In competitive markets, many factors (not all of them related to quality or functionality) lead to what product becomes “dominant” in its class. Think VHS vs. Beta. AOL vs. Netscape. Word vs. Wordperfect. Blackberry vs. iPhone. Amazon vs. Barnes & Noble.
I thought of this market-based competition when I read about a current battle of competing technologies in the health care space – The David And Goliath Of Health Care: Apple’s Siri Vs. IBM’s Watson in Forbes, and Watson vs. Siri: A tale of David and Goliath? in FierceHealthIT. It is the competition between big data and convenience.
On one hand the massive amounts of health care data (big data) demands even larger and more powerful clinical decision support tools. Enter, Watson. Watson is an artificially intelligent, question answering computer system built by IBM and best known as the machine that competed on Jeopardy. In addition, Watson is crunching the comparative effectiveness numbers for health care, and insurance (see Finding Your “Watson” all members, Why & Where ‘Big Data’ Matters In Health & Human Services all members, Turning Your Clinical Team Into Watson all members and Innovate Or Else? all members).
And on the other hand, data needs to be collected and used as cheaply and efficiently as possible, and from where the consumers are. Enter, Siri. Siri is Apple’s personal assistant software, which responds to voice commands and provides information with just a request (see You Are Your Palm all members and Increased Consumer Tech Engagement = Success and The Number Of Tech-Enabled Professionals & Caregivers On the Increase all members). The ultimate in convenience.
The considerations of Watson vs. Siri represent two important issues for management teams in health and human service organizations. The obvious issue – it is still early in the applied technology evolution and it is not clear what technologies will become the dominant technology. This makes it more difficult to select new technologies – and important to develop an ROI that assumes replacement in the short term (see Getting The Best Tech ROI all members and Technology ROI: Value-Based Purchasing For Executives ). The second is broader and more about the issue of competitive advantage (see ‘By The Numbers’ Competitive Advantage all members and Keeping Your Competitive Advantage: The Technology You Need To Succeed Today & Win Tomorrow ).
The national coverage of these two powerful technologies comes on the heels of the latest Malcom Gladwell book David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, & The Art of Battling Giants. Using the Biblical story as his introduction, Mr. Gladwell focuses on how “underdogs” have defeated their established large adversaries using their status, strategy, speed, and surprise to their advantage. This is consistent with the best practice considerations in the face of disruptive innovation (see The Disruption Of Strategy all members and Implementing Strategy With Rapid Innovation In Mind all members).
In any market, whether technology or health and human service programs, understanding the factors that lead to success (of your own services and those of your competitors) is an important step. I think the title of part one in Mr. Gladwell’s book says it best – “The Advantages of Disadvantages (and the Disadvantages of Advantages)”. Strategies for success are about understanding your positioning compared to your competition – and using what you have to your best advantage.
For another free resource, see: Finding Your “Watson” all members