Walgreens CTO: What keeps me up at night and why partnerships are critical to digital transformation

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Mike Maresca, Global CTO for Walgreens Boots Alliance, talks astir what keeps him up astatine nighttime and wherefore gathering interior and outer partnerships is cardinal for integer translation success.

How does IT assistance healthcare companies innovate quickly, portion besides balancing diligent privateness and information security? On this occurrence of TechRepublic's Dynamic Developer , I'm joined by Mike Maresca, Global Chief Technology Officer astatine Walgreens Boots Alliance, to find out.

Readers successful the UK and US volition apt admit the Walgreens and Boots names, but WBA is besides location to brands similar No7, NICE!, Soap & Glory, and Liz Earle. Mike and I had the accidental to speech astir WBA's integer translation journey, information analytics, wellness information privacy, and what keeps him up astatine night.

The pursuing is simply a transcript of the interview, edited for readability. You tin perceive to the podcast utilizing the subordinate embedded below, ticker the video supra oregon work a transcript of the interrogation below, edited for readability.

Digital translation journey: Walgreens Boots Alliance

Bill Detwiler: So we're present to speech astir integer transformation, and I don't deliberation implicit the past twelvemonth there's immoderate manufacture that's had to woody with integer translation much than healthcare, fixed the pandemic and everything that's been happening arsenic a effect of that. I cognize you were caller to Walgreens Boots Alliance and you person a tech inheritance astatine Accenture. So, I'm truly funny successful your instrumentality connected integer translation successful an aged industry, being accelerated past year. I'm truly looking guardant to our conversation. And possibly a large spot to commencement is due to the fact that you were a small spot of an outsider with a tech inheritance coming successful to the healthcare manufacture is...when you joined, wherever was WBA successful their integer translation process? Had they been doing it for a decade? Was it ongoing? Where were they erstwhile you came connected board?

Mike Maresca, Global Chief Technology Officer astatine  Walgreens Boots Alliance

Mike Maresca, Global Chief Technology Officer astatine Walgreens Boots Alliance

Image: Walgreens Boots Alliance

Mike Maresca: Well, Bill, acknowledgment for having me. It's going to just...kind of elaborate connected your question astir wherever is WBA astatine successful the integer transformation. But erstwhile I joined, it was successful the mediate of the pandemic, a batch had changed astir our business, but what hadn't changed is our passionateness for being truly the starring spouse to our communities, our patients, our customers, and trying to reimagine what healthcare looks similar and wellbeing overall.

We launched astir the clip that I joined, a caller customer-centric healthcare strategy and we proceed to reimagine that. You would've heard that announced earlier this month, arsenic portion of our capitalist time to thrust sustainable agelong word benignant of value, and to beryllium lawsuit obsessed arsenic we digitalize our services crossed retail pharmacy, and a increasing concern wrong wellness services. It's a spot of a caller absorption astatine the time, but it precise overmuch maps backmost to what we are obsessed about. And we person been obsessed astir crossed some Walgreens, arsenic good arsenic Boots, some iconic brands, 170 years of innovation and pharmacy.

What we saw during the pandemic is we had to germinate and commencement providing vaccine services, investigating services. And I'm arrogant to accidental that we were precise palmy astatine that. What we started astatine the opening of the pandemic, and we had to reimagine immoderate of the lawsuit services. We truly did put and deliver. For instance, we present person an manufacture champion buy-online and pickup in-store, thing we didn't person astatine the commencement of the pandemic. We rolled retired tele-health services due to the fact that we didn't person our patients needfully visiting america successful our pharmacies. So that was astir bringing our services person to our customers. And that's the passionateness that brought maine to WBA and what keeps maine excited coming to enactment each day, trying to truly thrust amended outcomes for our patients and customers.

Additional integer resources

Building interior and outer partnerships is cardinal to integer translation occurrence

Bill Detwiler: I deliberation that's a truly absorbing perspective, and this is 1 of the things I emotion talking to CTOs about, due to the fact that you attack this from the exertion broadside of the equation, but arsenic you picture it, there's an constituent of integer translation that is the quality broadside of the equation. So I'd emotion to get your instrumentality arsenic a CTO, arsenic idiosyncratic that has an engineering background. And, I tin bull to benignant of identifying with that myself backmost from my assemblage days. How bash you, arsenic the caput of exertion for the organization, bring caller technologies to carnivore portion astatine the aforesaid time, keeping that absorption connected the quality broadside of the business?

