Sat. Jan 22nd, 2022


Mike Maresca, International CTO for Walgreens Boots Alliance, talks about what retains him up at night time and why constructing inner and exterior partnerships is vital for digital transformation success.

How does IT assist healthcare corporations innovate rapidly, whereas additionally balancing affected person privateness and information safety? On this episode of TechRepublic’s
Dynamic Developer

, I am joined by Mike Maresca, International Chief Know-how Officer at Walgreens Boots Alliance, to seek out out.

Readers within the UK and US will doubtless acknowledge the Walgreens and Boots names, however WBA can also be dwelling to manufacturers like No7, NICE!, Cleaning soap & Glory, and Liz Earle. Mike and I had the prospect to speak about WBA’s digital transformation journey, information analytics, well being information privateness, and what retains him up at night time.

The next is a transcript of the interview, edited for readability. You possibly can hearken to the podcast utilizing the participant embedded beneath, watch the video above or learn a transcript of the interview beneath, edited for readability.

Digital transformation journey: Walgreens Boots Alliance

Invoice Detwiler: So we’re right here to speak about digital transformation, and I do not suppose during the last yr there’s any business that is needed to take care of digital transformation greater than healthcare, given the pandemic and every thing that is been taking place on account of that. I do know you had been new to Walgreens Boots Alliance and you’ve got a tech background at Accenture. So, I am actually occupied with your tackle digital transformation in an outdated business, being accelerated final yr. I am actually trying ahead to our dialog. And perhaps an incredible place to start out is since you had been somewhat little bit of an outsider with a tech background coming in to the healthcare business is…whenever you joined, the place was WBA of their digital transformation course of? Had they been doing it for a decade? Was it ongoing? The place had been they whenever you got here on board?

Mike Maresca, Global Chief Technology Officer at Walgreens Boots Alliance

Mike Maresca, International Chief Know-how Officer at Walgreens Boots Alliance

Picture: Walgreens Boots Alliance

Mike Maresca: Nicely, Invoice, thanks for having me. It is going to simply…sort of elaborate in your query about the place is WBA at within the digital transformation. However after I joined, it was in the midst of the pandemic, rather a lot had modified about our enterprise, however what hadn’t modified is our ardour for being actually the main associate to our communities, our sufferers, our clients, and attempting to reimagine what healthcare seems to be like and wellbeing total.

We launched concerning the time that I joined, a brand new customer-centric healthcare technique and we proceed to reimagine that. You’d’ve heard that introduced earlier this month, as a part of our investor day to drive sustainable long run sort of worth, and to be buyer obsessed as we digitalize our companies throughout retail pharmacy, and a rising enterprise inside well being companies. It’s kind of of a brand new focus on the time, but it surely very a lot maps again to what we’re obsessed about. And we’ve been obsessed about throughout each Walgreens, in addition to Boots, each iconic manufacturers, 170 years of innovation and pharmacy.

What we noticed throughout the pandemic is we needed to evolve and begin offering vaccine companies, testing companies. And I am proud to say that we had been very profitable at that. What we began originally of the pandemic, and we needed to reimagine among the buyer companies. We actually did make investments and ship. As an example, we now have an business finest buy-online and pickup in-store, one thing we did not have firstly of the pandemic. We rolled out tele-health companies as a result of we did not have our sufferers essentially visiting us in our pharmacies. In order that was about bringing our companies nearer to our clients. And that is the eagerness that introduced me to WBA and what retains me excited coming to work on daily basis, attempting to actually drive higher outcomes for our sufferers and clients.

Further digital sources

Constructing inner and exterior partnerships is vital to digital transformation success

Invoice Detwiler: I feel that is a very attention-grabbing perspective, and this is among the issues I really like speaking to CTOs about, since you strategy this from the expertise facet of the equation, however as you describe it, there’s a component of digital transformation that’s the human facet of the equation. So I might like to get your take as a CTO, as somebody that has an engineering background. And, I can cop to kind of figuring out with that myself again from my faculty days. How do you, as the pinnacle of expertise for the group, carry new applied sciences to bear whereas on the similar time, preserving that concentrate on the human facet of the enterprise?

