Monday 26th of February 2018
On 28th April 2010

An Exclusive Interview with Kamran Ahsan from Staffordshire University, UK

"I do recommend open-access publication, that is why I contribute to the knowledge through the open-access platform."

I started my career during my academic studies. I had started developing small applications for SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprise), while I was doing PgD (Post graduate diploma) in Computer Science from University of Karachi in 2001. I did two bachelor degrees, one in computer science from Shah Abdul Latif University, Khairpur in 2001 and second in Commerce from University of Karachi in 1999. When I was doing Bachelor in Computer Science, I also did Cost and Management Accountancy (Foundation) from ICMAP in 2001. I finished my MCS (Master in Computer Science) in 2003 from University of Karachi and joined University of Karachi as a Lecturer; meanwhile I already started my professional software development career during my MCS when I joined RightSoft as a project manager and CodeBase Technologies as a developer for developing banking softwares. I found commerce application development interesting due to my dual background. During that time, I found Mobile Computing field interesting and I came in UK in 2004 for doing MS in Mobile Computer System at Staffordshire University, UK that ended in 2006. During my MS, I join Primary Care Connections, UK in 2005 as a web researcher and lead several projects from where I found healthcare field interesting and I found significant need of Mobile Computing applications for improving healthcare practices.

In this connection, I joined the Centre for Ageing and Mental Health in 2006 as a Web Researcher Lead. I am also working for Staffordshire University as a Lecturer and researcher since 2007. I have been offered Honorary Foreign Visiting Faculty at University of Karachi in 2009 which I had accepted. I recently finished an MBA (Masters of Business Administration) from Sweden which help me to manage my several projects simultaneously with my multiple job roles. I completed three courses (Effective Project Management, Applying Knowledge Management: Principles and Practices, Successful Change Management for Engineers, Scientists & Staff in Hi-Tech Companies) for my professional development trajectory from University of Oxford, UK in 2008. I am also involved in PhD research with Prof. Hanifa Shah and Prof. Paul Kingston, and the research project called Context Based Knowledge Management in healthcare. This is a collaborative project with NHS (National Health Service) and Staffordshire University, funded by NHS Trust UK.
I started my major research scholar career in 2007 with re-joining Staffordshire University as a researcher. So far my 17 research papers have been published on international forums apart from my involvement in other research activities on international level. I discuss and presented my work in several countries and I had been invited keynote speaker and session chair in several Symposiums/Workshops/Conferences/Universities throughout the world. I am also involved in other honorary activities such as members of several research Journals/Conferences/Magzines review committees. I am also involved in research funding bid writing and IT consultant to several business enterprises.

How did you gain interest in Mobile Computing and healthcare?
When I joined Primary Care Connections, UK in 2005 I was involved in a project connecting all primary care services through one platform. That was an innovative project in England for establishing a technological platform for healthcare professionals, enabling them to enhance their skills and update their knowledge using content management system. The final product, I presented at Lisbon, Portugal in 2006, got real attention from leading healthcare professionals especially from primary care expert. This event motivated me to get more involve in healthcare service improvement using mobile technology. As a result of that I successfully managed a research project and presented my research "Can New Mobile Technology Improve Quality of Life for Older People?" at Istanbul, Turkey. This research also gained the attention of several practitioners from community care who further evolved the project and shaped significantly new objectives, this facilitate me to deepen my investigation thus producing considerable outputs which increased my interest exponentially in Mobile Computing integration for healthcare.

What trend do you foresee in Mobile Computing and healthcare?
Health informatics is a vast field, and mobile technology involvement is significantly important for improving healthcare services. Mobile technology integration within healthcare services can play an important role for service improvement and evolve new techniques and methodologies for healthcare practitioners to improve decision support, quick actions for medical procedures, help in reduce error rate, service improvements, action based on live and most updated information impact good medical plan adaption in each case. Although Mobile technology is playing a good part for healthcare service improvement but in my opinion, mobile computing "applications" are still not mature enough to produce desire results and play its above-mentioned roles for healthcare services improvement. However, mobile computing is significantly improved in terms of communication, memory, equipment, etc, but there is still the need to understand the ubiquity for mobile application in healthcare scenarios. There is no fine line or reference model available to adapt these fancy technologies in various situations. So, there is a need to align mobile technology and healthcare services through a generic model. In my view, study of mobile technology in conjunction with community care, primary care and secondary care is really important areas to focus without forgetting electronic healthcare record, electronic prescription, electronic pharmacy, electronic appointment and distance care applications.

