Here’s an opportunity.
Care technology distribution comes in two forms. One is big today, the other is far smaller, but I predict it will be vast.
There’s provider-led technology, which is (at least in part) publically funded. We see the hefty contracts from Medequip, NRS and Argenti (and others) fall within this bracket. Each of these giants has its innovation arm, and each offers its telecare tech. This offering is necessary to win the prized multi-year provider contracts.
Then there’s consumer-led tech. This is where Yokeru began; shooting into the retail market but not sticking. The providers I mentioned above also offer their services direct-to-consumers, but it’s a much smaller part of their connections and not ‘core’ to their business.
A few companies (Howz and MySense, for example) offer both successfully. The have consumer-facing branding (that gets better every time I check their website), and they have traction with public bodies. Solutions like these, however, are on the expensive-side for authorities.
At first glance, retail seems like the easier option: there are fewer people to convince on the buyer’s end (one or two), and there’s a faster sales cycle. Hell, when we started Yokeru, we thought a lot about selling direct to consumers. But the contract size is smaller, and it’s harder to scale. It also throws up some difficult ‘what happens if’ questions, such as who responds to a fall.
I recently read Clayton Christensen’s book The Prosperity Paradox
. In it, he develops the concept of nonconsumers.
“A majority of the innovations and business models that exist today are targeted at existing consumers—those who can already afford products on the market. [such as care providers and local authorities] … Nonconsumption is different. It’s the inability of a would-be consumer to purchase and use (consume) a product or service. … There are primarily four barriers or constraints that prevent people from consuming a solution that will help them make progress. They are: skill, wealth, access, and time.”
Nonconsumers in care tech is the consumer market.
Briefly looking at of the four barriers Christensen mentions, I think consumers do have the wealth and time to manage care technology. I’m generalizing, but most of us have time to watch Gogglebox, so installing and managing care devices designed to save time and increase oversight won’t be a big ask.
I also don’t think access is a problem. The ‘net means we can order anything.
The stumbling block is in skill. And by this, I mean integrations.
Consumers don’t understand how to set up and integrate the systems they buy. They don’t know who will respond when, or what to do with their information collected from their snazzy digital devices.
This barrier stops people from consuming.
By way of an example, I spoke to a digital systems lawyer yesterday (a technical man). He has gone to great lengths (spending time and money) to put together a care tech system. He and his family respond to the devices, but his local authority does not know about the set-up.
20%+ of TEC services are now purchased by private individuals. This represents a tiny proportion of the potential market.
Selling to these nonconsumers is a huge opportunity.