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Kathleen Brunner: What Is the Cost of Not Being Digitally Smart?

 

Introduction (00:02):

Welcome to Forging Connections, a podcast from Honeywell about the convergence of IT and operational technology for industrial companies. We’ll talk about the future of productivity, sustainability, safety and cybersecurity. Let’s get connected.

Michelle Dawn Mooney (00:20):

Hi and welcome to the Honeywell Forging Connections podcast brought to you by Sparta Systems, a Honeywell company. I’m your host, Michelle Dawn Mooney, and we are happy to have you join us for another installment of a very special series entitled: Shaping the Future of Quality, where we follow the path of thought leadership and how it can lead to exclusive ideas, strategies and, most importantly, execution. So, we are focusing on real-world stories, innovations and trends that impact life sciences and spark transformation that allow us to develop a forward-looking, quality culture together. So, let’s get connected. I am very happy to bring on our guest today. Kathleen Brunner is the president and CEO at Acumen Analytics. Kathleen, thanks so much for joining us.

Kathleen Brunner (01:05):

Thanks so much for having me. I’m really excited today, Michelle.

Mooney (01:08):

We are very excited about this conversation. So, let’s start off with just having you tell us a little bit about yourself and your history and working with Acumen, as well as a couple other things on your resume that you’d like to share.

Brunner (01:22):

Sure. So, I’m very fortunate to be with Acumen as president and founder and CEO. We’ve been in business now going on 18 years. I’ve really always loved numbers and, and technology, and I’m really an idea person. So, when someone says that it can’t be done or there’s a challenge or a problem we can’t solve— that’s the first thing that I really want to take on and find out “what is the problem”? And then what is it that we do know, what are we lacking in information? What don’t we know? And then where do we go to find out how to solve the problem? I’m really more focused on problem solving, not just problem identification. The key there is making sure that we figure out how to get the right information to the right people to make the right decisions when they need to make the decision, not post decision timeframe. And that’s where data comes in to play a key role.

Mooney (02:28):

And what a great spin to want to solve problems, because we’re always going to have those problems, but without the problem solvers, we’re not getting very far. So, let’s jump right into it. We are talking about data, and we are inundated with information—where do we get that information from data? So, let’s give a little background if you can, with just how much data is out there, how much data  companies are potentially dealing with on a regular basis, and then how are they able to navigate through it all?

Brunner (02:56):

It’s the cliche phrase now, right? Data is everywhere. Everything that we have, things that we wear, things that we buy, things that we drive, products that help improve our lives—including those products that come out of the life sciences space—all create some form of data. And right now, companies are inundated with data, and the key is smart data. So not just data and the volume of data that we have, but having data that’s effective, efficient, formatted in a way that it can be acted upon and used for decision making and leveraged in order to improve outcomes. And, in our particular case, our company, Acumen, is focused on patient outcomes. It’s about everything that we do. And so I think that’s the key for companies to begin to understand: where is it coming from and how do they harness it for improvement.

Mooney (03:55):

With so much data out there, as we talked about, how can businesses collect the right data and do it efficiently?

Brunner (04:03):

It’s a great question. And there’s no one answer. There’s not a one size fits all solution. Every business, every customer, every patient has a somewhat unique—and I’ll use the term personalized—need for a solution that fits them. It’s the whole concept behind personalized and precision medicine. But the key here is that when I talk about smart data, I’m talking about the ability to use advanced analytics and the power of data and technology. And it’s no longer a nice to have; it’s really a differentiator, and it’s a transformational capability that organizations can leverage. Whether for reducing cost, improving outcomes, accelerating their ability to make decisions, and getting patient products to market faster, safer. Also, quite frankly, even addressing things like we all know about now, post pandemic, supply chain issues, everything that we can do with data to improve outcomes is really the key here.

Mooney (05:11):

And let’s talk about the flip side. So what happens when data is poorly collected, poorly utilized. If you’ve got bad data, you’re making bad decisions and there’s cost involved… what are companies looking at there?

Brunner (05:25):

So, the key things with regard to all of that are data quality, data integrity, and cost. So, data quality just means that the way that your data is being acquired is in a manner that’s usable. Data integrity is more about whether the data that you’re collecting is clean. Is it usable? Is it in the format that you can leverage in order to make better decisions? And then when we talk about the cost, cost in these different areas can be the hard dollar cost to get reported on financial statements where you understand the cost of rework and the cost of acquiring systems and applications, and there’s things like technical debt, which is where you may have legacy applications that are not optimized. And you’ve got change that you need to make in your technology, but it’s not yet in need, but where I think it really hides and the opportunity that businesses can really let’s say, get…where do we get started? So, taking a look at those areas where it’s hidden—like I said, siloed systems, data repositories that don’t communicate manual processes—taking a look at a way to optimize, not all at once, but start small and take a look at where you can begin. This is the key to the entire topic of digital transformation and all those 4.0s—life sciences 4.0, manufacturing 4.0, factory 4.0—it’s all about transformation. It’s about collaboration, and it’s about accelerating better patient outcomes. And it’s all through innovation. And that’s really the lifeblood of what it is that we do here at Acumen for our customers.

