6 Digital Trends Shaping the Future of Health Care


I’ve been working with health brands for a number of years and, while the industry stays mostly under the radar in tech & media news, it’s been going through some major changes recently. From the transformation of the industry from “sick” care to true “health” care, to the tug of war between regulation and innovators, it’s a unique industry to watch and work within. As with all industries these days, the prevalence and accessibility of technology has been having a major impact and brands and marketers are struggling to adapt. I, for one, see great possibilities for innovation within health care both from within the industry and outside. In the presentation below I outline how I see technology diffusion affecting marketers and brands’ roles in the dialogue and practice of health and wellness. I’ve also presented examples for what I see are 6 digital trends that I believe will have the biggest impact on how physicians practice, patients learn & do, caregivers assist, and institutions manage health in the near future. As always, feedback is always welcome here or on twitter @gkofiannnan.



How companies learn your secrets and predict your next purchase

We knew that if we could identify [expecting mothers] in their second trimester, there’s a good chance we could capture them for years,” Pole told me. “As soon as we get them buying diapers from us, they’re going to start buying everything else too. If you’re rushing through the store, looking for bottles, and you pass orange juice, you’ll grab a carton. Oh, and there’s that new DVD I want. Soon, you’ll be buying cereal and paper towels from us, and keep coming back…Almost every major retailer, from grocery chains to investment banks to the U.S. Postal Service, has a “predictive analytics” department devoted to understanding not just consumers’ shopping habits but also their personal habits, so as to more efficiently market to them. “But Target has always been one of the smartest at this,” says Eric Siegel, a consultant and the chairman of a conference called Predictive Analytics World. “We’re living through a golden age of behavioral research. It’s amazing how much we can figure out about how people think now.

Picture walking into your local deli, and the owner recognizing you. Before you make it to the counter, the cook makes your “usual” sandwich, passes it to the cashier, who then bags it and hands it to you. All this with nothing more than pleasantries being exchanged. Now what if the deli was in a Target?

Well these days companies are trying to use predictive analysis to duplicate that process. But, of course, with all the Google and Facebook privacy concerns and horror stories of Target knowing a teen is pregnant before her parents, companies will have to think twice about what they do with all the info users are sharing with them. This’ll be an interesting space to watch going forward, and if you’re a marketer or a math nerd, opportunities abound.

Microsoft trying to make those Augmented Reality contact lenses from Mi4

Remember those facial recognition, augmented reality contact lenses in Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol (good movie by the way)? Well Microsoft and the university of Kansas are making some headway to making them a reality. Check the video beloww on the overview of the Augmented Reality lens project. Sidebar: I’m really liking Microsoft’s strategies these days. Seems they’re FINALLY realizing that the whole “We make Windows software and all other projects are only pet projects” thing is going away.

In a move that makes eye color correction seem boring, Microsoft and the University of Washington have made major advances in bringing augmented reality to contact lenses. The augmented reality lens receives radio signals and transmits them via optical nerves directly to the brain. The process was successfully tested on a rabbit, and the research team has the go-ahead to begin human trials.

While augmented reality has thus far been treated as something of a fad by corporations not involved with video games or marketing, Microsoft insists that incorporating the technology into a lens will make it practical for multiple applications. Possible uses include using facial recognition technology to assist security and police forces, or a virtual desktop that retrieves and displays information in the blink of an eye.

(via Microsoft Eyes Augmented Reality)

Is the internet harming us or are we just too old to cope?


I just finished reading Nick Bilton’s recent “I Live in the Future & Here’s How It Works“, a thoughtful book on the emergence of digital media and how it’s impacting our society. One of the concepts that has stuck with me is Bilton’s thoughts on how we naturally adapt to new media forms and learn to displace old ones in our daily life. As an example, he illustrates how the emergence of television caused people to change their media focus in homes, moving radio consumption to being experienced mostly in the car. Bilton makes a good point about how organizations demonize new media forms and their effect on learning and growth, especially in youth. Comic books were supposed to encourage juvenile delinquency, and now mobile and texting is supposed to limit children’s use and understanding of the English language. There are many studies to support both viewpoints, but one perspective I find lacking in the discourse is the youth’s perspective. Yes, media creation and consumption is in overdrive these days, but is it really a problem for ‘society’ or just the older of us? My 12-year old niece doesn’t seem to have a problem texting, watching tv, and listening to music all at the same time — in fact, she sees it as a natural habit. In discussing the impact of the media deluge and what it means society’s development, how much of the discussion is tainted by our individual ties to old habits and our hope that we won’t get left behind? In the short video below, 12-14 year-olds talk about their everyday media use and how they feel about it. For many of us over 35, the only habits we might find similar to the younger generation is that texting and studying is not a good combination.

What do you think? Are our feelings about today’s media diet tainted by our age and old habits? Can you teach an older dog new tricks? Comment here or wherever you interact with me.


