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Optimism in the SAP communities for 2009? Yes – Healthcare and higher education can help!

A new perspective

The bad news on TV and in the newspapers are very boring. As only “bad news are good news” seems to reign a lot of positive headlines seem to be underestimated at the moment. Even in the SAP communities two industries need more attention as they are unstoppable growth sectors in the crisis: healthcare and higher education & reserach. Just have a look on a featured story in businessweek. Moreover these sectors offer unique opportunities for SAP experts even if they have not been focussed on these industries in the past.

The rationale for optimism

The overall reasons for an unstoppable growth in these industries are quite simple:

1. People could not choose whether they become sick or not. With a huge retirement wave under way for the baby boomer generation the demand from patients for world-class care will increase steadily. At the same time the payer organizations demand even more cost efficiency. That is nothing different than a request for investments in IT. The current landscapes in healthcare IT are very heterogeneous and overall interoperability projects are still in an early stage. President-elect Barack Obama has therefore given investments in the IT for healthcare a high priority in his economic stimulus plan.

2. Investments are steadily increasing in higher education & reserach all over the world. Government leaders understand today that the competitiveness of their countries in the future depends on their investments today. Moreover people who have problems to find new jobs are going back to higher education in order to get new qualifications. As the generation which is entering the universities now consists of digital natives they expect a state-of-the-art IT infrastructure to work with. Therefore universities, colleges and other institutions have no choice than to invest in a mid-term perspective.

What’s in for you?

The huge demand for IT in healthcare and higher education offers unique opportunities also for SAP experts who have had no industry focus in the past. Just some examples:

1. HR experts

The demand for qualified employees is still growing. Hospitals have problems to add enough qualified nurses to their workforce. As many hospitals still have home-grown or outdated HR systems with a huge focus on payroll and personnel administration SAP HR experts could use this unique opportunity to create new projects.

2. Integration experts

Interoperability is the name of the game for healthcare as well as for higher education. SAP integration experts with limited former healthcare experiences need to make themselves familiar with the most important interoperability standard in healthcare – HL7. my colleagze Bettina Lieske from the SAP solution management has written an excellent SAP at the International HL7 Interoperability Conferencewhich could help you a lot to get a quick overview. For higher education a paper from the IBU Higher education and research provides you information how to implement an XI-based integration scenario to connect the SAP Student Lifecycle Management with other applications.

3. CRM experts

For healthcare as well as for higher education the relationship management with their customer becomes more and more important. Therefore a lot of projects are emerging at the moment in these areas. Just have a look at the CRM-case studies for Patient Relationship Management in a Hospital Group with SAP Customer Relationship Management and SAP Advancement. A combination between industry experts and CRM experts will be necessary with a lot of opportunities to work in new projects in 2009.

4. Portal experts

Healthcare organizations as well as higher education entities are consolidating their heterogeneous system landscapes. Portals play an important role. What makes these projects even more attractive for portal experts: Web 2.0 scenarios are not nice-to-have but crucial for these scenarios as people already use Web 2.0 sites today. Just have a look at an example. Portal-based projects must therefore offer compelling integration scenarios.

5. Security experts

Last but not least: Security experts are in huge demand. Healthcare data is highly confidential. The same is true for personal education records. Security experts should make themselves familiar with the security standards. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is the most important one in healthcare.

These are just some examples from these two industries whose growth is for sure in 2009. Over the next weeks with additional blogs I will try to offer more information on growth opportunities in these industries.

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