Mooney (07:21):

The good news is we’re seeing a lot of businesses going through growth spurts, which is wonderful. So, they’re having mergers and acquisitions, but let’s hit on something that’s really important to keep in mind when you have a lot of systems that may be coming into play: How important is it for those systems to then be harmonized?

Brunner (07:38):

Right? You know, you cannot talk about that enough, because, as I said, siloed systems can be a real money pit where you just have data that’s unavailable, or that you need to recreate data, or you have to massage data to transform it into a usable format. Like I said, for reporting advanced analytics, all those key decision-making capabilities. And I think the key to success is understanding where and which technology is relevant and then make your decision on investing. And for me, ultimately that lens is what it means to the patient. Again, our efforts here at Acumen are always focused on improving patient outcomes. But looking at where to improve with regard to wasted efforts and resources, impeding organizational success and removing those barriers, and ultimately impacting the patient outcomes.

Mooney (08:35):

So, Kathleen, we’re talking about changes; we’re talking about how to find solutions. But when people are making changes, there is usually risk involved. So, how much risk is associated with making changes necessary to better optimize data outcomes?

Brunner (08:51):

Yes. So again, a key component in decision making about which systems and processes you’re going to target first. Second, risk management is critical in both cost containment, as well as good planning and about being future ready. So, it’s about how we can transform and make technology not the driver, but rather the enabler. So, making it part of the portfolios of solutions that you leverage as a tool—just like in manufacturing, if you were to use a machine of some sort—technology is a tool. Mitigating risk around the transformation of technology really has to be a planned process. And I think a key is a blended solution. Again, I said a little earlier, not a one size fits all solution. And what that means is meeting customers where they are. We’re going to continue to see these blends of on-premises solutions, cloud solutions, and modern mixes. And we need to be able to meet the needs by providing partners we partner with and collaborating with customers so that we tailor the solutions to meet their needs at the time that they need them. Thus, mitigating risks, having implemented strategies, and plans, and processes in place so that it’s a navigation across a journey rather than a point in time solution. And that’s where it becomes future ready, future proof and really crafting a resilient solution.

Mooney (10:31):

So, speaking of journeys, we’re talking about companies trying to maybe overhaul, maybe they’re minor changes, big changes, but what is the probability that even small moves, when you’re starting out, how much can those baby steps make a difference?

Brunner (10:48):

I would say that that is probably one of the key points that I would try and drive home with everyone. It is most impactful to take small, well-thought-out steps to create impactful wins. Taking a look across the organization, to go back to your point earlier, harmonization—are we harmonized? Can we collaborate across business units? Can our data and people communicate effectively, where are the roadblocks? If I save 15 minutes, across 30 people, across 30 days, out of every month, times 12 months… that small 15-minute improvement in the process—by leveraging technology or taking a data solution and perhaps looking into predicting things like a maintenance issue and reducing those things, or just eliminating them—15 minutes adds up. Whereas when you try and bite off something massive, it almost becomes paralysis by analysis, and you just never get started. I think the key is taking the first step, because it’s a journey, so it’s going to evolve, and you’re going to shift. A year and a half ago, who would’ve thought that we would be thinking about the things that we’re thinking about today with this speed at which we’re leveraging technology embedded in things like wearables and robotics. So, it’s about getting started.

Mooney (12:21):

It’s a process, definitely a process. Any final thoughts as we’re wrapping up here, Kathleen?

Brunner (12:27):

I think the key for me is that listening carefully to the customer—and that doesn’t necessarily mean the customer who is the entity or the organization but the user—the person who’s trying… what is it, the big pie in the sky? “I wish” … forget all things that would contain that “I wish”. What do I wish that I could do that would make my job easier, or faster, or better, or, again, with quality, do it right the first time and hearing the answer to those questions. Sometimes it’s not a big solution. It’s more about, oh, let’s just pull together again. Like I said, collaboration, and then what is the problem or challenge we’re trying to solve? Who can we pull together? What is it that seems insurmountable? And again, just kind of brainstorm, and think outside the box and almost always there’s a path, there’s a solution, and more and more today it’s leveraging data to come up with that solution.

Mooney (13:34):

Love hearing that word again: solutions. Solutions are great. Kathleen Brunner, president and CEO at Acumen Analytics. Kathleen, thank you so much for joining me.

Brunner (13:43):

Great. Thank you so much for having me. I really enjoyed the show today, Michelle.

Mooney (13:47):

Great conversation. And once again, not only putting out information to be daunting and overwhelming to companies but putting out information so that we can identify those problems and, more importantly, get solutions, which everybody wants to hear those solutions. I want to thank all of you for joining us today for the Honeywell Forging Connections podcast. This has been a special podcast series by Sparta Systems, a Honeywell company entitled, Shaping the Future of Quality, a great series. If you’d like to find out more podcasts, you can of course, subscribe to the Honeywell Forging Connections podcast. And if you’d like to find out any information about Honeywell, you can go to honeywell.com. I’m your host, Michelle Dawn Moony. Thanks so much for joining us today. We will see you soon.

Conclusion (14:33):

This has been Forging Connections, a podcast from Honeywell. You can follow Honeywell Forge on LinkedIn and download new episodes from our website: Honeywellforge.ai. Thanks for listening.

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