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Virtual Think IT Event: The Changing World of Digital

Last Friday, we hosted a Virtual Think IT Event to discuss the Changing World of Digital. A huge thank you to Francois Charette, Optum Digital CIO at Optum, and Melissa Flicek, SVP of Digital Transformations at Optum for facilitating this meeting. Thank you to everyone who joined the event and participated in the discussion!

Below you will find an overview of the most popular questions from our members and a summary of what was discussed.

A little bit about Melissa and Francois

Melissa Flicek is a seasoned IT Leader in Minneapolis and has led an amazing career thus far. She has been at Optum for three and a half years, in a role that balances consumer experiences within digital channels for Optum businesses and ownership of the corporate enterprise-level marketing stack. Prior to her time at Optum, she spent 5 years at Medtronic helping build and enhance their digital capabilities across the globe. Melissa’s work helped create more efficient processes in inventory management in hospitals and e-commerce ordering of medical devices. Prior to Medtronic, she spent almost 10 years at Target. With her team, she created the first Red Card management platform. Being that she has experienced a variety of digital transformations at these companies, she is amazed by how similar but different each one can be based on the corporate culture.

Francois Charette, another impressive and seasoned IT Leader in Minneapolis, is the CIO of Optum Digital. For those who may not know, Optum Digital was created a little less than a year ago to drive digital across the enterprise (Optum and UHG). He has been with UHG for 17 years and done a variety of roles across the company. He started in innovation, and built Medicare risk adjustment solutions, which they ultimately decided to commercialize and become Optum Insight. He spent 7-8 years there building commercial software products for the healthcare industry. He became the CTO of Optum Insight during the last couple years of his time with Optum Insight. After this, he was asked to be the CIO at Optum Rx, the pharmacy business within UHG. Francois was responsible for transforming the business from a waterfall operating model to an agile operating model and transforming the technology by re-platforming their core systems. Prior to his time at UHG, he served time in the military in his home country of Canada and worked at a startup company for 7 years.

What is Digital and when did it first come into play?

Melissa: “Digital is not a device, and it is not technology based. Digital is a way of working, interacting, and simplifying, standardizing, and exposing data. Using customer insights to make decisions. To be digital is to be data and customer outcome obsessed.” She believes that for a company to be “digital” they must completely flip the way they’ve solved problems in the past and reinvent an experienced process. Digital transformations impact every single aspect of these businesses, from operations to design and everything in between. For her, digital is more a way of working and putting the point of view of the consumer first.

Francois: Going off of what Melissa said, Francois states that people often fail to acknowledge that the consumer isn’t always just the customer, whether they may be an employee or a client, companies need to keep their experiences in mind as well. From his point of view, digital transformations are to ensure that all digital platforms are working together to provide a good experience for the consumer. Over the past two years, the healthcare industry has gone through a massive digital transformation due to the need for healthcare to be accessible 24/7. For example, website maintenance can no longer take the time it used to, because the consumer needs to have access to speak with a doctor or book an appointment at any point in time. Unlike years ago, where you would only be able to get in contact with your healthcare provider Mon-Fri. He believes that the digital transformation happens more in the culture of the company versus the technology.

Chat Question: How do business Block-Chains used for highly secure data storage fit into digital?

Francois: One of the most important factors to keep in mind when using Block Chains is making sure you have the right use for them. In Francois opinion, he does not believe that Block Chain is any more or less secure than any other standard technology, if you do the right thing from a security perspective.

What does a Digital Transformation look like when dealing with security?

Francois: As companies are transforming technology, and migrating to the public cloud, historically, they have always looked at security as being done and managed by the CISO or centralized organization. One of the big shifts that UHG has done is recognizing that security is everyone’s responsibility. The software engineers are accountable for their infrastructure, and it changes the way digital architects do their job. They must create no-trust components and make sure that they manage their interaction appropriately. Based off of data breeches in the past, they know that most of them are caused by misconfigurations of the digital environment. Francois encourages all companies to enter a transformation like this to reinforce that the culture of security is for everyone, and everyone is accountable for it.

How has the pandemic influenced the way you have worked over the past couple of years?

Melissa: The pandemic has impacted companies the most in that they can hire people from anywhere. This has served as a good and a bad thing. Companies are losing great people to other companies that are offering 100% fully remote positions. This can affect a company’s digital transformation and cause them to really think about the employee experience, to retain and attract people to their teams.