Image: The Chronicle
As the year is drawing to a close, we decided to pick Mike O’Brien’s brain, founder of Opencast Software to find out the answers to some burning, important questions that have been raised over the course of the year.
Mike’s background and knowledge of the industry means that he is always on the pulse, offering intelligent insight, striving to always move forward and help shape the digital industry towards a much better, more intelligent and practical environment.
What are your thoughts on the digital switch for the NHS? How do you think it will change the NHS for the better?
It’s important for Government to use more digital services, but it must ensure that they are really well thought through, executed and delivered in a way that makes our lives more straightforward. All parts of Government need to be more efficient and in light of an aging population with longer life expectancy, the NHS needs to make its budgets go further. Technology certainly isn’t the only answer to saving money or making it go further, but if executed well, it can make a huge impact.
This month, the media spoke of billions of pounds of fraud within the NHS. Technology can certainly be used to tackle issues that would have taken armies of investigators in the past.
Any visit to a GP or a hospital immediately reveals integration issues with many disparate modern and legacy systems. As a patient, you can see issues with record keeping, exchange of data and accuracy of data. The reasons for this are well documented, but there’s no reason for this to just be accepted. Different thinking is needed and a move away from legacy thinking in terms of procurement of technology services is required.
So, back to the question – we need the NHS to be more digital and efficient, but we need to be careful how we do this and make sure that as a service it makes the life of a patient easier and more painless.
How do you think digital transformation will affect our next generation?
It’s a good question. It should make the next generation’s lives a lot easier. It will certainly mean they are even more dependent on technology than we are and hence it needs to be fit for purpose, secure and resilient. There’s no point in having a digital society if the infrastructure and the tools that support it aren’t up to scratch.
What about your concerns, do you have any for the industry?
On the digital front, that we ensure the right end to end experiences are built. There are so many terrible examples right now where companies are basically giving all of their problems, internal complexity and admin to their customers. That’s not really a transformation in my mind.
Every business needs to make sure it really values its investment in technology and that it’s an integral part of business today, not just a cost centre that has to be tolerated.
What would you recommend to people starting out in this industry?
I’d say that it’s not easy. There’s a lot to learn. I’d recommend studying an excellent IT course at university that definitely has an industrial placement element. I recall that’s where you learn what the industry is all about. I’d also recommend creating a network of mentors that can help you learn the best practice in software development along with ideas on how to develop your career. There are so many different roles in the industry that are mind-bendingly complicated. I think it’s super important to have a network of experienced people to talk to in order to figure out where you should go next…
Where do you see the world of Tech in 5 years? Will it have evolved much?
Wow. who knows? If I knew, I’d be working in a Private Equity firm!
But seriously, I think we will have more stable and well-built systems and applications as we will depend on them more and more. I’m sure we will see many old ideas resurrected as new which so often happens in our industry. Some industries will be well on the way being totally transformed like the motor industry. I really hope than utilities and telcos will improve their use of technology as they seem to be hugely lagging behind retail for example. The use of technology in the home in a more integrated fashion will make huge leaps forward.
I certainly look forward to not having to remember hundreds of log-in ID’s and passwords, or having to read electricity and water meters!
Mike believes in being results-focused, working in an Agile way. He likes to involve clients, ensuring that progress is clear and that any changes can be made rapidly. This reflects wholeheartedly on the ethos of Opencast. To find out more about what we do, you can visit our website here, http://opencastsoftware.com/ . Alternatively, you can call us at 0191 276 5656