What did you investigate in your last publication?
We investigated Enterprise Architecture (EA) in the context of healthcare reference model. EA is a strategic activity for an enterprise and facilitates decision making by enabling a conceptual view of the enterprise. It has the potential to facilitate addressing healthcare units with business architecture. Adapting appropriate tools for management analysis and decision by healthcare management could have a significant impact on healthcare organizations such as in hospital goal achievement. Process analysis within EA has the potential to improve understanding of healthcare functions leading to better healthcare-IT alignment. The aim was to design and provide the insight of an EA approach to process architecture for healthcare-IT alignment. In that study, we analyzed healthcare organization processes within healthcare workflow cycles. The research conceptualizes and provides an overview of healthcare processes in the context of EA to improve healthcare management. We published this in ICIME (International Conference on Information Management & Evaluation) held in University of Cape Town, South Africa last month (March, 2010). The main reason for selecting this venue was to present our work and contributes to the knowledge on an appropriate platform. They had a separate session for EA that we really like to present our work.

How do you approach research? How long does it take to complete a paper?
I always use my cross academic discipline experiences and try to integrate theory and practice in an appropriate way. I try to utilize spiral approach to deal with various situations. Most of the time, I use action research methodology to approach particular problem with appropriate level of decomposition. Completing a paper significantly varies, it depend on a domain, complexity of topic, research team etc. As far as I am concern, I never try to focus paper writing, in my opinion it evolve automatically from research deliverables which is the complex and time consuming task. However, one needs to fine-tune deliverables to make it appropriate for communication, which can be possible in a few days if research outcomes already have been achieved.

What are the most interesting or surprising things you have learned about since your arrival at Staffordshire University?
Well, it is hard to say but most surprising things, I would say there are actually three. I learn quality rather than quantity and research approach from Prof. Hanifa Shah, I mean, in the professional route quality matters rather quantity. Although, by nature I do multiple things with time slicing but I learn that it affect quality. Especially in research, sometime you have to focus and forget everything else. Second thing I learn is problem analysis and accumulation from Prof. Paul Kingston. Last but not least, I believe on work rather than job and this I learn from Mr. Khawar Hameed, I mean, doing the right things which engage you in your passion is work rather than just doing the things right which is part of your job portfolio.

What topics have you been teaching so far at Staffordshire University?
I currently teach Enterprise Architecture, Knowledge Management, Mobile Communication Systems, Mobile Applications, Effective Information Systems and Research Methods as my main Courses. However, I did teach other courses before such as Strategic Planning and System Development, MIS (Management Information System), System Analysis and Design, Database Management Systems, and Effective Project Management.

What was your most successful moment?
I have still not achieved my aim set. However, in existing milestones, I think AMCIS Knowledge Management Session Chair invitation in 2009 at San Francisco and University of Cambridge invitation to speak on Context Based Knowledge Management in Feb, 2010 are the most successful milestones so far. As you know, AMCIS is the top most Information System Conference and University of Cambridge is one of the elite Universities. So in these contexts, these activities were most exciting moments so far.

Your recommendation(s) and advise for young researchers who would want to pursue research in Mobile Computing and healthcare?
Hmm! I would advice young researchers that they should focus on problem situation and research question in their "research" rather solutions that happened so often with young researchers when they try to attain their objective while panicking about solution and results. I recommend to young researchers that they should understand, that research outcomes and results should be independent of aim and objectives of research, and also there is no one perfect solution to a particular problem but an appropriate solution to improve the problem situation.

What are the current research projects you are working on?
Context Based Knowledge Management, Decision support for Discharge procedures and synchronization these procedures with admission processes, Optimize Theatre management, Survey Pattern analysis application for Recruitment processes in conjunction with Criminal Record Data, Service alignment for smart board training, Mobile Commerce Applications, RFID applications for effective work flow management and service automation by using mobile technology. Apart from these projects, I do IT consultancy for UK and Europe based enterprises to help to improve their business philosophy, business processes-IT alignments with their services, sustainable competitive advantage and consistent goal achievement.

Were you inspired by a famous scientist or engineer?
Yes, I was inspired by Prof. H. Jonkers for his contribution in Enterprise Architecture, Prof. I. Nonaka for his knowledge Management Model which comprises a range of strategies and practices used in an organization to identify, create, represent, distribute, and enable adoption of insights and experiences. I was also inspired by Prof. H. Shah for her ADaPPT model for Aligning Data People, Processes and Technology.

What is your feeling about open-access publication? Do you recommend it?
Yes, I do recommend open-access publication, that is why I contribute to the knowledge through the open-access platform as well as other research segments. However, it is good for two important reasons. First it is gives an equal opportunity for everyone who is interested in research including the research community with financial constrains. Second, if a research is not available on wide spectrum then evolutionary process of that research would be slow.

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