is creating?
I am a regular user of LinkedIn and Twitter, though I prefer face-to-face conversations, so tend to identify opportunities online and follow up where possible with a face-to-face conversation.
How do you bring the organisation together to explore and discuss technology and its challenges and to develop stronger alignment of the technology function with the full business?
In May 2015, following a visit to the Australian part of the company, I initiated an IT board. On it sits the respective CEOs from the UK and Australia, operations, finance, marketing and clinical leaders as well as senior IT managers from both the UK and Australia. The conversation is very much about the IT issues that are business-related. In doing this there is more business ownership from IT as well as IT ownership from the business. We have almost eliminated crazy requests by doing this!
Describe how you keep up to date with developments in technology and IT management
I am a regular attendee at CIO events, BCS events, computing events (probably an average of one or two a month).
Provide an example of how you have developed the diversity and improved the culture of your team
We do have a team based on merit, and have worked hard to focus the team on delivery, outcome and output. We are very flexible in working arrangements, and due to personal circumstances encouraged team members to work remotely from the US (Kentucky) and Pakistan during periods of family commitment rather than taking unpaid leave. The team do criticise me, though, as I regularly buy a 3.5kg box of sweets from the cash and carry. Although less healthy than a water cooler, it's more enjoyable, and encourages other teams to engage with IT while getting a sugar fix.
Describe how you collaborate and influence the organisation and its leadership team
I have created a shared purpose about what the IT department is working on, and how. Prior to this the leadership team had no visibility of IT performance, how work was being managed, and what the delivery pipeline was looking like. Now the leadership team get weekly snapshot reports of all projects and initiatives.
Tell us how you have developed your own management, leadership and personal skills
I have had one-to-one mentoring at various periods in my career. The last was in 2014 when I was considering a move. My role is setting the IT direction along with leadership colleagues and then using a coaching style to get my team and others in the business to deliver against it. I do seek feedback from others on how I am performing and if there are any areas of concern or improvement, I take those on board where possible.
What new technologies are you investigating, tracking or experimenting with?
We are looking closely at machine learning and have forged a relationship with Imperial College to explore this further; it has the potential to be hugely disruptive to our business. We have had exploratory meetings with a Danish company looking at how to use data better in imaging diagnostics.
How do you decide where to apply the best technological approach?
Discussion over strategic fit and where we are able to leverage the most competitive advantage, and those products in the market that are almost commodity. So we have a mixture of off-the-shelf and in-house developed software.
Do you give yourself and your team time each month to assess or learn about technology vendors outside of the established providers?
Yes, I encourage the team to look at new tools and technologies and attend vendor events.
Describe your sourcing strategy and your strategic suppliers
Sourcing strategy is based on a number of factors. In terms of core systems, there are a few suppliers of diagnostic imaging, so we look to those that are able to adequately service us in the UK and Australia. We use Dell, as we increasingly have radiologists located globally (South Africa, Switzerland, Canada, the US, Israel, New Zealand), so we need a supplier that can deliver services globally, but allow for the fact we are a small organisation.
Describe the technology innovations that you have introduced in the last year and what they have enabled
I initiated the pilot of a software-defined network project in Australia. Sending large amounts of images over low-bandwidth connections has been a feature of the business, and has taken a large amount of overhead. The pilot has shown that low-bandwidth pipes alongside SDN can offer improved performance and significantly reduced cost.
I also initiated the use of an offshore development team to supplement the in-house team (located in Vietnam for cost and timezone reasons). We have also implemented a virtual PBX with mobile pairing to improve the quality and cost of calls between the UK and Australia. We were suffering dropped connections with the old system, which have now been eliminated.
What strategic technology deals have been struck and with whom? What uniquely do they bring?
We took steps towards cloud services through an outsourcing deal with Advanced365. They have a unique position in the market, having experience in operating critical healthcare infrastructure for the 111 service and GPs. They also have an SME focus, which is what we were looking for. The deal allows us to transition our environment to a managed service as we grow and if required.
Has your organisation detected a cyber intrusion in the last 12 months?
Is cyber security led and discussed by senior management?
When did you start your current role?
What is your reporting line?
Are you a member of the board of directors?
What is the annual IT budget?
10% of revenue (£1m).
How much of your IT budget is capital and how much revenue?
40% capital, 60% revenue.
What is your budget's operational/development split?
How many users does your department supply services to?
Are you finding it difficult to recruit the talent you need to drive transformation?
Has recruitment and retention risen up your agenda as a CIO?
Does your IT organisation operate an apprenticeship scheme?
How many employees are there in your IT team?
Nine in the UK, 16 in Australia (four outsourced in Vietnam).
Are you increasing your headcount to bring skills and the ability to react to needs in-house?
What is the split between in-house/outsourced staff?
80% in-house, 20% outsourced.