Mike Maresca: It is a robust problem, but it surely’s actually one thing we’re very keen about at WBA. What does it imply for our clients? And we take into consideration that day in time out, and a part of the investments we’re making, for example, in cloud, which is about modernizing our core platform, is all about bringing an elevated agility on the proper price level, how we ship IT for our clients.

Walgreens in-store pickup

Picture: Walgreens Boots Alliance

Earlier this yr, or really final yr, about this time, we realized that if we had been going to drive extra capabilities, each digitally, but additionally in our shops, we would have liked a contemporary digital prepared community. Once more, preserving this buyer on the middle, we wished a extra immersive expertise, higher capabilities for our clients to ship companies that they want. I wanted a contemporary digital community to do this. So we invested in relationships right here within the US with Verizon, we’re transferring in the direction of community as a service. Completely reimagining how we ship community inside Walgreens. And we’re doing the identical factor with BT over in our worldwide areas within the UK and Eire. So that you do need to steadiness the expertise, however you even have to determine how is that delivering to your buyer and creating these connections and driving that expertise technique that continues to place our clients and sufferers on the middle is what my job is all about. And it is what I take pleasure in about it.

Invoice Detwiler: How tough is that argument to make, or is it even an argument in any respect anymore to government boards, to CEOs, to the CFOs, to the individuals which can be taking a look at, or perhaps have historically checked out IT as a value middle? However now perhaps see it as important to sustaining the optimistic buyer relationships, but additionally as a method to enhance operations, enhance efficiencies, as you speak…to enhance the worth level. Is that even one thing that you need to take into consideration now as CTO, whenever you go and also you say, Hey, look, I do know historically we have completed our networking a technique, however we need to do it one other method? And within the every thing as a service world, we predict that is the precise answer for us. If you make that pitch, even when you need to make that pitch, is that one thing that you simply get pushback on now, or does all people say no, that, that feels like that is the best way to go. That is the best way everybody’s going. We simply want to do this.

Should-read developer content material

Mike Maresca: No. Is there pushback? No, there’s partnership. I prefer to say, there’s partnership and with any good partnership with the enterprise and IT, you discover explanation why in choices. And on this case, specifically, we discuss networks. We noticed this as an funding sooner or later. As an example, we partnered with Verizon, we’re one of many first 5G powered pharmacies on the planet. So it was extra about how we leverage the ecosystem of partnerships to drive innovation. As a result of innovation does not occur throughout the 4 partitions at WBA, it is by way of this related set of partnerships. And I feel we’re actually enthusiastic about among the partnerships within the final yr that we have been capable of champion, whether or not or not it’s with Verizon and BT, from a community perspective. Actually Microsoft has been vital by way of driving our place cloud and a few capabilities round information and analytics.

Talking of information analytics, we’ve a brand new partnership with Snowflake, which helps us to carry insights from our information. And we only in the near past signed a take care of ServiceNow by way of leveraging their capabilities and their innovation to assist us reimagine IT, but additionally, among the buyer expertise. They perceive that innovation agenda must occur each inside IT, but additionally that strategic portfolio. Now, do {dollars} and cents come into play? Is it the precise funding on the proper time? Actually that dialogue occurs. And that is a part of the partnership that we’ve with the enterprise. Once more, as we attempt to evolve our choices and our capabilities for a way we serve our clients and sufferers.

