In the Rational Edge e-magazine of November 2005, Tony Bosselait, IBM Business Executive for Worldwide Healthcare Industry Software Sales, and Dr. Ben Amaba, IBM Rational Public Sector Industry Solutions Executive are interviewed.
Although it is an interesting article about healthcare IT, it struck me that the real challenging side of (software or system) development in the healthcare arena is avoided. The advanced technological challenges concerning systems for diagnostics, imaging, treatment and therapy are left out of the equation in the article.
It is in this area that extremely complex real-time systems, advanced technology and advanced clinical application meet the critical health and safety requirements of patients, medical staff and scientists. It is in this area that business, technology and society truely meet.
One of the challenges that IBM (and software tool vendors in general) should address is not only to provide the tools to do modeling, architecture & design, coding, integration, verification and validation, configuration management, etcetera, but to do it with extremely large datasets of system assets/artefacts, in an extremely flexible way (e.g. refactoring, rapid prototyping), for extremely large systems with extremely complex, real-time behaviour, for extremely large development projects that cross not only geographic areas but also enterprise boundaries (multi-company collaboration to bundle pluriform competences) and extremely transparent across all of those disciplines (business modelling, requirement management, etcetera).
It has been evident to me that IBM is avoiding these real challenges and focusses more on the “big money” business (i.e. enterprises). Stakeholders like that! It is a large market and there is a lot of money going around. However, technologically large and complex systems are emerging into society with agressive speed (such as health, home/entertainment, automotive/aeronautics, semiconductor, (tele)communications, etc.) and e-commerce depends on it for its growth. Afterall, you can’t sell what you can’t make. Society is more and more relying on protection of health and safety in a automated, transparent, even invisible way, not only in a military way (e.g. counter terrorism) but also in an everyday situation like healthcare or traffic-safety (e.g. car safety). More and more, we rely on the correctness of automated guidance systems, surveillance systems, monitoring systems and even systems that take over our actions to cope with emergency situations.
Development of those systems require the most sophisticated and advanced development tools / methods. Tool vendors like IBM Rational do have a responsibility to society to enable the technological means for (software) development. I do understand that IBM rather goes where the most money is, but ultimately the industry needs far more sophisticated tools and methodologies than what is currently available in the marketplace.