Ride The Information Tidal Wave: Crush or be Crushed

If you’re in any business at all, you must read Data Crush: How the Information Tidal Wave Is Driving New Business Opportunities by Christopher Surdak; pay extra attention to Data Crush if you’re in the health and wellness industry. Why?

With the information tidal wave, prepare to crush or be crushed.Data Crush

Just as brick-and-mortar retail is yielding to online competition–or to business models that successful create a rich hybrid experience of online vs. physical retail, so too medicine is morphing into telemedicine, the world of mobile medical apps, and whatever may come next.

This includes: artificial intelligence, nanobot diagnostics and therapeutics, personalized genomic interventions, apps that contain clinical algorithms which will diagnose and treat disease, and much more.

How can businesses adapt?

Surdak, a technology consultant who is adding a law degree to his existing credentials, identifies 7 key trends that will affect the future of healthcare, among other businesses:

  • Mobility
  • Virtual living
  • Digital commerce
  • Online entertainment
  • Cloud computing
  • Big Data

Accordingly, Surdak follows his colleague John Mancini, CEO of the Association of Information and Image Management, in recommending the following to every business, to stay successful:

  • Make everything mobile
  • Digitize processes
  • Make the business social
  • Automate information
  • Mine aggregated information
  • Commit to the Cloud

Data Crush is, in my view, a visionary work and valuable contribution. Surdak, in successive chapters, identifies some key drivers, including:

  • Contextification – companies tailoring messages to “the market of one,” by locating a particular customer in time and space and responding to the customer’s individualized needs (even before they are articulated by the customer)
  • Socialification – companies will generate loyalty by taking “steps to tap into our engagement with our digital tribes”
  • Quantification – companies will orchestrate outsourcing by predictively modeling the most cost-effective and efficient outcomes
  • Appification – concierge apps will tie together information from various sources and anticipate customer needs so as to recommend purchases targeted toward those needs
  • Cloudification – data processing and storage will move entirely to the cloud
  • Thingification – products and objects will be “smart,” reminding consumers to make certain purchases or making the purchases themselves

Put these all together and the world has changed from mass consumer marketing to laser-focused, individualized marketing based on machine intelligence that knows more about the consumer than he or she knows can be known.

Surdak provides recommendations for companies to take advantage of these trends–including, for example, implementing “cloudification, quantification … to make your business crowdsourceable.”

We already see these trends in the health and wellness industry: as mentioned, physical encounters with doctors are giving way to online, mobile, digital encounters; healthcare is becoming more patient-centric with consumers looking more to fitness, wellness and preventative care (sharing milestones with friends through social apps connected to fitness trackers); and even companies like Apple are entering the health and wellness arena with products that take advantage of these trends.


Christopher Surdak

Surdak writes of automatic scheduling of physician visits (appification and contextification); genome mapping (data enabling); predictive analytics in disease diagnosis (contextification and appification); and organ manufacturing from stem cells.

One of the insights Surdak (photo, right) offers that should give anyone pause, is that the more one posts online via social networks, the more those networks learn about the person and can then share these consumer preferences with third party vendors. Eventually, Facebook may know more about your intimate habits than your best friend. This means that whoever has access to the data can market directly to you in ways that take advantage of this deep, intimate familiarity with (literally) your likes.

The more you share, the easier and more targeted the marketing.

It’s 1984 meets Minority Report meets Philip Kotler 2.0.

This should be obvious to anyone who sees how much of their personal lives people are pouring into the public domain, yet, people seem willing to compromise their privacy and few stop to think about the Orwellian implications.

Surdak’s final chapter gives examples of how this will all come together in the marketing of the not-too-distant-future (2020, he proposes).

The vision he presents makes me think of a spin on the old joke about two such-and-such who walk into a bar. The future rewrite is more like this:

“Joe and Fred walk within 250 yards of a Starbucks, and the Starbucks says, ‘Joe, I know you like lattes with extra cream, and Fred, you like to take Wednesday afternoons off and do client development over a double-shot espresso, so here’s a coupon, if you just turn left at the light and head into our store.”

When I grew up, the TV announcer would say something like, “don’t touch that dial — it’s time for The Three Stooges.” Invariably, though, I did touch the dial, if I wanted to watch another show. The announcer’s imperative simply wasn’t a strong enough incentive.

This time, it may be your shopping cart calling out: “John, don’t load those bbq chips – you’re already 178 calories over your weekly goal – unless you want to spend an extra 15.4 minutes on the elliptical tonight.” And if you ignore the call, your cart – whom you’ve “friended” – will alert your social media network, putting peer pressure to work on your diet and exercise regime.

Let’s give Surdak the last word here: “Marketing is the business of reaching consumers’ wallets by engaging with their hearts and minds…. advertisers can profile each individual user to such an extent that they can target them with advertising that reaches each customer at a deep, fundamental level… Once a company is prepared to deal with every single customer as an individual and once that company has access to a detailed profile of each customer, it can advance from mere customer engagement to customer intimacy … establishing a level of trust that can lead to tremendous brand loyalty and hence, profitability.”

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