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Top CIOs start the journey to the 'digital enterprise'

Michael Fitzgerald | Oct. 29, 2014
The buzzphrase 'digital enterprise' can be a bit mushy. What does it really mean? And how do you get there? Here are five emerging models.

3. Data-Driven Interactions

At $18.7 billion biotechnology company Amgen, the digital enterprise simply means an organization that can reach its customers in digital ways. Amgen's customers are changing. Technologies like electronic health records, wearable health-monitoring devices and cloud computing are "creating an opportunity for a company like Amgen to participate directly in that patient/physician and payer space that didn't necessarily exist for us five years ago," says Diana McKenzie, CIO at Amgen. She argues that healthcare is the industry most affected by digitization, because of how it breaks down long-standing industry silos.

She sketches a scenario that underpins the company's technology investments: An oncologist has to treat a wide variety of cancers using a growing number of treatment regimens. "By applying mathematics we can better understand and model the human biological system," McKenzie says. Amgen has vast clinical trial databases and thinks combining that data with real-world data from electronic health records, then applying mathematical models, may help caregivers predict how a patient will react to different treatments.

But getting to that scenario presents a huge challenge. "Our organizations were never constructed to operate in this new way," she says. "When I'm together with my peers at payer/providers, at service companies, at life sciences organizations, the No. 1 problem we all say we could work together to solve is the data interoperability issue."

In the meantime, she's also working on the company's internal operations, such as giving staff mobile access to key analytics — sales data for sales representatives, for instance. Another digital aspect of Amgen's enterprise is an iPad video chat application, which allows doctors to communicate with the appropriate Amgen experts when they have questions.

McKenzie says Amgen's internal operations are completely automated, but she estimates that the company is only 25 percent down the path to providing the staff with new digital tools, such as data analytics for salespeople. Meanwhile, Amgen has just started to work toward delivering the data-driven, personalized patient care scenario that is her end goal. The company began investing in that vision 18 months ago.

4. Unleashing Digital Logic

When he talks about the digital enterprise, Ray Voelker of Progressive Insurance starts with mobile technology. But that doesn't just mean smartphones and tablets. He also cites his company's Snapshot tool. A sensor device that plugs into a car's onboard diagnostic port, Snapshot automatically tracks how drivers drive, offering dynamic updates about how their driving habits affect their insurance rates and comparing them to their peers in its databases. It's the ultimate custom product, and more than 2 million Progressive customers have used it.

Creating Snapshot meant figuring out how to store and analyze the data it was going to feed into Progressive systems in real time. Pricing algorithms analyze the data on driving behavior to determine whether a discount is warranted.

 

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