Business IT Architecture Series 2015 : Going beyond tech

This year’s Business IT Architecture Series (BITAS)  in KL, was unique for two main reasons. The first was because the Founder and CEO of the global association for all IT architect’s or IASA, Paul Preiss, was in town to keynote at the event. Also, the event was hosted by another industry; healthcare, or more specifically, the National Heart Institute (NHI).

Dr. Ariffin Marzuki Mokhtar, Director of Health Informatics at NHI, had described, “Enterprise architecture (EA) is a profession, and even though it exists within the domain of medicine, the principles of healthcare must be maintained – it should be safe, effective, patient-centred, efficient and equitable.”

IT architecture itself, was described by Paul Preiss as, “…a rich robust profession that impacts every one of you, whether you are a coder, a doctor or just someone on the street.”

To illustrate enterprise architecture or EA’s impact, he also gave the example of America’s home improvement retailer, Home Depot’s recent cybersecurity breach. “About 56 million credit cards’ details from Home Depot, were stolen because of a bad decisions on the retailers part. To me, that is bad enterprise architecture. Professionals are not so careless.”

This drives home what IASA’s Asia Pacific Chairman, Aaron Tan Dani commented later about business and technology in today’s current landscape. “Business cannot survive without IT, and IT has no place without business.”

The full-day event that was held at NHI premises, saw representatives from MAMPU, MDeC, Biotech Corp. and Gartner, presenting as speakers or panel discussion panellists, to a very interested audience from the public and private sector.

Future-proofing your business

Especially in recent times, businesses that do not utilise technology, run the risk of being left behind. But Preiss observed that for most businesses, the case is that, “We implement the technology, but we do not make the associated behaviour change.”

A wake up call for some IT practitioners, is that enterprise architecture isn’t about technology. Instead it is really about customers and how to change customers’ behaviour. Preiss said, “The idea ultimately, is to obtain profit for the business through technology investment.”

In other words, the IT practitioner has to train themselves to think in revenue objectives, for example, how to use technology, so that customers buy more in a safer way, and increase revenue for the business.

“How do we think about technology’s impact upon the customer’s behaviour with us and how they buy from us? This is what the enterprise architect should be thinking about on a regular basis,” Preiss also pointed out.

(L-R): Paul Preiss, Tan Chong's Kah Seng Ngai, Aaron Tan Dani, and Dr. Ariffin

(L-R): Paul Preiss, Tan Chong’s Kah Seng Ngai, Aaron Tan Dani, and Dr. Ariffin

This inadvertently has positive impact upon an organisation’s culture of innovation.

EA in a the healthcare domain

Dr. Ariffin opened his keynote with the admission that medicine is changing. “We have a pacemaker that’s talking to a modem on NHI. That’s beyond Star Trek, right?”

But as with other domains, IT is a means to an end, and enterprise architecture is viewed by the national heart institute, as a way of executing their strategy.

Former CEO of NHI and Head of Cardiology, Dr. Robaayah Zambahari had commented, “For us to remain a centre of excellence, we need a different way of doing things, and we feel that the strategic use of IT as a cornerstone, is the way.”

That required a transformation and EA office (EAO) to be set up, a separate organisation from NHI that was peopled by NHI staff like Dr. Ariffin. This was dubbed the Heart office @IJN (Institut Jantung Negara).

What followed was very intensive information collection phase about the end-to-end patient care process, and a very comprehensive processes architecture. Dr. Ariffin said, “Architecture is just 10-percent of the whole thing. Ninety-percent is the human element of engaging and changing mindsets of the people.

We could not work in siloes, we had to cut across it.”

An implementation committee was also set up, headed by the current CEO, and attended by the COO and hospital senior management committee.

“In 2009, we THOUGHT we were doing so well in terms of our business modelling, “Dr. Ariffin also said, implying that they have since discovered, it was otherwise.

Since embarking upon this project over two years ago, NHI is discovering and executing for itself, a people- and process-centric information architecture strategy, towards delivering safe and high-quality patient care.

Their objective is to be a centre of excellence in cardiovascular and thoracic care by 2020.

A real –life conundrum

The Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia (IRB) is another organisation that recognises the demands of a digital era, and this time for mobility and streamlined reporting.

During a question and answer session, IRB’s IT Director, Mariam Bt. Mohd shared, “The take up rate for online tax submissions is going well, but our other capabilities are not seamless.”

She also shared that trying to integrate different systems, maintaining it, and adding new technology was “painful.”

“If we keep doing things this way, we can’t sustain with the manpower we have.”

The case for enterprise architecture in this situation is strong, and Aaron Tan Dani recommended that the first step for IRB to take is collection of information and documentation from the business itself.

“This way you can have an idea whether to migrate away from or keep your existing equipment. Vendors’ are the last party to approach in the whole process,” he emphasised.







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