Discuss, debate and exchange ideas on latest trends and opportunities in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) landscape. Deliberate on adding “business value” to clients, vendors, employees and various other stakeholders to enhance customer satisfaction and sustain long term partnerships.

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August 28, 2015

What purchasing professionals can learn from good business journalists

What? "Supply management professionals need to be like good business journalists". Who says?


Well my dear thought leaders, I am making this statement considering all those millennial, baby boomers, and other generation purchasing professionals out there - industrial buyers, consultants, business process management professionals and others. What do you think? Before you answer as "Yea" or "Nay" or "Don't know", glance through the top three conjectures I have put down to draw such a parallel.

#1. Good business journalists are entrepreneurial and business savvy. They understand business changes and often get the content out in advance to visualize their ramifications. Do you see a confluence here? Good purchasing professionals must understand business (revenue generation) changes and lead stakeholders/business to help them create significant commercial opportunities. Now recall how many times you hear stakeholder/business folks commenting "purchasing folks are usually good in commercial stuff but often we struggle to find the value they can bring to us technically and to lead our business themselves and through their suppliers"? If this is often heard, then I guess now you may be able to pin point "what's actually lacking that needs development at a competency level?

#2.  Good business journalists are renaissance men and women with multi-layered skills. The structured thinking, problem solving, good writing, ethics, investigation, and verification skills they possess drive the apparent impact they make to the external world. What do you think? What % of supply professionals in your network fit such a bill? How many of them can create compelling business cases, robust category strategies and solve business problems using quantitative techniques? I can guess what you are thinking.

#3. Good business journalists are agile experimenters. They will use multimedia channels, deploy emerging as well as leverage existing technologies to the hilt to make each story look different as well as impact worthy. Now compare this with the extent of experimentation that happens as a routine in supply management functions. How many of them know and can put best use of such channels and technologies? What do you find? I bet, the reality will look appalling.

So what should you do if your journalist akin skills need development? Simple. Get help. Consult your talent development team and supply management partners to develop a mentoring program. Get going then. The time to reflect and develop the supply function is now in this smart, connected and daily changing world. I hand over these thoughts to you all now for discussion and comments!!

August 14, 2015

Future of mobile devices in healthcare

The current healthcare market is likely to mature and give way to more innovative and secure mobile health products.


The past few years have seen the healthcare consumer taking advantage of technological advancements through the use of wearable devices, mobile apps, and smart-phone linked devices to get a better grip on their health related issues.  The market is full of intuitive mobile devices and apps to monitor vital statistics, record heart rate, ECG, respiratory rate, skin temperature, sample analysis and keeping track of medication adherence.  Such devices help trigger alerts and raise red flags in case of any trouble so that patients can target such issues through suitable interventions.  More than anything, these devices provide convenience, which is what most consumers want.

In the U.S., since provider payments are increasingly getting tied to outcomes which are dependent on the quality of care delivered to the patient, this trend has been promoted likewise by the physician community as well.  Hence, any means which has the probability of improving outcomes and can be delivered cost-effectively is more than welcomed by the provider community which is the reason why providers are equally excited by their patients' use of mobile apps.  These devices can also reduce the clinic time for patients whose symptoms can be better managed at home, thereby bringing down the cost of care as well.  The data streaming from medical devices and health apps can be used to decide whether there is a need for the patient to be seen, called urgently or to be prescribed medication.  Besides this, payers also reap benefits out of these apps since the healthier the patient the lesser the claims and lesser the claim costs.  Hence we have seen the rise of such tools especially over the past few years and for the same reason the market for wearable healthcare devices and mobile apps would likely grow in the future as well.

However this can only happen provided data security concerns are adequately taken care of. Also, if the data being generated out of these devices just adds another complex layer rather than the insights that it is supposed to drive at for improving the treatment being delivered to the patient, it will be promptly rejected.  Health information technology can help promote multiple uses of such real time data provided the systems have the capability to handle data streaming.  Data streaming however, has to be seamless, secure and HIPAA compliant. Such data can then be used to create treatment protocols to improve outcomes.  With such advancements in technology, it wouldn't be long before these become indispensable to the care of the patient.

However the current market is saturated with over 50,000 free and nearly free products and to get above the curve more and more physicians are looking for FDA approval before prescribing any app.  Hence to compete in such a fast paced, competitive environment, such products have to innovate and be equipped with features to diagnose and treat and come up with new value propositions.  Appropriate clearances have to be met, data security has to be taken care of.  Some examples of such new apps are those approved by FDA for radiologists to view images on their smartphones, and for cardiologists to monitor arrhythmias.  In fact, there needs to be a central database for such apps and a categorization similar to medication categorization might be needed.

In time, these mobile devices are bound to give way to more sophisticated mobile health products, subject to FDA approvals.  Future mobile apps will have larger databases with increased clinical benefits through features such as CDSS built into them.  Various other types of mobile apps will also continue to have innovative features built into them depending on the needs of the consumers and will incorporate the latest technology such as artificial intelligence-oriented algorithms, in the backend.  These would be the next generation mobile apps which will bring in the next phase of change in the healthcare world. Hence the current market is more likely to mature and give way to more innovative and secure mobile health products.

Managing Learning

Many of us rely on our experience and 'tried & tested' methods to get something done. A majority are not even aware that there could be ways, tools or technology available that can get the same work done in half the time!


We live in a day and age where there is abundance of information or what we call as information overload. No matter which field you work in, there are some updates every minute. Now we need to ask ourselves a question, can we, in such a dynamic ecosystem stop to learn? Many of us rely on our experience and 'tried & tested' methods to get something done. A majority are not even aware that there could be ways, tools or technology available that can get the same work done in half the time!

Hence, I strongly advocate that we need to treat our ability to learn as a core skill.

As you read this, I can almost hear many of us complaining: I don't have enough time, there is just too much information to process and the list is never ending! So here are my two cents to boosting your learning:

  • Manage the Chaos:  Once your start exploring the web, you will soon realize there is too much information to process. Excellent websites, blogs, articles, videos that you'd like to know about. This is where an RSS application comes in. A good example is Feedly - it acts as an aggregator of sites that you can subscribe to. This RSS reader helps to bring down the time it will take you go through the. PS: Feedly is free and accessible within the corporate firewall.
  • Leverage your commute: Most of us spend an average of 2 hours each day getting to our place of work. Some of us drive while others take a bus. For both the cases you can listen to podcasts which are basically audio magazines. There are some amazing podcasts out there that cater to a wide variety of choices from project management to learning English. Also a smartphone can often be a great source for learning. From social sites like Twitter where you can subscribe to the movers and shakers in your domain or using the free apps for doing many of the things mentioned above.  Plus with the ever dropping costs of 3G, we can now easily browse videos on Youtube, TED etc.
  • Explore MOOCs: MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses is a concept that has been around for quite some time. These are eLearning programs that are mostly free and conducted by some renowned universities (Stanford, MIT to name a few). You get the opportunity to experience an entire course university-style from industry experts, eminent professors on a host of different topics. Also, like I mentioned earlier they are free! Just think of thousands of dollars that you would have spent if you went to those universities.
  • Invest in learning: While MOOCs are great, they quite often criticized for being more academic than industry driven. If on the job type learning is what you're looking for then there are some excellent sites out there such as Lynda.com or Coursera.com which are effectively like the modern day equivalent of the library of Alexandria. Some of the best talent in the world is contracted for making some amazing learning courses.

We need to start leveraging the amazing learning environment that has been evolving around us. As Henry Ford once said, "Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young." And I reckon in the modern day workplace we cannot afford to be old!

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