I am passionate about events like tonight, because this is where start-up and corporate Australia meet. For me, this relationship is the new yin and yang, the new duality in our economy. An economy that is experiencing two tipping points:
1) We move from a problem-rich economy to an opportunity-rich economy.
2) We move from an economy of corporations to an economy of people.
Like in Chinese philosophy, where yin and yang describe seemingly opposite or contrary forces that are actually complementary, interconnected and give rise to each other, start-ups and corporates increasingly rely on each other. Let’s look at where they complement each other.
Large corporations tend to be asset-rich, have a large customer base providing deep insights and advanced support functions such as finance and HR. They tend to have advanced analytical capabilities as they are rich on problems, weaknesses and need to invest heavily into the management of compliance and conformance. As a consequence, they have matured the art of risk management. Most of all, large corporations are born in the economy of corporations, i.e. they believe in world designed around companies as the first class citizen of the economy. This world requires BSB and account numbers, boarding passes, company-specific passwords and paper-based prescriptions.
Entrepreneurs on the other side tend to be light on assets and have limited customers to interact with and learn from. Their back-office is often non-existent or under-developed meaning basic support processes lack effectiveness and efficiency. They are design-intensive and opportunity-driven. Most of all, they are digital natives born in the economy of people. In this world, customers own and bring their own data, finding replaces searching, and customers expect that companies they trust are faster than they are. In an economy of people, we do not think in B2B or B2C patterns, but we also facilitate C2C interactions. Just look at patientslikeme.com and how trust in peers complements, or competes with, trust in health care providers.
And you can go beyond the balance sheet – attitude, mindset, creativity, capabilities. The perfect yin and yang.
With other words – The O remains the poor cousin in the SWOT analyses of large corporations, while the O is the only thing, which counts for an entrepreneur. Corporations need Chief Opportunity Officers, entrepreneurs are nothing else.
Therefore, I believe being close to start-ups is the new source of competitive advantage, and vice versa. Access to entrepreneurial attitude, mindsets and creativity can help you filling the under-capitalised O.
What does this mean for your industry? First of all, I believe that industry boundaries are about to disappear, and should disappear, for two reasons .
First, the increased digitisation of nearly all industries has opened the floodgate for XTech, i.e. FinTech, BioTech, GovTech, PharmTech, etc. A dedicated PharmHack in Sydney earlier this year was devoted to this.
Second, if you do not look beyond your industry boundaries you most likely will only experience incremental, reactive improvements. Let me take an example from the utility industry. We are working with a local partner on finding additional value propositions. This brought us via a student design jam to the idea of the proactive toilet. This shows that your utility company might be your next trusted health service provider. Depending on your glucose level you time your insulin shots, or you time when you can conceive based on hormone levels, you know when you have been successful and you are pregnant, or your toilet spots that you simply have a hangover. Here is the opportunity: Once diagnosed, who proactively provides the required medication? Your trusted pharmacy. We call this minimising service latency. That is, how long does it take from life event to the ability to consume a related service? An innovative example is Pillo, the personal home health robot that dispenses pills based on facial and voice recognition.
One challenge in this opportunity-rich environment is to filter out those trends and technologies that matter. Here we propose the notion of purpose-led innovation. Let me take an example close to your industry, and you probably are aware of it. The largest US pharmacy chain CVS Health stopped selling tobacco two years ago sacrificing $2billion revenue. Why? They committed to the purpose “Helping people on their path to better health”. CVS now calls itself a pharmacy innovation company and transitioned from a drugstore chain to a health care giant with new services related to walk-in medical care.
So, where do I see the future of pharmacies? Like in other industries, I assume that the regulatory protection will start to disappear and we will see a similar development like in other industries, i.e. a triaging between convenience and experience. In this context, what could be your purpose? I suggest ‘’Individualised health care services for everyone.’ This will require highest levels of personalisation. A personalisation based on data your customers will bring to the pharmacy.
Just to give you one idea for what this could mean. We at QUT are partnering with the charity organisation Hear & Say to help 1 in 6,000 families, i.e. those children born with a deformed ear, so called Microtia. In the first of three steps we are conducting multi-disciplinary research to use 3D printing technologies to create affordable ear prosthetics. To put this into perspective: The current solution for these families is a $100k trip to the US for an ear reconstruction. We envisage a world where such 3D printed ears are available for less than $200. Once this research can be commercialised and rolled-out, pharmacies will be the retail channel for such individualised prosthetics. So be prepared to have scanning technologies, 3D printers and other rapid manufacturing technology for walk-in personalised services soon in your store and build up related digital literacy asap.
However, before this becomes a commercial opportunity for you, we need to continue our related research under circumstances that make access to national research funds difficult. This is why we ask for your help in our current crowd funding campaign, details: https://pozible.com/project/futurehear
In summary, I gave you two recommendations tonight:
1) In order to face this opportunity-rich world, you will need to develop the O-Factor. It might take too long to develop this internally, so surround yourselfes with entrepreneurs, applied researchers and develop an opportunity management capability.
2) Create a purpose that helps you to identify those trends that matter to you and your future customers. Personalised health services are an obvious choice, but the sources of personalisation will go beyond extremely qualified staff, it will require complementary, technological assets such as 3D printers.
Be mindful, that the future is probably closer to today than you think. So, aim to be the butcher, not the turkey on Thanksgiving Day .