Mike Maresca: It's a pugnacious challenge, but it's truly thing we're precise passionate astir astatine WBA. What does it mean for our customers? And we deliberation astir that time successful time out, and portion of the investments we're making, for instance, successful cloud, which is astir modernizing our halfway platform, is each astir bringing an accrued agility astatine the close outgo point, however we present IT for our customers.

Walgreens in-store pickup

Image: Walgreens Boots Alliance

Earlier this year, oregon really past year, astir this time, we realized that if we were going to thrust much capabilities, some digitally, but besides successful our stores, we needed a modern integer acceptable network. Again, keeping this lawsuit astatine the center, we wanted a much immersive experience, amended capabilities for our customers to present services that they need. I needed a modern integer web to bash that. So we invested successful relationships present successful the US with Verizon, we're moving towards web arsenic a service. Totally reimagining however we present web wrong Walgreens. And we're doing the aforesaid happening with BT implicit successful our planetary locations successful the UK and Ireland. So you bash person to equilibrium the technology, but you besides person to fig retired however is that delivering for your lawsuit and creating those connections and driving that exertion strategy that continues to enactment our customers and patients astatine the halfway is what my occupation is each about. And it's what I bask astir it.

Bill Detwiler: How hard is that statement to make, oregon is it adjacent an statement astatine each anymore to enforcement boards, to CEOs, to the CFOs, to the radical that are looking at, oregon possibly person traditionally looked astatine IT arsenic a outgo center? But present possibly spot it arsenic indispensable to maintaining the affirmative lawsuit relationships, but besides arsenic a mode to amended operations, amended efficiencies, arsenic you talk...to amended the terms point. Is that adjacent thing that you person to deliberation astir present arsenic CTO, erstwhile you spell and you say, Hey, look, I cognize traditionally we've done our networking 1 way, but we privation to bash it different way? And successful the everything arsenic a work world, we deliberation this is the close solution for us. When you marque that pitch, adjacent if you person to marque that pitch, is that thing that you get pushback connected now, oregon does everybody accidental no, that, that sounds similar that's the mode to go. That's the mode everyone's going. We conscionable request to bash that.

Mike Maresca: No. Is determination pushback? No, there's partnership. I similar to say, there's concern and with immoderate bully concern with the concern and IT, you research reasons wherefore successful options. And successful this case, successful particular, we speech astir networks. We saw this arsenic an concern successful the future. For instance, we partnered with Verizon, we're 1 of the archetypal 5G powered pharmacies successful the world. So it was much astir however we leverage the ecosystem of partnerships to thrust innovation. Because innovation doesn't hap wrong the 4 walls astatine WBA, it's done this connected acceptable of partnerships. And I deliberation we're truly excited astir immoderate of the partnerships successful the past twelvemonth that we've been capable to champion, whether it beryllium with Verizon and BT, from a web perspective. Certainly Microsoft has been important successful presumption of driving our presumption unreality and immoderate capabilities astir information and analytics.

Speaking of information analytics, we person a caller concern with Snowflake, which is helping america to bring insights from our data. And we conscionable precocious signed a woody with ServiceNow successful presumption of leveraging their capabilities and their innovation to assistance america reimagine IT, but also, immoderate of the lawsuit experience. They recognize that innovation docket needs to hap some wrong IT, but besides that strategical portfolio. Now, bash dollars and cents travel into play? Is it the close concern astatine the close time? Certainly that treatment happens. And that's portion of the concern that we person with the business. Again, arsenic we effort to germinate our offerings and our capabilities for however we service our customers and patients.

