All posts tagged Data

The right questions…

First published in HIMSS UK in November 2016.

Answers to questions can change the world, of course they can! When I fly I so rarely check a suit-case in that I had forgotten the words that you are asked before every flight until this year’s summer holiday. Did you pack this case yourself, are any of these (dramatic wave over picture) items in the case, could this case have been tampered with?

Western, male, childish human behaviour always, always makes me want to answer different to how the desk operator expects at this point, but I don’t, I behave and move along the line. But this summer holiday season these questions did get me thinking about the parallels to healthcare. Are the questions the right questions, are they based on enough background information, are they asked at the right time and does anyone really consider what the answer could be?

In Ireland we have three projects known as Light House projects, specific disease areas of focus where we have applied investment that has delivered learning and solutions for the healthcare system. Interesting in the context of question asking in particular is the Bipolar Light House project; one of its early deliverables is a solution that allows the person suffering with the disorder to record their feelings daily. In time and with the patient’s awareness the questions will be prompted by other data, for example has the person been outside today, exercised, and interacted with others. The question and the context of the question is just as important as the answer in these circumstance! And yet current ‘best practice’ is to ask at each consultation, how have you felt over the last month?

And to match the current best practice we also have human nature, where the obvious answer in Ireland in particular is, ‘Grand, thanks’.

Cause no fuss, almost regardless of disease type is the patient ethos when it comes to the sharing of information, and perhaps even more so in complex mental health areas. If a patient wants to share information then it is our role, maybe even our main reason for being in the digital health industry in the future to enable this to happen.

Are the questions the right questions to ask, clinical practice knows because of the wealth of knowledge that clinicians have what the right questions are and how they need to be asked. This is fundamentally why we need clinicians involved in the design, build and test of every system deployed into our healthcare system. Seeking clinical support from the design phase onwards is not a simple task though, design comes with personal perspective and opinion and therefore getting to a point of consensus is always going to be difficult. Maybe then the arbitration vote on the design of an information system that is asking questions should be the patient, to truly deliver contextualised care where the right questions drive a type of care that is infinitely safer, more efficient and makes the care delivery feel like the fast lane for baggage check in and the first class lounge at the airport!

Questions in health need to be based on enough background information to make a difference to the care that the patient is going to receive in a short space of time in the initial consultation. Systems need to inspire the right question.

The airport questions have to be asked at the right time, in health we need to consider are our questions asked at the right time and by the right people. One of the most common perceived benefits to an EHR in an acute hospital is to remove the need to keep asking the patient the same questions over and over again, not just because, lets face it, it doesn’t instil confidence in the patient or the delivery of care but because it is simply inefficient and unsafe. But really an EHR in an acute hospital can do so much more than fix this issue when it comes to asking the right questions.

As Ireland prepares to go live with it’s first EHR in the maternity hospitals of the country we can see a huge enthusiasm amongst clinicians because the system is going to prompt them, based on data, to ask questions against early warning algorithms. The questions will be prompted because the patient is at the centre of a new type of ‘network’ where devices that measure are plugged into data and where the two spheres of influence, the measure and the data, can come together to inform the intelligence of the clinicians so much more than simple observational charts allow us to do today. That’s is why we, the health technologists, got into this business really, the connectivity of technology that allows us to create an Internet of Things that has the patient at the centre, maybe a new name for IoT in health, the Internet of the Patient, IotP!

If you did decide to answer the airport questions differently to the expected answer what would happen? I would hazard a guess a serious double take would be the first thing as the clerk behind the desk has probably never had anyone answer in any way other than to confirm the answers they expected to hear.

But when formulating the questions does anyone really consider what the answer could be? Imagine if a patient answered differently to expected, how much would it throw the care process. In 2006 I was seriously ill in hospital, no one knew why, no matter what questions were asked the team couldn’t get to bottom of it, so they put me in ICU and wired me up to every possible machine, turned down the lights and observed, when the questions fail observation and time are the only keys to unveiling the true nature of disease and illness. Questions answered can come from so many different quarters, in my case the fact I had travelled overseas was the key to unlocking what was wrong, but that took a more casual conversation than how are you feeling and could only be got to once I was stabilised. Somehow the ability to unlock that information needs to be a new focus for health if we are to deliver contextualised care. However the care that needs to be taken in unlocking the data and delivering it to the clinician needs to be significant, as Frank Buytendijk, a Gartner researcher has been describing for several years this could be considered to be ‘crossing the scary line’. The impact on care that data can have is phenomenal, but, two key actions need to be considered, firstly can the clinician handle the volume of data and second what privacy elements is the patient willing to give up to enable the clinician to have this information.

