I am so pleased to report on part I of a recent interview with William Compton, CIO and VP-Information Management for ConvaTec, a leader and marketer of medical technologies worldwide.
With Americans focusing on the universal healthcare debate in the United States, what an incredible opportunity to talk frankly with a CIO in the healthcare industry. Not only did we talk about William’s perspective on the impact of universal healthcare on IT, we addressed topics such as green IT, unified communications, and cloud computing impacting enterprises in all vertical industries.
As you read William’s point of view, I invite you to comment on the business challenges and IT concerns you deem most relevant to your enterprise in 2010.
Tell me about ConvaTec and how you leverage technology with your employees and customers, etc. ConvaTec is a leading developer and marketer of innovative medical technologies that have helped improve the lives of millions of people worldwide. We have four business divisions – Ostomy Care, Wound Therapeutics, Continence & Critical Care, and Infusion Devices -- and more than 8,000 employees worldwide. We’re headquartered in Skillman, NJ with major operations in the US, UK, and Switzerland. In general, we use technology to drive efficiencies within our business, including supply chain optimization, CRM and regulatory management. For our customers, this means better customer service throughout the supply chain, integrated customer data that allows us to tailor our message and higher quality products.
William, what are the unique business challenges at ConvaTec, both as a company, and within IT in particular? Our unique challenge in 2009 was the divestiture from our former parent company, Bristol Myers Squibb. As we became a standalone company, we needed to recreate many of the common business systems and IT processes that most companies take for granted. In the last 18 months, we’ve deployed a complete technology infrastructure, implemented SAP in 40 countries and rationalized our application portfolio from over 500 to just over 100. This enormous amount of change – not just for IT, but more importantly for our business users – was definitely a unique challenge. The good news for us was that we had the burning platform and alignment to make decisions quickly and take the appropriate risks. Without that, we would have never gotten it done.
How does the national movement to provide universal health care affect companies in this segment, and what leading role do you see IT providing? The health care debate is one of the more polarizing topics in America today. On one hand, more coverage for more patients should be a good thing. On the other hand, the amount of bureaucracy and administration in health care is also part of the problem and it’s hard to imagine government as an enabler of efficiency. Truth be told, I think we have a long way to go before whatever legislation gets passed comes to fruition in a meaningful way for most patients.
From an IT standpoint, a few things are on the horizon which could create change for manufacturers. The advent of the electronic health record (EHR) and personal health record (PHR) should drive data standardization. Similar to diagnosis codes, product codes, and treatment codes will need to be common across platforms. This could impact medical systems, billing systems, distribution systems, which all tie back to the manufacturer.
What do you think are the most pressing IT needs, and those that IT feels are most important to pursue in 2010? In 2010, we’ll be getting back to focusing on our business. We took a timeout from late 2008 and all of 2009 to work on our transition to a standalone company. Now, our priorities will swing fully back to customer facing IT – things like improving our ability to predict customer needs, helping our customers better understand their business and how we can work together to deliver better care, and providing differentiated support for our customers. We’ll also need to spend some time becoming operationally more efficient. While the economy seems to be making a slow recovery, it is always important to invest wisely, not just in IT, but across the entire business. Anything we can do to provide financial visibility and predictability is beneficial.
What's the one thing you wish non-IT people understood about the role of IT? That IT is really a steward of two things – company data and money. One of our primary goals is to make sure that the right information is in the right spot at the right time. If that’s taking an order, delivering a purchase order, or providing sales forecasts, right information at the right time. The gating factor is the financial investment. We try to make that information as available as possible at the right price point. The challenge is that when you constrain the resources, which you should to get the optimal return, you have to prioritize the work.
For more of William’s interview, visit seamlessenterprise.com next on February 1st.
About William Compton
William Compton is VP-Information Management and CIO for ConvaTec, a global leader in medical devices. His organization transformed ConvaTec after its divestiture from Bristol-Myers Squibb by implementing SAP, rolling out a global infrastructure, and reducing legacy applications by 70%.
William joined ConvaTec, a division of Bristol-Myers Squibb, in 2006. At the former parent company from 1998, he served as Director-Site Services-Americas and Director-Strategic Outsourcing. He holds a BS in Business and Information Systems from East Carolina University and a MBA from The College of William and Mary.