SEE: IT leader's usher to achieving integer transformation (TechRepublic Premium)

Walgreens is leveraging tech to incentivize affirmative wellness outcomes

Bill Detwiler: You mentioned a mates technologies. We were talking astir web arsenic a service. You're talking astir information analytics and immoderate of the partners you're moving with astir those technologies. Besides those, what are immoderate of the caller technologies that you're astir excited astir and you deliberation are adjacent connected your roadmap to amended operations and that lawsuit experience?

myWalgreens app screenshot

myWalgreens app

Image: Walgreens Boots Alliance

Mike Maresca: One that I would enactment retired determination is the investments we're making astir information and however we tin usage information much efficaciously wrong Walgreens and WBA, successful general. I deliberation that's going to beryllium cardinal to however we place ways to amended service our customers done preferences. I don't deliberation there's anybody amended than WBA successful presumption of managing the privateness of our patients. So we bash support that beforehand of mind, but determination are, successful presumption of driving differentiated outcomes, partnering done our wellness services web to resistance attraction absorption gaps. I'm precise excited astir however we tin usage information to thrust amended outcomes. I deliberation that's 1 to constituent retired determination and the investments successful Microsoft, Snowflake and others are truly starting to make that connected information platform, analytics level that is going to thrust those experiences forward. It's besides going to assistance america alteration internally.

We person amended optics connected our truthful proviso chain, which is simply a situation these days, arsenic you know. We person amended optics connected our financials and conscionable wide amended operational metrics. So that again we tin support our services going astatine the close costs and the close effectiveness done amended metrics and data. So that's 1 I would enactment retired there.

The different 1 I benignant of mentioned, the enactment that we're doing successful digital, whether it beryllium tele-health services, whether it beryllium the motorboat of myWalgreens, the relaunch of myWalgreens, that we conscionable did recently, wherever it really started from a loyalty perspective, arsenic a relaunch of our loyalty program. It besides started blending successful themes of wellness and wellness arsenic portion of your loyalty experience. I deliberation that's truly impactful erstwhile you tin commencement reasoning much than conscionable the shopper experience, but much of the diligent acquisition that's coming done that loyalty program. And we tin benignant of incent healthier customers. So I would accidental those two, those 2 oregon 3 that I mentioned I'm truly excited about, and I deliberation you're going to spot adjacent much innovation travel retired of WBA successful the adjacent year. So it should beryllium a bully twelvemonth for us.

Protecting diligent privateness and information information successful today's analyzable healthcare ecosystem

Bill Detwiler: Let's physique connected that past constituent a small bit, due to the fact that astatine slightest successful the United States healthcare is simply a premix mash, right? Of companies and backstage entities and nationalist entities. And you person accepted endpoint providers oregon points of care. You person GPs, you person doctors, you person ample networks of hospitals, contiguous attraction centers. And past you person what utilized to beryllium the accepted benignant of pharmacies that possibly radical deliberation of erstwhile they deliberation of Walgreens, but that's not what WBA truly is anymore.

And you benignant of talked astir this, due to the fact that you are talking astir producing amended diligent outcomes and utilizing information analytics to assistance thrust that. But you're besides portion of that larger ecosystem of healthcare providers. How bash you integrate the information that you're collecting astir radical and that you're utilizing to assistance them with your portion of their healthcare process with each those different antithetic components successfully, truthful that possibly it's not conscionable the publication data, it's not conscionable that diligent data, but that's shared backmost with doctors, oregon that's shared with the hospital, oregon the interactions that the doc notes are shared with you. How bash you bash that arsenic portion of that organization, but bash it successful a mode that doesn't compromise information of the data, privateness of the data? But besides everybody is connected archetypal enactment information now, truthful you request immoderate sharing, but you besides request the rights to support your IP. How bash you equilibrium that from an IT position oregon from a exertion perspective?

myWalgreens app wellness  alerts screenshot

myWalgreens app wellness alerts

Image: Walgreens Boots Alliance

Mike Maresca: Well, archetypal and foremost, I tin spell backmost to...privacy is apical of mind. I deliberation we're champion successful people successful that, truthful I'll conscionable enactment that close retired there.

In presumption of however we stock information that's by diligent and lawsuit consent and their quality to opt successful to those programs. That is an evolving abstraction arsenic the wellness assemblage gets much connected, again, putting the lawsuit astatine the center, but that is being driven by immoderate of the lawsuit consent. And we don't bash thing without the customer's support connected that. We bash person a increasing web of partnerships. VillageMD is surely 1 of them that we spouse across, again, with consent of sharing the information crossed that concern and driving amended outcomes. There are attraction gaps. There are...certainly erstwhile doctors stock information with america successful presumption of filling prescriptions, that's each shared. I deliberation it's each astir driving that result for the patient.

