In this Q&A blog, we talk to Duncan Allen, one of InterSystems’ Sales Managers, about his almost two decades with the business, the importance of data quality, and some of the latest innovations in healthcare applications.
What’s your job role at InterSystems and what does it involve?
I’m a Sales Manager at InterSystems and have held this position for the last 18 years. In this role, I initially led the introduction of the Ensemble platform to the UK market, helping to establish Ensemble as the market leading integration platform in the NHS, used by over 120 Trusts and Boards.
I’ve also headed up some really exciting projects, such as securing InterSystems’ first major sale to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and achieved InterSystems’ largest sale of integration software to enable a large system integrator to service NHS Trusts in the North, Midlands and East regions of England. I’m now leading the introduction of IRIS for Health into the UK market.
Can you give a brief background of your career prior to InterSystems?
I come from a sales background and held the position of Sales Manager at HP, before taking up roles as a Strategic Alliances Director. In my early career, I worked in electronics engineering, and qualified as a Chartered Engineer.
What attracted you to the role/business?
For me, the main drivers were the quality of the people I met during the hiring process, InterSystems’ different way of thinking about the purpose of business, and its approach to business. I had a gut feeling about InterSystems and that has proved to be right – hence why I’ve spent almost two decades here!
What do you like most about your job and what’s a recent project you’re proud to have been involved in?
InterSystems has changed a huge amount, growing from a one-product company sharing offices in Eton, to the large and multi-faceted business it is today. Each year has brought new and interesting challenges which has allowed me the freedom to try new things with InterSystems’ support.
Most recently I was hugely proud to be part of an outstanding team of talented InterSystems people that won the MoD CORTISONE project for InterSystems in 2020.
What is your main motivation in your work life?
It has to be working with talented, motivated people in great teams, combined with having the satisfaction of selling a solution which truly delights a customer, and meets and exceeds their expectations
Why is data important?
I believe that having an understanding of data is and will be the source of wealth and power in the 21st century – in the same way as access to oil was in the 20th century. So, the now common saying that data is the new oil really is spot on.
What’s your view on utilising data for business benefits?
There’s no doubt that data can be extremely valuable to businesses and if used wisely it can do immense good. However, equally, if used in the wrong way, data can do immense damage, so having that understanding of data and how to use it to the best effect is crucial.
What’s your biggest frustration in the world of data?
I think my biggest frustration would be data quality or the lack thereof in some cases and the impact this has on trust. After all, if the quality of a data set is in question, you can’t trust any insights or decisions that then arise from it.
How do you see data and its uses evolving in the future?
Within healthcare provision, I think we are about to see many new innovative solutions reach the market which combine the power of data with artificial intelligence (AI) to create new ways of preventing, diagnosing, and treating disease and illness.
Additionally, Western healthcare systems typically have healthcare costs which are rising faster than GDP, which is clearly unsustainable and, therefore, demands radical change. I hope the pandemic will act to accelerate this change and open people’s minds to new ways of working.
What are the biggest benefits you’ve seen in the utilisation of AI whilst working at InterSystems?
I recently saw a new AI application which makes a rapid and early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s which could be ground-breaking.
If you could choose any job in the world, what would you choose?
I would be centre-forward for Barcelona football club during the day and play blues guitar in a super cool club in the evenings.
Tell us something about yourself that your work colleagues wouldn’t know.
I’m sure most of my colleagues already know this (and are probably sick of hearing about it!), but I’ve climbed Kilimanjaro and trekked to Everest base camp in the last four years.