What is Techno-health?
Do different industries have different techno-health? Techno-health refers to different levels of technical maturity and currency or sophistication of their technology? If you are in a segment that doesn’t generally use technology; is it a waste for you to spend more money on technology than the norm for your segment? If you aren’t spending on technology like your peers; are you putting your company in the backseat? Many companies in an industry just don’t get it when a disruption is happening and can’t seem to adjust even when they realize it is happening.
Industry history, Financial as an example
Talking to many different people in different industries it’s apparent different industries are in different levels of technology usage at different times. This is not something that is inherent to an industry but can be driven by what the technology is and if it makes sense for that industry at that time.
During the 80s and 90s the financial industry went from archaic technology in many parts of their business to becoming leading edge. Many people forget that when my company TIBCO went into Wall Street most of the firms were using video switching technology for their trading desks. Almost all back office technology was mainframe and distributed systems and minicomputers, time sharing or even desktops, were unknown. Finance firms did not do much with networking or things like email.
TIBCO was part of a storm (maybe an instigator) of investment by financial companies in hi-tech that caused them to acquire and test new technology first. In a few short years largely because of TIBCO most financial firms were using the latest SUN Microsystems engineering workstations with multiple screens and employing digital data distribution instead of analog which allowed creating a publish/subscribe paradigm that allowed any trader to see any information. I called it a triple play of disruption in which networking, application presentation and hardware evolved simultaneously to disrupt an industry. When TIBCO started in the financial industry heavy weight players like IBM, DEC, Reuters, Quotron, FD consulting and other firms most of whom were vastly bigger than us dominated finance. Within a few short years the big players exited the market and the other companies went bankrupt. The disruption was severe and complete. Wall Street was changed and become magnets for technology consuming practically everything anybody could invent.
For decades the financial industry had requirements that exceeded Telcos. Telcos for many years prior to that were the highest/most intensive users of technology but in the mid-80s through 90s finance companies dominated. People forget that this wasn’t always the case. They don’t seem to realize it may be the case that finance may go back to the way it was in the 60s and 70s and be simply “average” consumer of technology.
What has happened in the last 10 years of the cloud and the financial implosion of 2008 is that the financial companies are facing “stagnation” and more conservatism. Most banks I talked to last week are reeling under the requirements from regulators, reducing costs to meet falling margins. For years the financial industry was in an “arms” race with hi-tech in what was called HST (High speed trading) which meant companies were trying to get faster and faster at trading to the point of ridiculousness. They also were trying to create new high profit types of financial instruments. I don’t want to sound judgmental but some of this activity was not economically useful.
The crash represented the culmination of Wall Streets hubris and belief that technology could conquer all problems financial and a concomitant excess of the federal government in believing that they could suspend the laws of financial risk and do virtually anything and somehow there was enough money and fancy new instruments and technology to prevent anything bad happening. Well, that proved wrong and I think everybody’s expectations of what you can do with technology in finance has become more muted. The government has a tendency to overshoot on regulation in my opinion frequently but whatever the reason it is clear that financial companies are not the same leading edge industry as it used to be. That is not to say that wall street isn’t a technology powerhouse and that it has still some of the most advanced technology but let’s look at what has changed.
Health, Logistics, Retail are the new investors in disruptive technology
The 6 disruptive forces in the tech industry are Cloud, Mobile, BigData, Social, Open Source, APIs. These forces have had more of an impact on different industries than finance. Finance companies are today only marginally interested in mobile, social, open source and cloud. Some financial firms that are more retail oriented are more interested in some of these technologies however they still do not represent the leading edge of adoption. We have seen the Retail industry and Advertising, Healthcare, Gaming, Music, News, Video take a much bigger move towards technology in the last 10 years.
Retail firms of all types, small or large are feeling a tremendous disruption because of these forces. New firms are emerging who do these things well and others are languishing who can’t figure it out. Any firm in any industry that markets to consumers is similarly faced with tremendous pressure to figure out the new technology.