Bill Detwiler: I'm not trying to enactment you connected the spot successful presumption of the privateness and security. It's to me, arsenic idiosyncratic who's been successful tech their full lives, I spot that interconnectivity arsenic a affirmative and being capable to, and honestly, anymore being indispensable to driving those affirmative outcomes. I had 2 aged relatives that I was their superior attraction supplier for, and it could beryllium a situation for me, for their assorted doctors that they would see, the assorted pharmacies, sometimes they would spell to, that they didn't person a implicit picture. And truthful that's wherefore I'm ever funny to perceive the roadmaps for organizations successful the abstraction astir that, astir this interoperability and being capable to benignant of person people, Hey, look, I cognize we privation to support this backstage and we do, but you tin get a amended effect if you're consenting and we tin beryllium to you, it's amended for your wellness to person everybody benignant of successful the know.

So, I was reasoning much bigger picture. Is that something, those large representation interconnections that you speech to different IT folks, different CTOs and leaders successful the healthcare manufacture and bash you deliberation conscionable successful wide that it sounds similar that's the mode successful general, the manufacture is reasoning that we request to spell and hopefully we tin person people. Not convince, but conscionable stock with people, look, there's affirmative outcomes from doing this and to assistance flooded immoderate of the, possibly the reluctance that I conjecture definite segments of the colonisation mightiness person astatine that.

Mike Maresca: Yeah. There's reluctance there. And I tin conscionable constituent to, earlier this month, our caller CEO, Roz Brewer, had mentioned that lawsuit centric wellness strategy, and I'm existent excited astir that. It's going to delve into immoderate of those challenges that we spot from an manufacture perspective. How bash you...so for instance, captious services that are needed, however you prosecute the customer, and surely it'll really commencement to code the information and the privacy. So that is thing we're inactive evolving, but I deliberation immoderate of the adjacent steps that we're going to beryllium taking arsenic a strategy volition assistance america fig that out. And it is going to, arsenic you mentioned, it is going to beryllium an ecosystem of providers that are going to play a portion of driving it holistically for the customer.

Challenges facing today's CIOs: Attracting apical endowment and keeping up with the velocity of concern

Bill Detwiler: I person to inquire you arsenic a CTO, I cognize I'm moving retired of clip with you, and this doesn't person to subordinate to WBA, but arsenic a CTO close now, what keeps you up astatine night? What are those challenges that you look that different CTOs are facing close now? And however are you addressing them?

Mike Maresca: A fewer things apical of caput would be, keeping up with velocity of our business. The past 18 months we person seen melodramatic alteration successful accelerating however we usage exertion to thrust our concern forward. That's required america to look externally successful immoderate of the partnerships I mentioned earlier, but besides internally, however bash we guide? How bash we develop? How bash we invest? Because it is conscionable driving melodramatic alteration and the competitory scenery that's retired there. And however bash we support up the velocity of our concern arsenic we look internally, bash I person the close talent? Talent has been a premium lately, I deliberation it's not conscionable WBA, but each institution is looking astatine however they digitalize their services and we're nary different, but I deliberation from an manufacture perspective, and IT, is driven a premium connected endowment and a endowment is truthful important successful presumption of what we thrust from a capableness position and however we reimagine our aboriginal each day.

So I deliberation it's that, it's the velocity astatine which our concern adjacent getting retired beforehand and trying to thrust it with immoderate innovation ideas, but besides the endowment that we person astatine WBA and however we proceed to amended upon it. We person a fantastic team, that was 1 of the joys of changing jobs. I near a large company. I joined a large institution with a large squad that delivered astonishing things done the pandemic. I've lone been present 15 months and I've travel to admit the hard enactment and dedication of our squad members, some successful IT, arsenic good arsenic the business. So, I'm ace excited astir the squad that we have. We request to proceed to germinate it due to the fact that that's truly what our concern requires. But I would accidental connected the endowment side, that's thing that we're existent focused on, particularly arsenic we research immoderate of these caller technologies.

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