SEE: IT chief’s information to attaining digital transformation (TechRepublic Premium)

Walgreens is leveraging tech to incentivize optimistic well being outcomes

Invoice Detwiler: You talked about a pair applied sciences. We had been speaking about community as a service. You are speaking about information analytics and among the companions you are working with round these applied sciences. Moreover these, what are among the new applied sciences that you simply’re most enthusiastic about and also you suppose are subsequent in your roadmap to enhance operations and that buyer expertise?

myWalgreens app screenshot

Picture: Walgreens Boots Alliance

Mike Maresca: One which I might put out there’s the investments we’re making round information and the way we will use information extra successfully inside Walgreens and WBA, usually. I feel that is going to be key to how we establish methods to higher serve our clients by way of preferences. I do not suppose there’s anyone higher than WBA by way of managing the privateness of our sufferers. So we do preserve that entrance of thoughts, however there are, by way of driving differentiated outcomes, partnering by way of our well being companies community to tug care administration gaps. I am very enthusiastic about how we will use information to drive higher outcomes. I feel that is one to level on the market and the investments in Microsoft, Snowflake and others are actually beginning to create that related information platform, analytics platform that’s going to drive these experiences ahead. It is also going to assist us rework internally.

We have now higher optics on our so provide chain, which is a problem as of late, as you already know. We have now higher optics on our financials and simply common higher operational metrics. In order that once more we will preserve our companies going on the proper prices and the precise effectiveness by way of higher metrics and information. In order that’s one I might put on the market.

The opposite one I sort of talked about, the work that we’re doing in digital, whether or not or not it’s tele-health companies, whether or not or not it’s the launch of myWalgreens, the relaunch of myWalgreens, that we simply did lately, the place it really began from a loyalty perspective, as a relaunch of our loyalty program. It additionally began mixing in themes of well being and wellness as a part of your loyalty expertise. I feel that is actually impactful when you can begin pondering extra than simply the patron expertise, however extra of the affected person expertise that is coming by way of that loyalty program. And we will sort of incent more healthy clients. So I might say these two, these two or three that I discussed I am actually enthusiastic about, and I feel you are going to see much more innovation come out of WBA within the subsequent yr. So it needs to be a superb yr for us.

Defending affected person privateness and information safety in at the moment’s complicated healthcare ecosystem

Invoice Detwiler: Let’s construct on that final level somewhat bit, as a result of a minimum of in america healthcare is a combination mash, proper? Of corporations and personal entities and public entities. And you’ve got conventional endpoint suppliers or factors of care. You’ve gotten GPs, you’ve got docs, you’ve got giant networks of hospitals, speedy care facilities. After which you’ve got what was the normal sort of pharmacies that perhaps individuals consider once they consider Walgreens, however that is not what WBA actually is anymore.

And also you sort of talked about this, since you are speaking about producing higher affected person outcomes and utilizing information analytics to assist drive that. However you are additionally a part of that bigger ecosystem of healthcare suppliers. How do you combine the info that you simply’re gathering about individuals and that you simply’re utilizing to assist them along with your a part of their healthcare course of with all these different completely different elements efficiently, in order that perhaps it is not simply the script information, it is not simply that affected person information, however that is shared again with docs, or that is shared with the hospital, or the interactions that the physician notes are shared with you. How do you do this as a part of that group, however do it in a method that does not compromise safety of the info, privateness of the info? But in addition all people is on first social gathering information now, so that you want some sharing, however you additionally want the rights to guard your IP. How do you steadiness that from an IT perspective or from a expertise perspective?

myWalgreens app health alerts screenshot

myWalgreens app well being alerts

Picture: Walgreens Boots Alliance

Mike Maresca: Nicely, initially, I can return to…privateness is high of thoughts. I feel we’re finest in school in that, so I am going to simply put that proper on the market.

When it comes to how we share information that is by affected person and buyer consent and their capacity to choose in to these applications. That’s an evolving house because the well being neighborhood will get extra related, once more, placing the client on the middle, however that’s being pushed by among the buyer consent. And we do not do something with out the client’s approval on that. We do have a rising community of partnerships. VillageMD is actually one in all them that we associate throughout, once more, with consent of sharing the info throughout that partnership and driving higher outcomes. There are care gaps. There are…actually when docs share information with us by way of filling prescriptions, that is all shared. I feel it is all about driving that final result for the affected person.

