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Qld’s biggest hospitals cluster sees clearly through the cloud

A MAJOR Queensland hospital and health service has adopted leading ‘cloud’ technologies to reduce costs while improving patient care.

Queensland’s Metro North Hospital and Health Service has used its increased information technology capacity – through the cloud – to launch a next-generation electronic referral management system and clinical portal.

The system Metro North Hospital is implementing comes from Nasdaq-listed Nutanix, an innovator in applying enterprise cloud computing to a wide range of industries and a specialist which has strong expertise in health sector IT.

The Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform is being utilised to both reduce costs and develop new digital services to improve patient care. Another benefit in the early stages has been in the way Nutanix has improved the flexibility of delivering clinical information systems. 

Metro North Hospital and Health Service (MNHHS) treats more than 600,000 patients annually and is made up of five hospitals including Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, The Prince Charles Hospital, Redcliffe, Caboolture and Kilcoy Hospitals in Brisbane’s north. 

Metro North’s solutions architect Antony Batrouni said the consolidation meant going from four data centres to one highly resilient primary site with a remote disaster recovery site.

“We needed something that could scale quickly to meet the demands of a much larger organisation, and that’s when we selected Nutanix,” Mr Batrouni said.

He said the additional IT capability achieved with Nutanix had enabled a commensurate platform for digital services to be implemented within the hospital group. It deployed the MNHHS electronic Referral Management system and Enterprise Service Bus, which would be extended for broader clinical services in the near term. These systems require high performance and availability as expected by clinical services.

Mr Batrouni said the types of systems MNHHS was launching now were more complex than ever before, with a development operations (devops) team focused on developing innovative services for clinicians to enable them to provide better care to patients.

“Nutanix ensures these services are reliable and can be turned into a platform faster than ever before,” Mr Batrouni said.
Nutanix has also enabled Metro North to make significant cost savings in database management systems (DBMS) licensing fees and a total reduction in cost of almost 50 percent per virtual machine (VM) deployed.

“In a hospital environment, any cost savings made in areas such as IT are then available to be invested back into patient care,” Mr Batrouni said.

He said with the Nutanix platform, MNHHS  was looking to new technology to bring additional services to benefit patients, such as advanced medical imaging. Overall, the platform has led to increased performance, higher availability and improved disaster recovery design across the 800 applications used daily by staff.

According to Mr Batrouni, the platform is supporting around four times its previous workload and with additional capacity to spare. This means a better user experience and mitigated impact to clinical staff and patients if there are any outages or other issues, he said. 

Nutanix was selected by Metro North primarily due to its maturity and leadership in the enterprise cloud and ‘hyperconverged’ infrastructure space, as well as its compatibility with Dell. The organisation has incrementally increased its environment since the initial deployment and uses virtually all Nutanix’s products and services. MNHHS is considering using the Nutanix hypervisor AHV in the near future.

“Health organisations and the patients they care for can gain huge benefits from digital transformation,” said Nutanix Asia-Pacific and Japan region’s senior vice president, Matt Young.

“To realise that potential, you need the right infrastructure in place to manage it. Metro North is using enterprise cloud technology to save costs and develop digital services that have real benefits for clinicians and patients.”

www.nutanix.com

 

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The Benevolent Society deploys Dell Boomi ‘cloud’ for business expansion

THE BENEVOLENT Society has turned to Dell’s Boomi integration platform as-a-service (iPaaS) to enable the organisation’s move to a 100 percent ‘cloud’ enterprise model to grow more effectively.

It is a significant commitment to business expansion for The Benevolent Society, recognized as Australia’s first charity. Founded in 1813, The Benevolent Society provides a range of support services to people with disabilities, children and families, older Australians and carers. 

With the goal of ‘helping Australians live their best lives’, the not-for-profit has kick-started its cloud migration in order to create a mobile workforce and streamline internal processes. Over the next year, The Benevolent Society will use Boomi to more efficiently complete its reporting to government, and subsequently further improve its employees’ ability to continue providing services to Australians.

“Technology is playing an increasingly prominent part in the way we operate as an organisation,” The Benevolent Society director of IT, James Foot said. “For us, a key part in improving the service and the experience we provide to clients begins with the connection at our back end.

“That means ensuring important client information is readily accessible through a secure interface. Boomi provides us with a platform to synchronise our systems so the data that is generated is accurate, up-to-date, and easy to use by our teams.”

