>> Friday, January 29, 2010
Unless you were living under a rock on Wednesday, chances are you saw coverage of Apple's new iPad—a half-inch thick slab of aluminum and glass that, in Apple's words, fills a niche between small mobile devices (like an iPhone) and a full-sized notebook. With built in wireless (via WiFi or, in some models, 3G) and thousands of apps ready to install (thanks to it's ability to run iPhone and iPod Touch applications from the App Store), the device has the potential to transform—or create new—markets and industries.
Like any new technology, it's our responsibility as an agency to assess the impact that it may have on our clients' business and to think about business-relevant ways to leverage it. iPad, though only about 48 hours old and not available for at least 60 days, is already having quite an impact on the health and wellness sector, with several ideas for its use emerging across the web and blogosphere.
Obvious potential exists with the sales force (at least, while there are still sales reps out in the field). Most pharma companies have shifted to digital promotion via Tablet PC, and detailing on Apple's new device seems like a logical (although potentially expensive) extension. Features like location awareness, always-on connectivity, long battery life and a light-weight form factor surpass most hardware that is deployed today, but it's missing key pieces on the software side of the equation, like CRM integration, interaction measurement, and fulfillment.
Digitizing the physician's office and hospitals is another huge market. Companies like Phreesia have focused on waiting rooms, using their devices for patient intake, triage and payment collection, but compared to the rich video playback capabilities of iPad and it's ability to run other applications (for example, symptom assessment tools, patient education content, etc...), this area seems ripe for new ideas. Then there are electronic health records and the potential to transform how patient data is captured and displayed (look at how the New York Times was able to replicate the essence of flipping through the paper version of the news...now imagine the manilla folder your doctor uses to keep your patient record).
We find wellness beyond the doctor's office—in real places like retail environments, gyms, and museums, and virtual ones like social networks—and iPad can, and will, find a home in these environments too. Will it be revolutionary? Or just a lot of experimentation in search of a purpose? Time will tell.
Innovation happens when there are unmet (or unknown) needs in the marketplace and someone has the willingness, time, money, and creativity to fill those needs. For all the features and services that iPad doesn't have, it DOES provide a new platform for marketers to innovate. For those who are adept at identifying new opportunities, seizing them before competitors, and delivering beyond the expectations of their people, this is the device they've been waiting for.