Invoice Detwiler: I am not attempting to place you on the spot by way of the privateness and safety. It is to me, as somebody who’s been in tech their complete lives, I see that interconnectivity as a optimistic and with the ability to, and truthfully, anymore being important to driving these optimistic outcomes. I had two aged family that I used to be their major care supplier for, and it may very well be a problem for me, for his or her numerous docs that they might see, the assorted pharmacies, typically they might go to, that they did not have an entire image. And in order that’s why I am all the time to listen to the roadmaps for organizations within the house round that, round this interoperability and with the ability to kind of persuade individuals, Hey, look, I do know we need to preserve this personal and we do, however you may get a greater end result in the event you’re prepared and we will show to you, it is higher to your well being to have all people sort of within the know.

So, I used to be pondering extra greater image. Is that one thing, these large image interconnections that you simply speak to different IT of us, different CTOs and leaders within the healthcare business and do you suppose simply usually that it feels like that is the best way usually, the business is pondering that we have to go and hopefully we will persuade individuals. Not persuade, however simply share with individuals, look, there’s optimistic outcomes from doing this and to assist overcome among the, perhaps the reluctance that I suppose sure segments of the inhabitants may need at that.

Mike Maresca: Yeah. There’s reluctance there. And I can simply level to, earlier this month, our new CEO, Roz Brewer, had talked about that buyer centric well being technique, and I am actual enthusiastic about that. It is going to delve into a few of these challenges that we see from an business perspective. How do you…so for example, essential companies which can be wanted, the way you have interaction the client, and definitely it will really begin to tackle the info and the privateness. So that’s one thing we’re nonetheless evolving, however I feel among the subsequent steps that we will be taking as a method will assist us determine that out. And it’s going to, as you talked about, it’s going to be an ecosystem of suppliers which can be going to play part of driving it holistically for the client.

Challenges going through at the moment’s CIOs: Attracting high expertise and maintaining with the pace of enterprise

Invoice Detwiler: I’ve to ask you as a CTO, I do know I am operating out of time with you, and this does not need to relate to WBA, however as a CTO proper now, what retains you up at night time? What are these challenges that you simply face that different CTOs are going through proper now? And the way are you addressing them?

Mike Maresca: A number of issues high of thoughts can be, maintaining with pace of our enterprise. The final 18 months we’ve seen dramatic change in accelerating how we use expertise to drive our enterprise ahead. That is required us to look externally in among the partnerships I discussed earlier, but additionally internally, how can we information? How can we develop? How can we make investments? As a result of it’s simply driving dramatic change and the aggressive panorama that is on the market. And the way can we sustain the pace of our enterprise as we glance internally, do I’ve the precise expertise? Expertise has been a premium these days, I feel it is not simply WBA, however each firm is taking a look at how they digitalize their companies and we’re no completely different, however I feel from an business perspective, and IT, is pushed a premium on expertise and a expertise is so vital by way of what we drive from a functionality perspective and the way we reimagine our future on daily basis.

So I feel it is that, it is the pace at which our enterprise even getting out entrance and attempting to drive it with some innovation concepts, but additionally the expertise that we’ve at WBA and the way we proceed to enhance upon it. We have now a unbelievable group, that was one of many joys of adjusting jobs. I left an incredible firm. I joined an incredible firm with an incredible group that delivered wonderful issues by way of the pandemic. I’ve solely been right here 15 months and I’ve come to understand the onerous work and dedication of our group members, each in IT, in addition to the enterprise. So, I am tremendous excited concerning the group that we’ve. We have to proceed to evolve it as a result of that is actually what our enterprise requires. However I might say on the expertise facet, that is one thing that we’re actual centered on, particularly as we discover a few of these new applied sciences.

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