Boomi’s iPaaS was selected to centralise The Benevolent Society’s applications and the data generated so employees could access critical resources on any device, in any location and at any time.

Mr Foot said this was particularly significant for The Benevolent Society’s client-facing practitioners who were no longer restricted by location and time, and could now deliver more elaborate and timely services to clients.

For example, any time a client calls in to The Benevolent Society’s contact centre and is authenticated, the contact centre manager will instantly have all information at hand without requiring the caller to provide a detailed background on the conversation again. This includes details on how many times the client has interacted with The Benevolent Society, what services they are receiving, and what follow-up questions to ask.

Boomi has also simplified The Benevolent Society’s entire data environment by connecting dozens of systems – including up to 20 customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, human resources tools and bespoke apps which were formerly siloed – into a single interface. Mr Foot said this not only ensured data wqas up-to-date and accurate for all users, but removed the need for repetitive and time-consuming manual data entry into multiple databases.

The additional benefit of consolidating this previously disparate data is that The Benevolent Society is now able to streamline processes related to its reporting obligations. Some Australian funding models require organisations to report client statistics including the number of clients it services and how many services are being provided.

The Boomi technology is also supporting the onboarding of 800 new staff and 9,000 new clients following The Benevolent Society’s joining together with the NSW Government’s Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) Disability Community Services Teams.

“By using Boomi to create a connected business, The Benevolent Society is even further boosting its ability to help Australians in need,” Dell Boomi managing director for Asia-Pacific and Japan, Michael Evans said.

“The integration of apps and data equips The Benevolent Society’s employees with the resources they need to perform their jobs anywhere and at any time. As a result, they can respond even faster to optimise the experiences of clients with a personalised touch.”

Boomi is an independent business unit of cloud integration and workflow automation software  provider, Dell, and the system is deployed to more than 6000 organisations worldwide.

www.boomi.com

 

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Forget software for customer service, remember ‘soft skills’

By Fleur Telford >>

DAY TO DAY tasks once reserved for finance professionals are being taken over by data feeds, bots, and good system integration.

As information technology (IT) continues to evolve, the rise of smart financial applications have given rise to tools that even the lesser skilled can access to improve their clients’ businesses.

What used to be outsourced to minimise cost can now be processed in-house, as technological advances have markedly reduced time-consuming data processing tasks. 

This saves resources, time and money of course, but the question that needs to be asked is: “What happens to the people?” – both within organisations and for the clients they serve, in this Brave New World.

Artificial intelligence (AI) can find a myriad of answers to a specific question but it’s not known for great conversation. AI is also low on empathy and inter-personal skills, despite what we see in the movies. 

So today, and certainly for the foreseeable future, no amount of tech supremacy can ask business owners how they feel, what they’re worried about, and where it is they would like their business to go.

When it comes to sharing our fears, woes, hopes and dreams, speaking to another human wins every time. In the professional world, people still matter.

Accountants are, as one of my colleagues wittily put it, “anxiety transfer agents”, interacting as no AI source ever could, giving comfort that help is at hand.

TECH JUST ANOTHER TOOL

Technology is merely a tool, and should be treated as such, and we should keep our focus on what is truly important: our client relationships. Clients will far prefer a meaningful chat about their business than a slew of reports emailed to them once a month.

The reassurance we bring to our clients by working with them personally can never be replicated by software. If new technology has given us more time, then we should invest those hours in our clients, broadening the way in which we assist them.

Tech should empower, not disempower, complement, not be subject to compliment.  It should make us consider why we entered professional services in the first place: the emphasis should be on service.

Sometimes, I think we forget this in the rush to implement the next shiny app that will relieve all of our bottom line woes (or so the hype would have us believe).

How does this impact the workplace of the future? I believe it means a reassessment of the values and attitudes we look for in the next generation of employees.

SOFT SKILLS MOST VITAL

We hear talk of ‘soft skills’, but these have never been more important than in these technological times. It is an age of the increasingly impersonal, so we need to be looking for graduates who are equipped with a much broader skill set than before.

Some professional service firms will only interview soon-to-be graduates if their marks fall within a Distinction or High Distinction average. But this doesn’t mean they are necessarily ‘people people’, capable of active listening, discernment and understanding a client’s concerns.

Our ‘next gen’ employees need to be able to hold conversations, tell a story, be able to explain complex scenarios in everyday language, and give practical guidance to clients on how to build their businesses.

