What is interoperability? It’s a seemingly simple question, but not one that has an entirely straightforward answer. Nonetheless, BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, provides “a common definition of interoperability” — to use the organization’s own words.
This definition is as follows: “The ability of computer systems or software to exchange and make use of information.” Even BCS concedes that this is “a very broad definition”; however, it does encapsulate much of the concept’s potentially beneficial effect while hinting at how this could be enhanced.
To explain how interoperability works, let’s take the analogy of two people who want to communicate with each other but don’t speak the same first language. How might a primarily English-speaking person be able to discuss something in-depth with someone mainly conversant in the French language instead?
Both parties could dip into their repertoire of second languages — if, indeed, they have them — and find one in which both are able to speak. Alternatively, they could forgo vocalizing altogether in favour of a non-verbal means of communication, such as sign language or Braille.
In essence, this would be interoperability in action. In a business communication context, however, it is more likely to mean reaching out to someone by email or social media when a more conventional method of communication, like telephoning, is out of the question — perhaps due to extortionate calling costs.
This is bound to depend on the nature of the task at hand. In some fields of work, it is especially crucial to ensure that workers across various workplaces can keep in touch with each other in a smooth and non cumbersome fashion — with the healthcare sector being a good case in point.
Here, patients can often be transferred from one healthcare provider or venue to another meaning that keeping particular clinical data intact and readily accessible throughout the patient’s journey can be imperative. Hence, efforts to weave various health information systems and data have accelerated.
In a recent US poll of ambulatory healthcare decision-makers from around the country, 76% perceived a direct connection between interoperability and achieving better patient outcomes, as reported in a press release published by Business Wire.
For this purpose, your business would benefit from a telecoms solution where various communication options — including instant messaging (IM), CRM, and other apps — are all tied to one easy-to-use portal, making for what could be referred to as a unified communications solution.
That way, many different calls, emails, and messages from customers or clients can all easily reach you without you having to regularly juggle and switch between a wide range of separate communication tools.
With the Horizon business phone systems from Gamma, for example, companies can even ease interoperability between their mobile phones and fixed, office-based telephones. Consequently, even staff members away from the office, perhaps as a result of embarking on business trips, wouldn’t have to miss calls from especially vital contacts.