Imagine if we could give an answer that could cause a different question to be formulated! In so many other sectors digital information has already enabled business disruption to occur. If we can get to the point in health care where the question of the patient could actually move from how have you been for the last month to one where the clinician and patient already have the core data shared between them, the conversation can then move away from how to why and then to prevention. A clinician recently told me that the outpatient appoint for him, a psychiatrist, was as much a reminder to review the notes of key patients as it was an actual face to face appointment, with the right systems delivering the right information to all parties then that can become a shared responsibility and the mantra from the UK of no decision about me without me can be taken up even more strongly.

Next time I check a bag in at the airport I think I will have a little more time for the person asking the question, really they have an important job to do in simply asking the most simple of questions.


eHealth Eco-System – From a different perspective…

The eHealth Ireland Eco-System was a year old last week, a great achievement for the team to go from the germ of an idea to the formation of a self-supporting Eco-System that has seen the meeting of many ideas and organisations that have been able to be another hand on the tiller, steering the eHealth Ireland agenda.

As part of the birthday celebration meeting we have invited a different keynote speaker from a background outside of health, Niall Harbison, founder of Lovin’ Dublin, inspired the audience with his vision for an integrated Health system. Niall opened his presentation with a slide stating “The world is changing so fast” he brought the audience through a whistle stop tour of what it means to be in Social and Digital Media today in 2016 with a great emphasis on being mobile first.

Niall told us that over 90% of traffic is now via mobile. He spoke strongly on the importance of engaging with our stakeholders through different social media platforms such and commended us on our use of Twitter Hours and our transparency agenda for developing relationships.

Niall spoke about how we all need to be content masters. It’s up to all of us to inform our stakeholders in a way that interests them about what we are doing. It was refreshing to hear Niall speak about what he believed would be the future of health. He spoke about what it was like to not be clinically informed but that he would like to be able to see a future with telemedicine, where he can see a doctor when it suited him, where it suited him and be able to get his prescription sent to him electronically. Niall spoke about how he had great respect for all involved in health and their movement to digital.

He spoke about Apple and how even they, being a multi billion dollar innovation dynasty, have difficulties in mastering this market. The fact that we are trying to digitize something so large and disparate is a challenge and how its often much easier to start with nothing, he likened it to “herding cats”.

This is why he believed that the health innovations would actually emerge from countries where there is nothing currently there. Where they can adopt technologies and build new solutionsquicker. He also pointed to the fact that we can’t believe our stakeholders don’t want or expect this service or will not be able to use it and spoke of the quick adoption by taxi drivers of technologies such as UBER and Hailo and how people would have presumed that taxi drivers would never have adopted that technology

Niall spoke about where health was and asked us to consider what it would be like to pitch Health delivery as it is today in Ireland to Warren Buffet as a business idea, what investment did we think we would secure. If we can’t secure the idea of delivering health as it is done today then just maybe the answer could be a digital revolution was the noise left ringing in many peoples ears.

Niall finished on reiterating his first slide “The world is changing so fast. When will it happen to health?” and an inspirational quote from Michael Jordan;

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed”

When experts from a wider digital field listen and speak to health audiences it always brings a refreshing and different challenge to what we think and do. Imagine being able to reform health at the speed of an organisation like Lovin’ Dublin has been able to form and become a house hold name. All through my own career I have pushed hard to ensure that we can learn as much as possible from other business arenas in health, after all the facts and figures from various studies point to health globally being way behind other businesses so there is clearly going to be something new to learn.

The eHealth Ireland agenda is not unique, but, it is now moving at a rate that requires a different type of support to see it succeed, one straight out of the innovation and new thinking kit back. In the words of Bob Wachter at a recent Kings Fund event,

The purpose of digitisation is not to digitise, but to improve quality, safety, efficiency and the patient experience of healthcare.

With that ringing in our ears we are ready for the next year!

Starting something new…

In February 2015, our new CIO Richard Corbridge asked me if I would take on the challenge of leading our drive to build Projects, Programme & Portfolio Management (PPPM) division, within what would become the new Operating Model for the freshly renamed Office of the CIO.

