Staying Abreast of the Evolving Enteprise Communications Space

Monique St. John, CTO and Security Officer at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)
Monique St. John, CTO and Security Officer at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)

Monique St. John, CTO and Security Officer at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)

1. In the light of your experience what are the trends and challenges you’ve witnessed happening with respect to the telecom space?

Traditional telecom has been evolving into a service branded unified communications (UC) system, which integrates multiple technology areas and functionality. As the need to be mobile and the remote worker population grows, the telecom industry has responded with connectivity and device enhancements to improve user experience and mobility. The key driver is to be able to work from anywhere, quickly and effortlessly. This is challenging due to the speed at which we are able to modernize and integrate corporate systems. We want to provide a good experience for our end user community. However, it’s not just one system ,but multiple infrastructures that provide UC services. The seamless integration of such a mix of platforms, code and vendors is not an easy task. As space evolves, the focus needs to be placed on developing the skills of team members needed to support these features just as much as the technology.

2. Could you talk about your approach to identifying the right partnership providers from the lot?

Partnering with companies that have expertise in core services is critical in the strategy and support of an infrastructure. A strong partner not only delivers a service or product, but also collaborates on what works best and offers guidance when something goes wrong with a product or service. My approach is to look for partners who are willing to advise on existing products that may not be properly utilized or optimized. Such a thorough examination is critical before making a significant decision to move on to the next big thing. Of course, emerging technology and trends are key to strategy development. It is important to understand the partner’s capabilities and roadmaps through open and transparent discussions and whether or not they align with internal strategy.

  As the need to be mobile and the remote worker population grows, the telecom industry has responded with connectivity and device enhancements to improve user experience and mobility  

3. Could you elaborate on some interesting and impactful project/initiatives that you’re currently overseeing?

We are currently working on two major initiatives in this space. The first is a clinical communications solution which will incorporate voice and several key clinical features on one mobile device. A successful implementation will transform the way clinicians work at CHOP. This device will enable the clinician to receive (and respond to) multiple forms of communication and alarms. Teams are in the process of testing devices, mobile device management, security considerations, infrastructure readiness and workflow details. The second initiative is moving from a legacy PBX system to VOIP technology. Moving to the VOIP design will involve migrating50+locations and converting approximately 20,000+ phones. This process requires careful analysis of phones, features needed and user requirements. Such a conversion will also allow soft clients to make calls from a laptop or a mobile application, allowing them to function as if they were in the office no matter where they are located. In the end, the telecommunications infrastructure will be modernized and supportable to provide a required consumer-styled solution.

4. What are some of the points of discussion that go on in your leadership panel? What are the strategic points that you go by to steer the company forward?

Here are guiding principles we rely onto ensure that our teams are developing and delivering the right services:

• Ease of Use/Workflow Enhancement: Always striving for the technology to be better and make a difference by focusing on “what is in the best interest of CHOP,” to ensure solutions are benefiting our clinicians, patients, and/or their families.

• Security: Ensuring the solution is secure and following standards.

• Mobility: Ensuring the service can be provided anywhere.

• Integration: Ensuring the ability to integrate with other core systems and infrastructure.

• Availability: Providing the service at the required time and ensuring correct redundancy within the design.

• Supportability: Knowing how the service will be supported and understanding the resource needs and service level expectations.

• Financial Stewardship: Investigating the cost, license model and operational expenses for the entire solution.

5. Can you draw an analogy between your personality traits, hobbies and how they reflect on your leadership strategy?

I am an avid open water swimmer (swimming in lakes, oceans, and bay). I have learned to swim with proper experience, skill, and the right support near me. I rely on each of these to get me from my starting point, through occasional rough waters, to the finish line, with enough strength to support other swimmers along the way. I believe the same with leadership – to surround myself with the right subject matter experts who have the ability to lead teams not only on good days, but when the tide changes and challenges arise.

6. How do you see the evolution of the Telecom arena a few years from now with regard to some of its potential disruptions and transformations?

The increasing use of UC technologies to provide mobility is going to transform the way people communicate. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is a service that has been around for several years and will continue to be relevant to enhance users’ experience, regardless if they are in the office or working remotely. Also, as Internet of Things (IoT) devices grow and come online, this will alter industries much faster than we have seen in the past, such as the support of telemedicine capabilities and how people receive care. In fact, we are already seeing an increase in devices in healthcare. Finally, the planned enhancement of cellular networks will change availability, speed and use.

7. What would be the single piece of advice that you could impart to a fellow or aspiring professional in your field, looking to embark on a similar venture or professional journey along the lines of your service and area of expertise?

I commonly suggest two things. The first is to volunteer for the projects that no one else seems to want to do, even if you are unsure of how to do them. These types of assignments will be a doorway into meetings and conversations you may not have previously been involved in and enhance your visibility. The second is to pay it forward. I have had great mentors and people that have provided me opportunities throughout my career. I try to offer those same opportunities and mentorships for others in whom I see potential and enthusiasm.

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