Interview Madhu Nutakki
Madhu Nutakki was appointed Chief Technology Officer in August 2021 and is thus the newest member of the Executive Board at the Zur Rose Group. Innovation is Nutakki's world – whether it is digital transformation, digital marketing or global ecosystems.
Madhu Nutakki, you’ve been CTO at the Zur Rose Group for more than half a year now. You previously worked for the Nissan Motor Corporation in Japan and Kaiser Permanente, among other companies. At the latter, the U.S. health maintenance organisation, your most recent position was Vice President Digital Health Applications and Platforms. What made you decide to become part of the Swiss Zur Rose Group?
M.N. — The Corona pandemic has highlighted that healthcare is a fundamental pillar for the entire economy. The European healthcare sector in particular has enormous potential in terms of digital transformation. Being actively involved in this development has been a great incentive for me. One of the most important lessons I have learned from my career so far in a wide variety of industries: The end consumer has the greatest benefit from technological solutions. Therefore, technology should be embraced as an opportunity and not a threat. I joined the Zur Rose Group at a time when digital customer expectations are continuously increasing and government framework conditions are also developing in the direction of digitalisation. At Zur Rose, I am not only able to work in an international organisation that is a key player in its industry with its vision to become the leading European healthcare ecosystem. Ultimately, returning to the healthcare industry also feels like coming home.
The European healthcare sector has enormous potential in terms of digital transformation.
You come from an international environment and you yourself are an American. Where do you see the European healthcare system at the moment in comparison to the USA or Asia? Where do we in Europe have to catch up in particular in terms of digital health?
M. N. — Digitisation is inevitable – regardless of the sector or location. I truly believe that the healthcare sector determines the timing of the digital transformation itself, i.e. it sets its own pace. This is due to the enormous complexity of the industry, which is also one of the few that is actually capable of «touching people's lives» to a decisive extent. Also, digitalisation of healthcare is heavily dependent on the particular system of social values of a country. It should therefore be less of a question of who is at the forefront but rather who is lagging behind. What really matters is whether all the relevant factors can come together in the specific region: Are people ready? Are the regulatory frameworks in place? Are the underlying value chains sufficiently mature? These are just a few of many essential questions. One of the concrete upcoming opportunities to integrate digital health into the everyday lives of people in Europe is, for example, via the introduction of electronic prescriptions. This requires a well-thought-out roadmap that also always keeps customer convenience in mind.
«One of the concrete upcoming opportunities to integrate digital health into the everyday lives of people in Europe is, for example, via the introduction of electronic prescriptions.»
You just mentioned the Zur Rose Group’s vision to become the leading European healthcare ecosystem. Is that one of the topics that is a main point on your CTO agenda at the moment?
M. N. — Our vision of becoming the leading European healthcare ecosystem is certainly one of the topics that my team and I currently have a strong focus on. Achieving this goal requires a good combination of short-term tactics and long-term planning. 80 per cent of all digitalisation measures are always the same, irrespective of the industry: Gathering customer-centric experiences, leveraging data, adopting a mobile-first approach, and implementing value into the ecosystem. In the end, the remaining 20 per cent is where the Zur Rose Group is able to make the difference.
One major lesson I learned in my professional career was to never take the customer for granted. At the same time, as a software engineer, I was taught the «superpower» behind digital solutions. Balancing these two aspects – having the necessary empathy towards the customer and leveraging the power of software – is what I focus on now and will continue to do so in the future.
«One major lesson I learned in my professional career was to never take the customer for granted.»
You are not only in charge of the technology-driven topics of the Group – and thus throughout Europe – but also of the three tech hubs in Barcelona, Berlin and Winterthur. What is the main focus for 2022?
M. N. — It's important for me to be able to think outside the box. I don't think it's appropriate to just chase after future-oriented developments such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Cloud, Robotic Process Automation or Blockchain. I see my job as fulfilled when I – together with a team of experienced designers, product managers, software enthusiasts and data jugglers – can develop a range of solutions that are not only convenient, but also offer actual value to users. In a world turned upside down by Covid-19, the concept of a technology hub has also fundamentally changed. While the importance of location per se has greatly diminished, it is collaboration and the ability to add value that has become the all-distinguishing feature. We will continue to pool expertise in each of the three hubs, but with product-oriented specialisations in mind. My overarching goal is to empower every employee – regardless of location – to make their own decisions.
«I am interested in creating a sustainable foundation that allows us to develop products and functions that enrich the lives of customers.»
The DocMorris app is and will be the digital flagship of the Zur Rose Group. How satisfied are you with the current status and what can users expect in terms of further development in 2022?
M. N. — Here’s a little anecdote: I remember my first mobile application, which was also in the health industry and which I worked on more than a decade ago. The initial version was jam-packed with bells and whistles , so one of the product managers called it «cute and functional». In the end, the release did not meet with the expected success. The relevant insight behind this story? An app is just one of many channels. But what we really want to achieve is to establish an empathetic connection with the user. The numerous brands of the Zur Rose Group have already built up a strong trust among customers. The digital channel behind them must now also deliver on this promise. Convenience is the underlying value, trust the key benefit and experience is king.
Our current concern for customers in Germany is to make the path to the e-prescription as seamless and intuitive as possible via the DocMorris app. The app is a relevant channel towards a more comprehensive health journey for our customers.
Finally, let’s take a look into the crystal ball: Where do you see the European healthcare system in general and the Zur Rose Group in particular in five years?
M. N. — Developments in the health sector are not really predictable – and that is at the same time one of its greatest strengths. After all, who could have predicted the global impact of the pandemic, for example? I am not interested in jumping on trends. Instead, I am interested in creating a sustainable foundation that allows us to develop products and functions that enrich the lives of customers – irrespective of current trends.
Creating a connected health journey for people in Europe is not a distant dream. Many of the key components are already being implemented step by step. The Zur Rose Group is an established, strong brand in the healthcare sector and can therefore contribute its accumulated knowledge about its customers – especially when it comes to their needs and expectations. The collaborations that have already taken place also show the commitment Zur Rose has to the digitalisation of European healthcare. Last but not least, one of my key goals is to transform current users into longterm digital health advocates at an early stage.
Madhu Nutakki is American and born in India. The visionary brings over 20 years of experience in the successful transformation of organisations and their technologies and business.