After our conversation, it took me all of 5 minutes to get into the mind-set of transformation, and before going home that evening, I’d already begun to jot down ideas – a lot of which are still current, although thankfully in a much more refined way (I like to think!) In fact I got into the new role so quickly, I’m not 100% sure that I ever properly got back to our CIO to say “Yes”!

Anyway, since then it’s been a spring and summer of increasingly frenetic – yet focussed – activity, as the Office of the CIO went through its transition to the new structures described within its Knowledge & Information plan. During that time, plans have been put in place, communicated, refined, and executed, all while keeping the show safely on the road.

For me it’s a time of great optimism, and I’ve been really impressed with the open-mindedness and enthusiasm which I’ve encountered during my engagements with our existing projects staff. That’s not to say there’s no scepticism within our organisation towards what we’re trying to achieve– but even that scepticism should be viewed as healthy and positive. We can’t all be wide-eyed optimists; there needs to be a balance of naivety and experience, and together those two traits can push us through the bigger challenges ahead – transforming how we work, how we ensure the benefits are fully realised, and how we measure ourselves.

I’ve used the corny phrase “the department of change” a couple of times to describe, in part, my vision of this new PPPM organisation; corny it might be, but it really is how I see it.

Our challenge is not only about ensuring that our projects are properly planned, scoped, resourced, and that they fit the strategic, tactical or operational needs of our organisation. Neither is it only that our programmes have a vision, a direction; an end state to reach. In fact, it’s all of those, and much more.

Above all else, for me, this challenge is about ensuring that the investment made by the Health Service in modern technology will deliver the value, the return – the Change – that we all know is necessary to transform the capability of the Irish Health services.

Reflections on eHealth Summit 15.

12 months ago at the inaugural eHealthSummit in Croke Park in Dublin, I was asked to speak at the Locknote panel on the challenges for eHealth and the Implementation of the eHealth Strategy in the next 12 months. Top of my wish list for enabling the eHealth Strategy was the implementation and availability of the IHI and IHPI for use in Ireland. I outlined that it was the single biggest barrier to enabling the eHealth strategy to be fully realised. I was delighted to sit as part of the attendees at this year’s conference to hear that the IHI system had gone live and that the HSE had a seeded database of individual health identifiers for every patient in Ireland.

On reflection on the last 12 months since the first eHealthSummit was held, I believe that a phenomenal amount of progress has been made in the area of eHealth in Ireland. The establishment of eHealth Ireland along with the publishing of the Knowledge and Information Plan giving us a roadmap for the next 5 years is exactly the type of progress that I felt was needed in order for us to achieve the goals of the eHealth Strategy. There is real enthusiasm and a renewed energy in the industry as a result of the transformation that is happening in the HSE. There is significantly more involvement from industry and academia in the plans for the future. There were several examples at this year’s conference of the really good work being done both in Ireland and other European countries such as Scotland, Finland. The implementation of the EHR in Temple Street University Hospital along with the National Rollout of electronic Referrals across Ireland along with the availability of dates for when all hospitals will go live with electronic referrals before March of 2016 show that real progress is being made.

There was much discussion from the floor and observations from clinicans that there is a real and practical need to enabling the sharing of information across the Health service and to utilise what’s currently available both within the Health service and from industry partners. It was acknowledge by Ciaran Ryan of the ICGP that GP’s have very good systems and electronic patient records in their practice and that they would love to see further sharing of and access to information across the Healthcare industry in Ireland. The inclusion of the National Healthlink Project as part of the future IT Architecture vision in the Knowledge and Information plan shows a real commitment on behalf of eHealth Ireland not to rip and replace systems that are performing very beneficial services but to utilise and expand them to meet the future needs.

Reflecting on the years progress both from the standpoint of the National Healthlink Project and from the eHealth industry in Ireland, I feel we are positioned in a much stronger place with some of the key enablers now in place for significant movement in the right direction in the coming year. I look forward with renewed enthusiasm to reflecting on even more progress between now and eHealthSummit16 as part of the Senior Management Team of the Office of the Chief Information Officer as I begin my journey on enabling the Access to Information function as outlined in the Knowledge and Information Plan.

I hope that Dougie Beaton, and the rest of this years Locknote panel get their “Dear Santa’s wish list” and can reflect on similar progress in the next 12 months.


Open Data for a new Healthcare IT System

To be able to start an evolution is quite an exciting prospect. In my last role (Clinical Research in the NHS) we knew we had to move to an environment where data was considered to be open due to policy, legislation and for the transparency that the industry wanted to achieve. Here in Ireland there is a move from a legislative point of view to open data however the value of a truly open data environment is only just beginning to really catch on.