Underlying these disruptive forces changing the way consumers and companies interact with their suppliers is a massive change in cost because of the cloud and companies are seeing new ways of generating money by empowering a massive storm of tech risk takers who would like to build on their APIs and services. Apple and Google did this first but a lot of this is generated today by a wide variety of companies in every sector that touches consumers.
Even more recently we are seeing for the first time in a long while a sustained increase in health-tech spending. More and more people see the new technologies as being ways to transform our health care industry not only to deal with changing laws from the feds but also as a way to actually improve health care in America and save costs. We might save billions by improving the systems for managing health care but the real benefit of technology will be if we can improve outcomes.
Can we use BigData to discover new risk scenarios from combinations of therapies or foods or environments? Can we use IOT’s to monitor and help people before something gets serious? Can we monitor the outcome of a procedure with IOTs and give people freedom to leave the hospital sooner? Can we use mobile devices to educate people and get them information sooner? Can we manage care better with mobile devices?
Advertising is undergoing massive disruption. Advertising was a slow low-tech business until recently. The advent of the cloud, mobile, social has opened the door to lots of new companies to disrupt existing players. Some firms are building transaction and processing systems that the banks don’t even come close to. One advertising firm I am talking to is building a system to do 70 billion transactions a day or more.
These things may be possible because of new disruptive technologies and they can have enormous impact on our economy and quality of life. We spend well over 3 trillion dollars on healthcare in America alone. A 10% improvement because of these forces may be easily possible and that 300 billion dollars would be a staggering improvement in Americas cost and benefits from our health care spending.
Logistics is another area just seeing the start of a massive impact from the disruptive forces. How do you get products and services you need? The ability to communicate with the closest free cab using Uber is a good case in point but it is not the only company disrupting logistics.
Disruptive technologies affect different industries in different ways at different times. For some firms this technology becomes critical to their continuing existence and they need to execute or change business strategy dramatically.
The 60s and 70s saw the Telco firms adopt new technology more rapidly and more intensely than any other industry with all industries generally investing in technology for back-end systems. The 80s and 90s were focused a lot more on financial firms adopting technology most rapidly.
The last 15 years have seen the emergence of Mobile and the Cloud and this has impacted first Gaming, Retail, Music, TV and other digital IP related industries like news and education. Now we are seeing a big increase in impact on Health, Logistics and possibly Car Industry with the emergence of IOT as a significant part of the disruptive technologies bailiwick.
The Connected Business is the culmination of all the technology change going on today:
All of these technologies together comprise what I call the “Connected Business.” Does your business need to be connected to your customers and partners better? Do you need to offer them the connectivity they would like rather than what you can do today? If they want a PaaS or an API from you can you give it to them? If they want to do iPaaS and integrate with your services, can you give it to them or mobile apps? More at home can you connect all your services and people internally in every way that would make sense? A connected business is connected internally and externally in any way that is the preference and decision of the user of the service not what you have.
What are pieces of the disruptive technology stack:
API Management (Enabling creation of new value by leveraging reuse and creativity of external developers or firms)
Mobile (Enabling consumers to leverage your services and for you to reach them with new services)
Social (enabling transparency and new analytics to meet consumers needs)
Can you utilize the cloud to reduce costs and turn fixed costs into variable expenses?
Can you utilize the cloud to build IOTs and connect them to Apps, WebApps, Mobile Apps or APIs easily?
Can you break your enterprise down into services that you can sell independently or package in new ways to partners, new creative developers outside your company to leverage?
Can you deploy and manage mobile applications across all your services securely and quickly?
Can you collect information on how people utilize your services, how and what they are doing or their health to more rapidly offer them intelligent services?
Can you analyze the information that you collect to make actionable decisions?
Can you leverage the latest technology in open source so you don’t become dependent on vendor lock-in?