‘Organisations must be transparent about data collection’

1 Sep 2023

Michael Armstrong. Image: Tessa Tillett Robbins Photography

Authenticx’s chief technology officer Michael Armstrong discusses challenges in the IT landscape such as data security and privacy.

Michael Armstrong is the chief technology officer (CTO) at Authenticx, a software company that provides conversational data for healthcare companies.

With extensive experience in engineering, data architecture, product development and business intelligence, Armstrong leads the company’s product engineering, infrastructure and AI R&D teams. He also frequently writes about AI in healthcare.

‘We must build security into everything we do – every product, every service, every interaction’

What are some of the biggest challenges you’re facing in the current IT landscape and how are you addressing them?

The current IT landscape has multiple challenges we’re working to address. The first is data security and privacy, which are non-negotiable. Everything we design and build is encrypted and secure.

Another challenge we face is how to bridge the gap between users and AI, especially its last mile where we take neat toys and make them useable and practical. Our goal is always to develop and launch products designed to make customers’, patients’ and employees’ lives better.

Storing and computing at scale can be incredibly difficult. We hear a lot of talk about big data, but you don’t get there until you include unstructured data, which comprises about 80pc of big data. Unstructured data is where the richness lives, but it’s also the most difficult to mine, analyse and harness for insights.

What are your thoughts on digital transformation in a broad sense within your industry?

Digital transformation in healthcare faces some unique challenges, but besides security and privacy — which are a given — the two most significant are the talent gap and change management. Tech-savvy people are in short supply and high demand, though a lack of skilled professionals isn’t limited to the healthcare industry. Introducing new technologies, shifting how people do their jobs and helping people adapt to change isn’t easy, either.

Authenticx is a modern tech company tackling the challenge of bringing our clients along in this world of digital transformation. We’ve found that the more we can lean across and educate our clients, helping and training them and offering whatever support they need, the more comfortable our clients become with integrating technology designed to support their business goals.

Sustainability has become a key objective for businesses in recent years. What are your thoughts on how this can be addressed from an IT perspective?

This is an interesting topic. At Authenticx, we start the design process by asking, “How will this product be used? What are its benefits?” Answering these questions first positions us to minimise wasted cycles right from the beginning of the design and development process.

What big tech trends do you believe are changing the world and your industry specifically?

The two biggest trends I see changing the world – and presenting interesting challenges for most healthcare organisations – are AI and digital transformation. Both can significantly improve customer and patient experiences and drive better outcomes.

Digital transformation brings more opportunities to help businesses streamline and automate processes to provide more accurate, efficient and faster service. It’s got the potential to reduce costs by improving healthcare outcomes and eliminating inefficiencies.

We’re already seeing AI help predict patient needs, identify possible health risks and much more. Authenticx is leveraging AI to interpret and glean insights from vast quantities of data to help healthcare organisations deliver more personalised care, which will lead to better outcomes and more positive experiences.

But the caveat is both tech trends require new skills and change management to integrate smoothly and effectively into organisations. And I rarely see organisations able to execute on every element a technological innovation may require.

What are your thoughts on how we can address the security challenges currently facing your industry?

We must build security into everything we do – every product, every service, every interaction.  I’ve seen a lot of data about how consumers are becoming more and more skeptical about the data organisations collect – and how it’s used. Organisations must be transparent about their data collection and usage policies. If customers are going to share their personal data, they have the right to know where it’s going.

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