I still hold with the fact that open data benefits patients, if a patient wants to be able to get at their own information they absolutely should be able to. Getting there is fraught with risk to any delivery project though. Access controls are not easy to implement, data ‘ownership’ needs to be resolved and the method of access needs to be considered. However all of these elements that we must find a solution to in Ireland if we are to move to a situation where we can share digital clinical records!

The value of open data to the patient though in a world where the internet of things is becoming a permanent feature and the wearable healthcare device more and more prevalent is significant. We are trying to imagine a world where the patient is able to apply their own self recorded information to their record so why would we not consider that the patient should be able to take the information the health service has about them and apply this to their own health and wellbeing tools.

A colleague came to see me recently about a new projects and we got on to the subject of wearables, her partner had been given a Fitbit for his 45th birthday, he had started running and competing with a couple of his colleagues, the gamification of health and wellbeing in true action. However she was quite worried as this chap had gone from a standing start to running 5k plus 4 times a week, no health checks just a competition with his colleagues. If we had open data for this chap could he apply his clinical information to his Fitbit type record and get some analytics based advice on how much he should run, how quick and how frequently rather than simply turning his health into a competition that could have dire consequences.

Open data that is aggregate information, that doesn’t identify the patient, but can be used to analyse the health delivery of a country is also of huge potential. Two areas spring to mind, the ability to support new innovations in the analytical space where the delivery function has information is a rich vein that Ireland ought to be able to tap into in the same way as the NHS has done. By providing information in an open and transparent manner new fast thinking and bright organisations will be able to do way more with the data than the large health care providers can, and this will add to the delivery capability of health and improve the Intellectual Property of the nation, truly health and wealth.

The other area we are looking into is anonymised patient experience data. Not just social media although symptom analysis of Twitter for some hospitals is really beginning to deliver benefits. More simply a tool known as ‘Happy or Not’ is being piloted in the Irish healthcare system. It is a simple solution in that a patient can tap the happy or unhappy face on a unit in prominent parts of a major hospital. This data can then openly be made available to the public and the healthcare system to enable the diagnosis of difficult times in hospital or to allow decisions about where to go for care, this kind of transparency and openness is a big business change but the benefits to the patient are starting to outweigh the difficulty in getting there.

The data for mapping where power lines are in Ireland is open data, a data set that we have taken and applied to one of the modules within the Health Atlas, why? Well if we are flying doctors into a RTA or a remote area to assist with a heart attack then this data becomes essential. Flying doctors with maps adds to efficiency and safety and is largely based on open data sources.

As the patient becomes less suspicious of digital health platforms we envisage the openness of health data to grow and grow. Take the Babylon health solution and the change in acceptance of where the patient data is. Patients in Ireland can now pay a small fee and have a ‘FaceTime’ consultation with a clinician at a time that is convenient to them, in a space that doesn’t fill up an A&E that is at capacity and with an outcome that is right for the patient.

This kind of attitude change can only enhance our journey to being able to use data in an open and responsible way for the good of health delivery and the safety of patients.

Originally published at –

The Trends Driving Data Analysis

Our aim at Qlik isn’t remote or technical, it’s about people and how they use information; our goal is “simplifying decisions for everyone, everywhere”. The NIHR Clinical Research Network began using our QlikView Business Intelligence (BI) software in 2012 in order to do just that – to help people make better informed, collaborative decisions about the UK’s clinical research efforts, based on a shared understanding of data.

For us at Qlik it’s been fascinating to see how the Network has quickly been able to climb the analytic maturity curve in just three years – not an easy thing to do as it involves changing behaviours around data as much as any technical capability. In 2010 the Clinical Research Network had local systems, slow data with little integration and islands of Excel everywhere. Fast forward three years and it had democratized data access by developing a stable of analytics apps, engendering an active culture around data internally, and in the wider NHS through the NIHR ‘Open Data Platform’.

The journey that Network has been on reflects a number of the macro trends driving changes in how organizations approach and use information.

Utilizing unbound human and computer interaction
Increasingly, we’re removing barriers between humans and technology. People don’t want to just view the data presented to them in static forms. Instead, they want to see the data visually and interact with it as fast as they think.  The Clinical Research Network’s interactive dashboards, for example the Coordinated System for gaining NHS Permissions (CSP) Study Tracker, exemplify this trend by providing visualizations combined with fast, in-memory processing and intuitive data exploration and search.