If undergraduates are wondering how to get these skills, I would suggest actively seeking work in businesses during semester breaks, learning what it means to run a business, face a cash flow crisis, handle difficult staff members.  Undergraduates should seek mentors who have great interpersonal skills, sound experience, and who are willing to pass this on.

In this way, we can get back to the basics and listen to what our clients want for their business and for themselves.

Technology may provide answers, but we deliver solutions and deeper insights, while building rapport through great service delivery.

www.kmpg.com/au

*Fleur Telford is KPMG Enterprise director of technology. 

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Novius ushers in paradigm shift for architecture, engineering, construction

FOR PROESSIONALS in the architecture, engineering and construction sectors, an Australian IT innovator named Novius seems destined to change how projects are successfully managed and executed forever.

What Novius achieves sounds simple – providing a collaborative three-dimensional (3D) modelling environment in the ‘cloud’. However, achieving this in a way that enables all stakeholders to participate in real time, smoothly and effectively, has been the ‘holy grail’ for the interrelated industries Novius refers to as the ‘AEC’ sector.

Novius today may be a young and relatively small company, but the minds who created it are long on experience in both IT and AEC disciplines. They essentially created the Novius system to meet their own high standards for robust, flexible and efficient daily use. 

According to the company’s director of strategic development, Joshua Staggs, first among equals is Novius CEO Paul Listo, who he described as being “an innovative and accomplished IT professional who also has the rare practical experiential advantage of having worked as an architectural technician for many years”.

Mr Staggs said it was while trying to improve enterprise IT and design systems for more efficient multi-site use that Mr Listo discovered ‘the cloud’ as a solution. Properly enabled, the cloud could provide a work environment that would solve many of the day-to-day problems and inefficiencies of the way drawings were being created and communicated between architects, engineers and construction managers.

From his own ICT and business management background, Mr Staggs said he realised the potential of Mr Listo’s concepts immediately and decided to help form Novius to bring that potential capability to reality.

“I believe what Paul has created will soon make Novius the ‘go-to’ place for the AEC sector,” Mr Staggs said. “Paul and Novius are focussed on architecture, engineering, construction and manufacturing primarily because the AEC market experiences lots of pain in this space.”

BORN FROM EXPERIENCE

Paul Listo knows about the ‘pain’ of getting the basics right on a daily basis from his years working as an architectural draftsman. He knows how fraught with difficulty the most basic thing – making sure all parties have the latest drawings to work from – can be in practice.

And he knows what happens, in terms of time and money lost, when things don’t all come together as they should. In fact, it was the reason he began to imagine an enterprise-grade system where everyone concerned could collaborate and contribute in real time, so the drawings being worked with were always the most up-to-date.

And then the ‘cloud’ came along.

“What separates us from others is that we are simultaneously a cloud service provider and a solutions provider in the one business,” Mr Listo said. “And this leads us towards our target industries of architecture, engineering, construction, manufacturing, mining, oil and gas …”

Listo’s inherent industry knowledge in shaping the Novius solution also plays out in the way the company collaborates with clients. Every negotiation begins with an assessment of real needs and an implicit ability to scale fast, up and down, to suit any project.

“The way we build and control our cloud and scale our cloud is based heavily on our solution expertise,” Mr Listo said. “When we implement that solution we are in a position to make guarantees about it working, because we know how we have constructed it and how we will continue to build it.”

Mr Listo began to understand the paradigm shift that the cloud could bring to AEC industries – provided all major enterprise software solutions could be made to work effectively on it – as he was building solutions to improve productivity for the architectural practice he worked for at the time, which partners closely with a Chinese architectural practice and operates a Cairns satellite branch office. These solutions included ways to improve collaboration between stakeholders.

“This was at a time when the infrastructure that would allow 3D software to be run in a data centre environment was very much in its infancy,” Mr Listo said. “Slash, not even existent yet.”

In the early stages he would implement solutions to provide partial collaboration to overcome that lack of available infrastructure to facilitate complete collaboration..

“The hardware got to the point where it was actually a viable option to pursue,” he said. “This has always been a very big passion project of mine. Having to collaborate with multiple stakeholders and having to work with people who were in remote areas, it was just not something this industry had ever been able to really achieve before, or do well.

“There is not a single business that I go and talk to that does not have at least one problem around that, operationally.”

WORLD FIRST?

Novius is one of the first companies in the world to provide a genuine ‘good-to-go’ cloud 3D collaboration solution in the AEC market.

