Yes you can: encouraging girls to pursue IT careers

Last week I spoke with high school and college age women about the Journey to a Successful Career in Information Technology. I gave the keynote at an event jointly sponsored by the Student Resource and Women’s Center and Career Services at Washtenaw Community College. The event was part of their women in non-traditional careers series. It was fun to do – having a chance to encourage and inspire the next generation of information technology professionals.  And it was great to see some familiar faces in the audience – a number of women from our IT team decided to attend as well.

I started my talk by profiling real women in real IT jobs today – 8 women from our IT team.  Their positions include service desk, business analyst, programmer, database administrator, data architect, project manager, training manager, and infrastructure manager. I described what they do in a typical day and the skills they need in each position. One comment overheard after the talk: “This is exactly what these girls need – to see that women can and do work in IT.  Then they can picture themselves doing it, too.” Continue reading

Creating a security culture

I wrote recently that if the CIO is the only one worrying about the EHR implementation, it’s a problem. Likewise, if the CIO and the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) are the only ones thinking about IT security, it’s a problem.  You only have to read the news any given week to see the rising number of breaches within health care – the recent Anthem breach being the biggest to date with over 80 million records involved.  And there is a new breach we are all hearing about as of this week – Premera Blue Cross potentially involving financial and medical records of up to 11 million customers.

IT security is a common topic amongst health care CIOs these days. We are continually trying to learn from one another and share best practices.

I recently had a third party IT security assessment done for our health system in order to identify key gaps and get recommendations to strengthen our IT security program. One of the best pieces in the final report was about creating a security culture. So what’s a security culture?

Signs an organization has developed a security culture include the following: Continue reading

Surfacing problems, prototyping solutions

According to Wikipedia, “a hackathon (also known as a hack day, hackfest or codefest) is an event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development, including graphic designers, interface designers and project managers, collaborate intensively on software projects”. Hackathons are a great way to surface problems and prototype solutions in a short time period.  I just participated in my first hackathon and what an eye-opener it was.

Last week, four different IT groups participated in “Hacks with Friends”: central campus, school of medicine, school of dentistry, and the hospitals and health centers.  It was a grassroots event organized by staff. It was great to see such talent and creative energy in one room.

Every available surface was used to brainstorm and organize ideas.

For two days, over 100 participants in 20 teams worked to develop projects in 3 categories  – gamification, collaboration, and play (which turned out to be the catch-all category for a problem you wanted to explore or experiment with). Projects could be either externally focused on our customers or internally focused on improving processes for technical staff. Many teams included members from the multiple IT groups solving common problems.

Each team was to develop a minimally viable product (MVP). An MVP is a simple way to address a problem that adds value, is demonstrable. An MVP can be an improved process, a new way of doing things, or an old tool applied in a new way.

Poster presentation proposing FitBit integration with UM’s wellness app.

Each team had to create a winning presentation in three stages. First they needed to create an elevator description of the project, including problem statement, solution and differentiators. Then, they needed a five minute poster presentation. If chosen as a finalist, the team needed to prepare a seven minute demonstration of their product.

To succeed, the team needed to understand the strengths of their team members and welcome a broad range of experiences into the team. Best ideas come from co-design. A great reminder that hackathons are not just for people who can code!

Laura Patterson, the UM CIO, Ted Hanss, the Medical School CIO, and I were the judges. We applied these criteria:

  • Fit to category – how well does the project fit the selected category?
  • Feasibility – would this work in the real world?
  • Completeness – how far did the team get in the allotted time?
  • Documentation – did the team document what they learned?

The winning team, “Magic Mirror,” hard at work.

The products proposed were creative and exciting.  Some examples:

World of Workcraft – a game to track what we are learning everyday – books, articles, courses, conferences.

Active You – integrating FitBit with the ActiveU mobile app. I think a high percentage of the 11,870 participants in this UM employee wellness program would love this!

Rundeck – a way to automate system administrator tasks using the Rundeck tool.

The winner of the Hacks with Friends event was Magic Mirror – putting student photos in their profiles in the new learning system to help faculty get to know students and students get to know one another. The runner-up was Go Phish – an interactive training tool to help people recognize phishing email leveraging gaming technology.

The coveted “golden hard drive” trophy.

But from another perspective, Activity in Motion (AIM) was the winner for me.  This was a team led by Sally Pollock, Manager of IT Service Management from my IT department, that developed a multi-platform application to capture and centralize major incident activity real-time.  Benefits include: providing real-time information, minimizing distractions during the major incident call, minimizing the duration of the major incident, capturing a list of participants, making activity highly visible and storing it in a database, where it can be used for reporting and the post incident review process.

The team’s presentation helped me realize the current state of managing major incidents and how a simple app like this could improve the process. I jumped on it.  I asked the team to present to my leadership group meeting on Wednesday and we gave directional support for this solution. They will come back in a month with recommendations on how to fit this solution into our current major incident process.

A great example of how a hackathon opened one leader’s eyes to a problem that needed to be solved.

Great techspectations for the inpatient experience

Everywhere you turn technology makes our lives easier. Yet we take it for granted – until it’s not there.

I spent the holiday week in Boston with family. I observed every day, commonplace technology in my travels, our hotel stay, shopping, eating out, and more. We booked our airline tickets online. We check-in online or at an airport kiosk. We pass through security and find our current gate info on large screens conveniently located. Barely any human contact except when the flight attendant checks our seat belts and offers us pretzels and a drink. The safety information is a video and when we arrive we find the right baggage carrousel on another large screen. Continue reading

Women and technology, part 2

I had the chance to deliver the opening keynote talk at the NG HealthCare US Summit two weeks ago. I was to fit a 20 minute talk between the salad and the entree at a dinner. The summit organizers said I could talk about whatever topic I wanted; I just had to be inspiring.

I titled my talk: “Our Future Workforce – Unlocking the Potential”. As I posed the problem in a recent post “Technology, where are all the women?,” I talked about the fact that not enough women are going into STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. I have been particularly concerned with the drop in women entering computer related fields.

Why does this problem exist, what are some of the programs that are helping address it, and what can IT leaders do about it?

The IT leadership conference where I was speaking was about 75-80% men, so I thought there might be a risk with this angle on the future workforce. I am happy to say the talk was very well received.

Afterwards, men talked to me about their daughters – whether they are in college studying in a STEM field or in grade school interested in computers and robots. Women told me about their own Continue reading

Consumers expect game-changing technology

It’s a game-changer if it has the potential to change the outcomes. We often see how new technology creates a big shift in the market.

Uber car service has been taking hold in large cities over the past few years. It’s even come to Ann Arbor. Is it a game-changer in local transportation? Looks like it. I know there is plenty of controversy right now about Uber and their business practices but you have to admit they have figured out how to leverage GPS technology and mobile devices in new ways. I experienced this first hand recently when I used an Uber to get to the airport. No question it was easy and convenient.

And that’s what consumers look for in the products and services they buy: easy, reliable, convenient, and low cost. We all love that one-click purchasing on Amazon: buy a book and it immediately downloads to our Kindle readers – a game-changer in the book business!

We, health care IT leaders, are sometimes criticized for Continue reading

Technology, where are all the women?

I have been hesitant to talk about women’s issues here, but I’ve been encouraged to do so by many women colleagues. They tell me I have a platform, so use it!  Young women tell me that I, a female CIO, am a role model and that they want to learn from me.18Percent

I’ll be doing an opening dinner keynote talk soon at an invitation only health IT conference. I plan to talk about unlocking the potential of our future workforce. So, what does that mean? Among other steps, we need to encourage more women to pursue careers in technology.

Here are some troubling statistics and trends: Continue reading