Coping with the ongoing, accelerating data boom
With vast amounts of (Big) data storable, organizations need a way to deal with the attendant complexity, and sort the signals from the noise. Users are demanding better, greater access to all of their data, regardless of where it comes from or what type it is. To do this effectively requires sound ‘information management’ practices. The work that the Network has done creating a reference data service, including a data dictionary, terminology definitions and a single map of organizational hierarchies, has helped it to take advantage of a broadening range of data sources, and to be ready for future changes in its information environment. Based on Qlik’s perspective the work the Clinical Research Network has done in this area could benefit many other organizations.

Taking advantage of rising user activism
It’s true that a new, tech-immersed generation is entering the workforce, but in the era of the smartphone the reality is that we’re all engaged with information tech as consumers. This ‘consumerization’ has set high expectations of technology. Software has to be fast, relevant and easy to use – no one reads the manual anymore! Further, people are no longer passive consumers of data.  They actively use it to live their lives, and express their opinions, and they have strong opinions about the software and apps they choose to use to do so. Choice is the critical point, and one that the Network well understands in its approach based on ‘fandom’.   Instead of trying to mandate the use of technology or forbid the use of another the Clinical Research Network decided to think of its BI as a product that has fans rather than customers, approaching culture change through the demand of the fan, and not through command and control. Many organizations struggle to achieve this approach – it takes an atypical, outside-in approach to technology deployment, quite unlike that which IT teams normally use when deploying software products. At Qlik we’re increasingly encouraging our customers to be far more marketing savvy and to behave like internal software companies, just like the Network did.

Evolving the Role of IT
The Clinical Research network’s approach to BI is about enabling its staff and the broader research community to help themselves through self-service apps. This is an example of how IT teams are transforming from gatekeepers to storekeepers, providing business users (or the researcher community in the Network’s case) with the tools they need to be find data and make decisions. To be a successful storekeeper, the Network needed to stock helpful tools and provide consumable ‘information products’ or apps, as it does through its ”Resource Centre” [link]. Doing so successfully is closely associated with a culture of openness – sharing data within a community for the collective benefit of all, something that the Clinical Research Network has as part of its core activity.

In conclusion, the Network’s progress around analytics has been fast, touching people, process and technology. In today’s connected and data intensive world, we succeed via our ability to exploit data well and quickly. To get maximum return from information though analysis it has be delivered fast enough, in sync with the operational tempo our organizations need. The fact that the Clinical Research Network can now gain greater insight into the performance of research and deliver information based feasibility analysis aids the UK’s clinical research delivery efforts. At Qlik we’re delighted to be part of what the Clinical Research Network has done by liberating its data, as we all benefit from the outcomes of clinical research, and we look forward to supporting it in future.

C this Vs C that!

Recently at the IT Service Management 2014 conference I got into a debate via social media about the need for a Chief Digital Officer. The presentation was on cloud computing and service management and the presenter suggested that an organisation going down a cloud route ought to have a C suite person responsible for data.

I challenged this with the comment that if an organisation has a Chief Information Officer then they already have this in place! A little cheeky really as I guess I would protect the role of CIO, but the rise of Chief type roles relating to technology will at some point be unearthed as a cash cow for the IT executive. In some respects maybe we ought to come out now and be honest that at the executive level, if we can have one role responsible for technology generally then that is a great achievement and a leap forward in the last five years.

Chief Technology Officer, Chief Digital Officer, Chief Innovation Officer, Chief Information Security Officer, can we roll all of these into the CIO role? Surely this is just begging for the ‘too many chiefs and not enough Indians’ phrase to be used by someone. Even at the Information Security Forum Congress there was a whole workstream on ‘will the CISO be the new CIO?’. It seems everyone wants the CIO role to become something else.

Organisations want to place the release of benefits from technology at the centre of what is being delivered. I believe that the CIO is the right role to do this. Information is surely the most important phrase out of all the chief related roles, after all we don’t just want to collect date, we want to change data into information and put it too good use, and with that in mind surely the CIO is the role at the top of the technology chief-doms?

We have been using phrases centred on the collection of data to create insight for a couple of years now. Hearing it echoed back by some of the most senior people in our organisation makes me think that we have got the message right. The fact that our information is credited by our CEO as being our second most important asset tells me that the role of information is more solid in its foundations and we have matured from the need for a Chief Data Officer as we have a collective responsibility for information through a single point of responsibility at the top table.

