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Matt Baker on Health Care Tech, Data Integration, and Creativity

Matt Baker may be a master technologist, but he’s not besotted with technology for technology’s sake. 

“I like looking at problems and figuring out solutions for them,” says Matt, the Vice President of Product Development Services for Customertimes, “and technology is often the best way to achieve results. I realized that even as a young boy, playing around with Amiga computers. I understood their power and potential.” 

The Speed of Change

It’s often said that “change” is the defining word for the modern era, but Matt would append a qualifier to that.  

“It’s not just change,” he says. “It’s the speed of the change that’s critical. It’s accelerating, in everything from the climate to economics. And as the change accelerates, the issues we face become both more immediate and complex. It can seem daunting – but it’s also engaging and exciting. I really love tackling major challenges and finding ways through them.” 

Matt works in multiple sectors, but health care is a particular métier. And it’s an area, he observes, where clients often don’t understand how technology can help them better respond to sudden – even cataclysmic – changes. 

“Often, my job is showing them how to overcome an event that’s clearly negative, even potentially catastrophic – like COVID,” Matt says. “The coronavirus brought a lot of companies up short. They didn’t have the knowledge to make the necessary adaptions to what was happening. And we’ve been able to show them how technology doesn’t just help them weather the immediate crisis – it can transform their business for the long term, make them far more efficient, resilient, responsive to clients, and profitable.” 

The companies that came through COVID in good shape, Matt says, were those that understood that technology was not simply driving short-term survival strategies, but secular changes in the way business is conducted globally. 

“You saw some companies that mothballed entire teams as business dropped off and revenues fell,” says Matt. “And invariably, that was precisely the wrong response. Because the technologies that now underpin the world economy continued to evolve – more to the point, they were spurred by the coronavirus. The companies and agencies that remained invested, that applied advanced solutions as they developed, came out of the crisis with an immense advantage.” 

A Shift to Health Care Apps

Matt cites advances made in health care applications as an example. Before the pandemic, he observes, remote meetings between health care providers and patients were viewed as innovative and convenient, but by no means a standard for diagnosis or treatment. 

“Today they’re the baseline,” Matt says. “I live in Britain, and before COVID, the National Health Service’s app was fairly limited and lacking adoption. Now it’s the primary means for obtaining care. You make your appointments online, you meet with your doctors online, you fill your prescriptions online. All your medical records are available on your mobile device. It’s the biggest change in national health care in decades, and it never would have happened without COVID.  

“People who were completely blinkered on the power of technology have had their eyes opened. Yes, crises cause suffering. But oftentimes the best way to alleviate that suffering is through rapidly evolving technology. The end result is better tools and solutions – and then the only question becomes whether you adopt or ignore them.” 

Matt’s profession requires him to function as an ad hoc futurologist. So what does he see developing in the near-to-mid term? 

“My first thought may seem a bit out of left field,” he acknowledges, “but for the last six years or so, we’ve seen a broad transformation from email and website-based marketing to social media. But it turns out there are some profound deficiencies in the way large social media organizations handle their processes.  

“For example, if you get a malicious individual reporting posts, it can automatically shut down your business page for months with no effective recourse. And as a result, I’m seeing increasing evidence of both big and small companies moving back to more traditional forms of marketing. It’s an interesting trend, and one that may compel the big social media companies to become more transparent and customer-focused.” 

The Demand for Data Integration

Matt also sees significant changes looming for integration services.  

“Lately, almost every request we get is about integration,” he observes, “and integrating with Salesforce is increasingly a paramount focus. Certainly, deepening our partnership with Salesforce is integral to our strategic direction. That’s why I’m going to Dreamforce – for our industry, it’s one of the most important events of the year.” 

Also, says Matt, “The days of building siloed apps are gone. Everyone needs consistent data, the same data, real time data, data that everyone can access and trust. If there was ever a time when you could afford to wait a month for data, we’re way past that. The world is now integrated for data. You have to have access to it – and provide it – reliably and quickly to thrive.” 

“A Creative Soul”

Matt has worked for many companies over the course of two decades, and his skills in CRM are formidable. It’s been a long and interesting ride, one highlighted by rewarding, intellectually stimulating projects and friendships with some of the most dynamic and gifted digital technologists on the planet. 

“I’ve worked for some wonderful companies and with some incredible people, but I feel like I’ve found my proper place with Customertimes,” he says. “I’m basically a creative soul – I like to build new and different things and apply them to challenging problems. And that’s what I get to do at CT, where people come up to me every day, and say ‘I have an idea. How do we bring it to life? Or do you have a better approach?’ That’s what I love.” 

And what does he do with his spare time? Matt laughs. 

“I’d love to have some spare time, so I could figure out what to do with it,” he says. “No seriously, I have three wonderful kids – 14, 10, and 7 – so all my spare time is centered on them, and that’s just fine. Also, my family and I are renovating a house now – the money pit, we call it – so that’s a passion. And a time-consuming one.” 

But travel is another passion, and Matt has some family trips in the offing. But even here, his creative impulses come to the fore. He’s learned to distrust rigid itineraries; for him, the journey has become the point – not the destination. 

“One example – not long ago, we’d planned a trip to Italy,” Matt recalls. “We were going to visit Milan and Venice. But the airport bus didn’t arrive on time, so we missed our flight. The next flight to Milan wasn’t until the evening, so we took the first plane to Italy, which was bound for Pisa. My wife was furiously tapping her phone, desperately trying to find a place to stay. We got to Pisa – no car, no hotel – and somehow my wife found a three-bedroom apartment 50 yards from the tower. It was fabulous!”  

And when the family finally did get to Milan, they experienced a serendipitous reprise of Pisa.  

“We had no reservations, nothing arranged,” Matt says. “And again, my wife found a wonderful place on a little square close to the Milan Classical Music Festival. We’d just open our windows, and this beautiful music would waft in with the breeze. The only problem is that the kids now think that kind of thing is the standard holiday.

“I’m trying to lower their expectations a bit for future trips, pointing out that travel is always rewarding, no matter the setbacks and minor disappointments.” 

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