The excitement related to the announcements of the Qlik Luminary Programme has been with us since just before Christmas, embargoed until now, and being embargoed with the level of enthusiasm I have for this has felt a little like being given an ASBO, but at last the announcement has been made and we can begin to consider the benefits the NIHR CRN gains from us being given this opportunity.

And, I do mean us. For the first time ever one organisation has two luminaries. Qlik describe the programme as:

“…bringing together the brightest customers, partners and enthusiasts from within the ecosystem.”

It is the luminaries’ role to inform and champion the vision of user-driven Business Intelligence and its potential to make transformative discoveries in all types of different businesses.

For us, becoming a Qlik Luminary isn’t just about better business practices. It’s about creating a better system for clinical research to evolve within, one in which data is harnessed to create beneficial change, not just for our own organisation, but for others too.

As a Luminary the expectation is that we will be constantly finding new and innovative ways to use the Business Intelligence tools we have invested in.

lu·mi·nar·y  (lo̅o̅′mə-nĕr′ē)

n. pl. lu·mi·nar·ies
1. An object, such as a celestial body, that gives light.
2. A person who is an inspiration to others.
3. A person who has achieved eminence in a specific field.

The Open Data Platform (ODP) apps are tools we have built on top of the Qlik product. We have deployed some of these already and we are starting to deliver more and more insight directly into the business from their use. The user numbers are growing quickly and the ability for the ‘crowd sourcing’ of the development of new apps is now in place. A sign that ODP is becoming ingrained in all that we do is the fact that we now see it represented publicly in slide decks published by the NIHR CRN team. The fact that the Department of Health’s most senior team are happy to use the system outputs for performance monitoring and checking out the demand for the services we support also shows us that we have reached the last base camp before heading to the summit of full adoption and benefit realisation.

But, the definition of luminary above doesn’t say anything about resting on the laurels of our current success! There is a significant user base who still don’t ‘get’ what Business Intelligence is and  that’s where I want to shine my luminary light first. The concept of making fans of the systems we have available to us rather than a mandated user base is still a strong principle for me and our organisation.

What to tackle first in this ‘bucket list’ though? Key comments that need addressing for the apps we have built are described below with a quick view of what we are going to do about it.

“Its ‘clunkier’ than I thought it would be” – It’s not really, but, the commercialisation of IT means that there is a high expectation of how easily systems should now be to use. The ODP apps are the epitome of “Beautiful Information’ to me, but, there is a great deal of information in some of the apps and therefore they can be a little hard to ‘drive’ at first. To fix this, two pieces of work will be underway soon, more detailed business based training and further consideration and redesign of the user interface.

“The data changes” – At last, the veracity of our data is now captured in the tools we use to enable insight into the performance based on our data. This is a good thing! But, there are two clear pieces of work that need to be done to avoid this becoming a blocker to adoption. Firstly we need to be able capture ‘data cut’ reports so that everyone can be talking about the same baseline of data in performance meetings etc, and secondly we need to ensure we work through the business change and cultural elements of moving to managing with data six weeks behind the curve to data that is 24 hours away from truth.

“Will it work on my tablet?” – Yes it will now, and in the future.We have a wide selection of tablet PCs across the estate as we have BYOD in place for this kind of technology which means that slowly but surely we need to ensure that the apps work on the many different devices we have in our estate.

These three areas are where the luminary light will be shone first and we will enjoy doing that.

What else will the accolade of this role mean to our organisation? Using the role to alter cultural perceptions is important for me. In a recent presentation to a senior group within our organisation I was aghast to hear an argument for not adopting the ODP voiced as a need to be able to “… make the data look like we want it to look.” This from an organisation that is performance managed against this data and within a contract framework that is well structured to ensure the delivery of research in the NHS.

One of my early statements in this blog; ‘…which data is harnessed to create beneficial change’ comes to mind again when considering the cultural perception I want this opportunity to help us achieve. Moving to a place where information is used to improve the delivery of clinical research at the point where it can impact upon the patient choice and the patient outcome is key to delivery.

In a recent conversation with an NHS organisation there was a statement made about what Business Intelligence tools do, ‘they lift up a stone to reveal a rockery underneath it.’ I think this is a great way to describe what ODP will do now. We now have the ability to bring the might of the giant light house of the Luminary Programme to bear on this so that each of those new rocks will be overturned to reveal a new insight and then we can share with others how to do this.