Jeroen Tas, the former group CIO at Philips has revealed how he championed his way to becoming the head of a new division at the 123-year-old technology company.
Tas, now the CEO of Philip’s Healthcare Informatics Solutions and Services division, said he had acted as a “cheerleader” for helping the company reinvent itself, by taking’ existing Philips technologies and combining them to produce new use cases.
He did this by setting up a ‘digital accelerator lab’ within the business, combining expertise from all different areas of the business.
“Two years back, we started to set up a digital accelerator. We could see it [technology change] coming, but didn’t know how to deal with it. We put together smart people from research, design, IT and business groups. We created use cases - say, connecting a home cooker to see how it can help you manage your recipes and nutritional plans - and started building devices and creating the apps around it,” Tas told the Forrester’s Forum for Technology Management Leaders in London.
“To me, setting up the digital accelerator lab was one of the defining moments. [As CIO at the time] I tried to be the cheerleader and tried to get people enthused about it. That’s why we set up the digital accelerator.”
Having the lab meant that Tas spent a lot of time with colleagues in other business units, and meant that he was engaging with the rest of the business more as well.
Once the lab was established, Tas said that his role as CIO “became more serious”.
“[The technology revolution] was happening and happening faster than I thought it was,” he said.
Thinking about existing products in a more connected way also required a new route to market, Tas said, and it required the company to develop more standard systems.
“Building embedded software [into individual products] is very different to building connected systems,” said Tas.
“So, we created common architecture, a set of rules for building your stack. We needed a common way to build devices, a common way to identify users and protect users, and widgets to craft a common definition for what the user experience is.”
It also required a cultural change, and a more agile approach to working from the entire organisation.
“It took a year and a half to get the whole organisation agile. Now we’re looking at scale,” Tas said.
The new division Tas now heads up is in its early stages, but Tas clearly has big ambitions for it, claiming that the unified technology systems Philips hopes to create in the healthcare informatics sector could “save lives”.
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