While Novius has identified several potential competitors emerging in Europe, and large cloud providers such as Amazon and Google claim to offer solutions, none are as specifically tailored to the particular needs of the AEC market as the rapidly developing Australian company.

Novius brings to the table a comprehensive consultation with each approach, tailoring the solution to suit a particular company’s – or project’s – needs and requirements. 

Novius also has bragging rights, Mr Listo said, to a very useful capability: “We will make any CAD software work in this environment. Provided the licence agreements will enable us to do so, we will not discriminate in terms of what software you can run on the cloud.”

Novius has already received positive reports from its client users of AEC products in the cloud such as Autodesk products, Bluebeam Revu, Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft products and others. Much of that feedback continues to come through its major re-seller in Australia, A2K Technologies.

Novius is finding its reputation for understanding a company or project’s specific needs – and not only tailoring a technical solution but also training stakeholders in how to best utilise the new capability – is driving adoption fast.

“If you’ve got multiple stakeholders – say, an electrical engineer, a mechanical engineer, an architect and a hydraulic engineer, all able to work in the same space and view the same information in real time, then absolutely yes – you will save time, drive productivity and therefore you will also decrease cost in the business,” Mr Listo said.

““A multi-site business is another one. Hypothetically speaking, I have a branch office of five staff, and they take on a reasonably sized project. They have won a big project because they come from a big firm but their primary workforce resides at their head office. This particular project may require  10 people to complete. They utilise the spare resourcing in head office to then meet the requirements of the job.

“Novius would, in that situation, definitely and dramatically improve the time in collaborating between the multi-site offices as well. It’s about having your branch office staff and your head office team working together as though they were sitting in the same office.

“For multi-site, multi-disciplinary projects, it is a big, big deal in terms of time saving.”

AVOIDING COSTLY MISTAKES

Saving time is one thing, but saving money is an increasing imperative in the AEC sector – and that often means preventing costly mistakes. Again, Novius is aiming to change the paradigm for the better, making the most of Mr Listo’s real-world experience.

“Based on my time when I worked in the industry, I would say that it is going to improve the relationship (between AEC stakeholders) and save time,” Mr Listo said.

“I witnessed first-hand problems where someone would make a change to a 3D model on a Monday, but because these 3D models are so large, importing the files together to join them into one takes a substantial amount of time. It was not efficient or economical to do that on a daily basis, so we did it on a weekly basis.

“The problem there was that, say, you put the models together on a Friday and then Monday morning someone goes and changes something, because they need to get their job done.” 

He gave a real example he saw in which the plan for air conditioning ductwork was being designed mid-week and, according to the 3D model assembled the previous week, that duct was positioned just above the ceiling height. However, unbeknown to the engineers, earlier in that same week someone decided, on the architectural side, to raise the ceiling in that area.

“So what happened was, at the same time they raised the ceiling in the 3D model, the mechanical engineer had designed a duct that was now sitting through the ceiling,” Mr Listo said.

“If everyone had access to the latest 3D model live, the engineer would have seen the fact that the ceiling had been raised, which would have raised an amicable conversation rather than having committed to the point of having done a whole set of drawings and details and things like that around these changes to then combine the models, meet to discuss them on Friday and have a long argument over whose change was more important.”

The Novius system could also be expected to reduce the incidence of building variations and make-good procedures.

“There are implications for onsite workers as well, especially in construction,” Mr Liston said. “If they are working on a regularly updated 3D model and they are able to view that on iPads, and other tablet devices, on site with regularly updated drawings … when they are logged into this system they know they are working on the most current model and drawings, so you know there is going to be fewer mistakes.

“A huge problem of what happens on site is that, say, an architect makes a series of revisions, and they send that to the project manager. They then send that to the sub-contractors, but the sub-contractors could build off an older revision because they have accidentally misplaced the recent drawings or accidentally picked up an older set of drawings.

“Over the early stages of construction, you have often got something like 10 revisions that have happened on site. Those drawings get reprinted every day. They get stuffed up because people are not always the most efficient when it comes to destroying old drawings or old documents. Someone picks up the wrong one or does the wrong thing and all of a sudden you have got a mistake,” Mr Listo said.

“If that mistake is as severe as a slab being poured in the wrong spot, or not long enough or too long, it can actually have implications that are measured in hundreds of thousands of dollars when it comes down to the building variation.

“Having people being able to work in a central location like Novius offers can make a massive difference to costs on a project of that scale. That’s a pretty big deal,” he said.

“This really highlights our competitive advantage.”

www.novius.com.au

 

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