HIMSS 2014: A Live Look from the Show Floor

HIMSS 2014

It has been so exciting for Avaya to be a part of HIMSS14 here in Orlando, Florida.

The weather has been perfect and the rain held off to the last night of the exhibits. This is a huge event; it’s hard to describe the scale of it. The exhibit space takes a mile to walk the length of, and the Willis Tower in Chicago (better known as the Sears Tower) can fit on its side with room to spare in the exhibit space.

HIMSS14 had just under 40,000 attendees staying in 85 hotels. There are more than 1,400 exhibits, and it takes more than 4 million pounds of freight to make the event happen.

It was very enlightening to hear from Aetna’s CEO, Mark Bertolini as he shared the four challenges facing healthcare: Wasteful healthcare spending, an increasing prevalence of chronic conditions, U.S. healthcare costs as a percentage of GDP continuing to increase, while U.S. healthcare premiums grow at 4x the growth of wages and inflation.

Bertolini offered three prescriptions, notably incentives and payment reforms, taking care of the chronically ill and investing in wellness, which he believes is a 25-year journey.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at HIMSS 2014

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at HIMSS 2014.

We also heard from former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who praised all the attendees at HIMSS for their efforts to drive improvements to healthcare through improvements in health-related technology.

Clinton said HIMSS was in a position to not just help the industry see what’s over the next horizon. She also talked about how evidence-based debate is crucial to healthcare reform, and that we can all be part of providing evidence and real solutions.

There were quite a few people with some very tired feet from all the walking, but I believe we all walked away with new insights and relationships that will help take healthcare IT to the next level.

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Next-Generation Retail Insights from the National Retail Federation’s Big Show 2015

Every year in January for the past century, tens of thousands of retailers and industry representatives converge in chilly (okay, really freezing cold) New York City for the National Retail Federation Big Show. For 4 days, NRF brings together retailers and partners in the retail ecosystem to discuss standards, best practices and latest technologies and research.

It is also a showcase for several key NRF initiatives:

  • The Retail Across America program: A program that highlights the retail industry’s positive impact on the U.S. economy, in terms of employment and business.
  • National Retail Federation Big Show
  • Keynotes from dignitaries like ex-Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke on handling of the financial crisis, and a round table discussion from executives from NFL, NBA, NHL, WTA and the German National Team discussing how sports fan marketing can be applicable to retailers.
  • National Retail Federation Big Show
    National Retail Federation Big Show 2015

  • Expo halls and sessions featuring speakers and retailers discussing technology and best practices for retailers.
National Retail Federation Big Show 2015

I spent 3 days at the event and came away with the following observations:

  • Omnichannel customer engagement is a reality
    The shoppers have spoken: We want to browse, shop and get our questions answered anytime, anywhere, in-person or online, on any device, and at our convenience. Retailers need to invest in the process, the people and technology to sell across all channels. It isn’t about “showrooming” or “webrooming,” it’s about shopping.
  • Integrating Web-like experiences in stores
    Customers are interested in replicating the types of experiences they get online in-store. We saw a number of innovative examples, like the Rebecca Minkoff showcase on eBay, and Scala’s digital signage powered by physical sensors in a sneaker display. As shoppers are more comfortable with technology, retailers continue to experiment with technology-driven store experiences.
  • National Retail Federation Big Show 2015
  • Mobility and wireless are king
    The wireless experience now acts as the shopper’s “fifth sense.” While retailers are experienced with manipulating sight, sound, taste, smell and touch, the WiFi experience acts like the consumer’s fifth sense. WiFi is now a crucial piece of the shopping experience, whether it’s through engaging consumers on their mobile devices, giving tablets to employees, or powering mobile checkout and self-service kiosks.
  • Reporting and metrics capabilities continue to grow
    I think the term “big data” is overused. For the past 100 years, retailers have been using detailed reporting to run their businesses. The only difference is that now, the amount of actionable data is hundreds of times more detailed and powerful. From social media data to location data, Web browsing histories, to location heat maps, there is no shortage of new data available to retailers. The key going forward will be to turn these individual data points into actionable intelligence, to increase revenue or operational efficiencies.
  • National Retail Federation Big Show 2015
  • How to fill an auditorium for an 8:30 a.m. keynote
    Donuts. Lots and lots of donuts and coffee. There must have been 20+ staff passing out Krispy Crème in 3 lines as people entered the auditorium for the morning keynote. Great logistics lesson from NRF for any other events in the future. Congrats!

For more information on the National Retail Federation Big Show, please visit bigshow15.nrf.com.

The New Era of Engagement – A Day in Life of an Online Shopper

At the recent Avaya Engages Silicon Valley event, Avaya announced a number of initiatives, including our new engagement strategy, and technologies such as Avaya Engagement Development Platform and Avaya Agent for Chrome.

Avaya Engages Silicon Valley

I would like to share with you the story line for one of the demonstrations featured during the event, the Day in the Life of the Online Shopper. Following the demo, we received a lot of positive feedback on social media, since it featured many of the technologies announced at the event.

Imagine you are a shopper looking for a pair of bootcut jeans. If you had questions about the pants, you could go to the store and have an associate answer your questions, measure and fit you, and complete the transaction.

Now imagine taking that same scenario online. Retailers interested in replicating the high-touch customer experience equip their associates with video so they can help customers through the computer, answering your questions, sharing their screen and helping you complete your purchase.

That exact scenario can now be accomplished with Avaya Engagement Development Platform Snap-Ins like WebRTC, Work Assignment, Context Store, Real-Time Speech Analytics, and the new Avaya Agent for Chrome.

To see this solution in action, please contact your local Avaya representative to arrange a personal demo.

For a deeper dive into the Avaya Engagement Development Platform, read Mark Fletcher’s interview with Gary Barnett, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Engagement Solutions at Avaya.

Marine Corps Marathon Races to the Finish Line

An estimated 30,000 marathoners from 50 countries took to the streets of our nation’s capitol Saturday for the 39th annual Marine Corps Marathon. So did 120,000 spectators who were there to cheer them on and enjoy a gorgeous fall day.

They lined a route that wound past a host of scenic monuments and historic sites – from the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and National Mall to the Arlington National Cemetery.

Avaya Government Solutions was out in full force and proud to be a sponsor. We staffed water stations along the 26.2-mile course and even fielded our own team of runners.

Retired Marine and Medal of Honor winner Kyle Carpenter kicked things off by parachuting to the starting line carrying a 7,800-square-foot flag you could see from miles away. He shed his flight suit and then ran the race. That’s quite the feat, considering the severe injuries he suffered just four years ago diving onto a grenade to save a fellow Marine.

There were dozens of other inspiring stories around every turn – from the disabled vet who lost his legs and ‘ran’ the marathon on a hand-propelled skateboard, to the mother of a severely wounded Marine who competed to raise money for the Semper Fi Fund benefiting wounded warriors.

Those kinds of heroic stories have helped to make the event one of the largest marathons in the world. It has come to be known as the “People’s Marathon” since no prize money is awarded. Instead, runners compete for bragging rights and the love of the race.

And speaking of bragging rights… two Army runners took top honors this year, an outcome I’m certain will ratchet up rivalry among the services for years to come. Army Spec. Samuel Kosgei placed first in the men’s division, while Army Captain Meghan Curran led the women’s division. Congratulations to all!

For a closer look at the action: