Scaling data, school of fish
Digital at Scale

Ambu tackles explosive growth with smarter digital workflows

Ambu has grown into a global company over a short period of time. For this reason, CIO Michael Skånstrøm has kept a sharp focus on maturing internal processes before powering them up. The growth itself has been driven by Ambu’s single-use endoscopes, which Michael Skånstrøm compares to Software-as-a-Service.

When a doctor uses one of Ambu’s endoscopes to examine a patient’s airways, the procedure is supported by a wide variety of digital aids.

Using cameras, lighting and digital imaging, it is much easier for doctors to quickly carry out the examination with a minimum of inconvenience to the patient. Because the endoscope is used once only, the risk of infection from other patients is eliminated.

But reduced infection risk is not the only benefit of Ambu’s endoscopes, explains CIO Michael Skånstrøm. With the single-use model, doctors are always assured of having the latest technology at their fingertips.

"The technology we use in our endoscopes is evolving very quickly, and the various digital solutions are becoming cheaper. There are many kinds of technology involved in an endoscope, and the single-use model enables us to update the product every time one of our suppliers comes up with an improvement. In this way, the model can be compared to Softwareas-a-Service, where you are always guaranteed the latest version of a product", says Michael Skånstrøm, CIO at Ambu.

Innovation via Skype
Healthcare professionals around the world have enthusiastically embraced the idea of single-use endoscopes, and this has led to strong growth for Ambu in just a few years. Although Ambu was listed on the stock exchange back in 1992, it is only within the last five years that this rapid growth has taken hold. This has transformed the medical firm from a modest European business into a global player.

"Our explosive growth has necessitated new workflows. You can no longer take a short walk along the corridor to talk to your colleagues – things have to run digitally. The relocation of production means that Skype and other digital tools are vital to ensuring close communication between our innovation and production people", says Michael Skånstrøm.

More process maturity, please
The transition to digital workflows requires thorough preparation, which often begins long before the arrival of the actual digital tools

"Our biggest obstacle is the lack of process maturity in some parts of our organization. We need to have a greater understanding of our business processes and thoroughly define them before we power them up. Low-cost companies have whipped themselves to higher levels of efficiency through Lean and similar initiatives. We can use the same techniques to improve our quality and reduce turnaround times", says Michael Skånstrøm and continues:

"Once we have deeply embedded our business understanding and defined our processes, it will be much easier to bring in external partners. Then we will be able to scale and perform tasks far more rapidly. Without this preparation, it would all too often be the usual suspects working on the projects. This is why we have introduced process training as part of our competency development program".

Michael Skånstrøm's best tips for the agile CIO

  • Go out into in the organization and spend more time with your colleagues outside the IT department than those inside. This provides the best opportunities for following processes, creating maturity and shaping new workflows that we can then power up.
  • Have a well-stocked digital toolbox to complement your new workflows.
  • Keep an eye on core performance. Innovation comes to a standstill without control over basic support and operations. It is important to demonstrate that you can deliver and maintain stable operations. Once you have done that, the fun can begin.

Digital facts about Ambu

  • As a regulated company in an industry with high documentation requirements, many of Ambu’s digital projects need to run in a classic waterfall model with clearly defined specifications. However, this does not mean that Michael Skånstrøm and his colleagues are prevented
    from thinking out of the box in the initial stages. Here they often work in informal “sandboxes” where they test ideas before moving them into the more traditional models.
  • Ambu is highly aware of the importance of IT security so status and plans for IT security are regularly presented to the Board of Directors.
  • Ambu makes extensive use of cloud. Michael Skånstrøm sees this as a great advantage for the relatively small IT department that no longer needs specific application skills as a result. Cloud has significantly reduced operational complexity and led to extremely high reliability. In addition, some of the solutions that Ambu needs are only available in the cloud.