The elaboration that the information strategy had to go through to reach the point where the organisation consistently considered information over data was quite a journey.

For us this journey started with creation of the Information Strategy in mid-2011. At the very core of the strategy we pinned our designs on a transformation where the systems that collect and manipulate the data are considered separate to the information the organisation lists as an asset. This separation would allow the organisation to have a clearer understanding and view of the value of its information rather than considering everything to be technology, wires and tin.

The team that volunteered for the delivery of technology across the organisation were the key authors for this strategy. However to ensure that the transformation from data as part of technology to information that delivers insight required the team to work at the core business end of the organisation. This would require far more understanding than had been seen before from a technology team, suddenly empathy became a skill for a technologist to have.

The engagement of research teams and executives from many speciality areas was actioned on the basis that they would ultimately then be able to influence the deliverables that ensured the implementation of the strategy.

So now several years later we are coming to the end of what the strategy prescribed, and as I said earlier we now hear the most senior parts of our organisation echoing back the information that delivers insight phrase rather than data collection. However we need to maintain this attitude, once there it doesn’t simply exist because it has been achieved.

So our organisation is sticking with the concept of one C suite role responsible for the delivery of business change and benefit through technology. The role will remain strategic in focus and be the voice at the board that is responsible for making the most from technology, but, they will be responsible for the data, its security and the innovation it brings as well.

Guest Blog – Farming Business Intelligence: Fields of Possibility

Paul Maslowski is the Information Manager at a Comprehensive Local Research Network and a member of the virtual Business Intelligence Unit at the NIHR CRN. Paul has a unique view of data in the NHS and in particular in the research environment and has provided a guest blog this week that is well worth a read… 

Since early 2008 I have been the Information Manager for Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Rutland Comprehensive Local Research Network, a part of the National Institute for Health Research. Having moved from data generation through data management in to information management, I have questioned what creates these areas of operation. Sitting here in 2014, the question for me now is what distinguishes information management from business intelligence management? This is because I want our team to provide an intelligence service which fully supports our business. However, it feels like a stepping-up in the way we operate is required in order to provide a consistently high-quality business intelligence service.

So, what differences are there, if any, between Information Management and Business Intelligence Management? Or maybe, more simply, what is the difference between Information and Intelligence?

Having used various models to try and answer this, I was thinking of Professor Stephen Hawking’s fields of probability radiating in to nothingness pre-Big Bang when I came up with ‘Fields of Possibility’. See what you think of this as an analogy…

Let us consider a data item. In this case, an ear of wheat. This ear of wheat has various parameters including height at a particular point in time. So we may consider an ear of wheat as a small dataset.

A larger dataset, therefore, may be a sheaf of wheat.

An extended dataset could be a crop in a field.

However, large fields may contain a number of crops. In which case, we could argue that the field contains a large amount of information which we can analyse and manage.

For the sake of the analogy let us consider that extended information is a number of fields on a farm.

The next stage up from this is where I feel intelligence starts to appear – a point where we are able to consider the farm in its entirety. This is powered by the connections/communication paths between the fields of information. This I split in to two types – internal paths and external paths.

Internal intelligence looks at the enablers for the information, the roots if you like! This could include soil quality, crop yields and, therefore, the return on investment (ROI) and maybe the ability to rotate crops over time.

External intelligence is where things get really interesting. This is where we start to empower the information to the point where we can start to make predictions as well as asking ‘What if’ questions. We have always been able to ask these questions but if we have no intelligence to back them up, it is quite possible that we take the wrong path through ignorance. However, if the farm allows us to back up our questions with real life (and ideally real-time) evidence, we can ask intelligent questions. More fundamentally, however, is the ability to get intelligent answers back.

What if we bought neighbouring fields? What would happen to our ROI then? What if we put a bridge across the river to the field we have always struggled to really utilise properly? If we did, how soon would we recoup the costs and so on.

So, the fundamental question is: by throwing more data at a problem, do we get an intelligent outcome? I feel that this is the same question about taking an almost infinite hard drive and putting more and more data on to it. In time, will it become conscious? Not in and of itself. However, by connecting larger data sets holding more information in an intelligent manner we may get closer to an intelligent result. This after all is what would suit our business better. So, now my question is, what paths can I create across the farm to gain the greatest intelligence? Using this approach I cannot help but feel that there are no limits to the fields of possibility…

Find out more about Paul at – Linkedin Profile