How the world’s cheapest ($35) Android tablet is ‘Made in India’

The new Aakash android tablet has shaken up the tablet industry primarily because of it’s price point: $35. Aimed at students, the tablet is being regarded as a innovative example both in global tablet industry and in the aid industry, where it’s being seen as an alternative to the controversial $100 One Laptop Per Child device. The Aakash tablet is being marketed as a “Made in India” success story in hopes of championing India’s manufacturing industry. In this video Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO of UK-based tablet makers Datawind, speaks about the making of the Aakash and how they managed to keep the manufacturing price so low in India. The Aakash be sold as the DataWind Ubislate as of November 2011.

How Companies Compete to Capture Loyalty of New Global Middle Class

… U.S. middle-class cohort propelled GM past Ford into a leadership position among carmakers that lasted for the rest of the century.

Today, leaders of multinational corporations have a similarly lucrative opportunity on a much bigger playing field: a global middle-class market. This worldwide economic phenomenon encompasses a huge customer base. In 2011, it includes about 400 million people in the mature middle classes of the U.S., Europe, and Japan, and another 300 to 500 million people, depending on how the middle class is defined, in emerging economies. (The World Bank defines middle class as people who are above the median poverty line of their own countries. This might make them poor by the standards of Europe or the U.S., but gives them enough purchasing power to become consumers of manufactured goods and services.) This new global middle class is particularly evident in Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Turkey, Vietnam, and other countries with relatively large working populations and rapid economic growth rates.

The middle class in each of these emerging economies has its own unique profile of demand. However, they all have one thing in common: They are recovering from the global recession with an increasingly urbanized lifestyle, and their numbers are expanding at very high rates, especially compared with the rest of the world. The value chain of companies that provide this population with goods, services, and infrastructure is becoming known as the “global middle market.” Companies that secure leading positions within that market could well become the 21st-century equivalents of Alfred Sloan’s General Motors.

Talking digital, media, emerging markets at SXSW 2012. Vote!


Since the early 1990′s Austin, Texas has been home to the South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference and Festival, one of the biggest and – in my opinion – best conferences on new digital media, music, and film ideas. I’ve attended a few times both as a speaker and attendee and can honestly say that the content and community never ceases to disappoint. Voting is currently open for the SXSW PanelPicker, the conference system which allows the community to have a significant voice in programming Interactive, Film, and Music conference activities for SXSWeek 2012 (March 9-18). Here is a list of panel/talk proposals which have piqued my interest and I hope you will Vote for them as well. I’m involved in organizing the first two so please vote if you think the topics are interesting. Don’t worry if you can’t be in Austin, Texas next March. The SXSW organizers are pretty good about recording and releasing audio and video from the talks so you’ll still get to experience your favorite talks afterwards. Will you be attending? VOTE and ping me with any questions/comments.

Panel: Beg, Borrow, Bribe. Startups in Emerging Markets - VOTE

Organizer: G. Kofi Annan – Afrimonitor

Description: Startup culture is blossoming in emerging markets like, China, India and Africa. Entrepreneurs are even leaving Silicon Valley to launch startups in their native countries, and giving American businesses a run for their money. But what and who do have to know to be successful? And how easy is it? Find out.


Panel: iVision Africa:New Medias Role In Reframing AfricaVOTE

Organizer: Ngozi Odita – Society HAE


Jepchumba Thomas – African Digital Art Network

Ngozi Odita – Society HAE

Joshua Wanyama – Pamoja Media East Africa Limited

G. Kofi Annan – Afrimonitor.com

Bob Reid – The Africa Channel

Description: Africa is more than AIDS, poverty, civil strife and safaris. With the ever-increasing access to digital tools Africans on the continent and all over the world are using the web to farm a new vision of Africa in the 21st Century. Social media platforms amplify and help spread this “new take” on the continent, both enabling Africans to tell their own stories and offering an alternative to mainstream media’s coverage of Africa. Ultimately, using new media Africans can and are becoming the architects of what very well may be a new “African Renaissance.” This panel will look at how Africans are using the mobile and social web, what sort of content is being produced and what are the messages being communicated. The panel will also examine new media’s social and economic impact as it relates to Africa.


Panel: Africa, Tech & Women: The New Faces of Development – VOTE

Organizer: TMS Ruge – Project Diaspora


Ebele Okobi-Harris – Yahoo!

Liz Ngonzi – New York University Heyman Center for Philanthropy & Fundraising

TMS Ruge – Project Diaspora

Isis Nyong’o – InMobi Africa

Milly Businge – Kikuube Village Council

Description: This panel provides a rare glimpse into the multitude of ways African women are applying technology to advance Africa’s development. The panel aims to dispel the myths about African women as breeders and victims — incapable of participating in their own continent’s development, by: (1) showcasing contributions they are making in the technology field – through entrepreneurship, philanthropy, and community leadership; and (2) providing insights into how they are using technology to raise awareness about, mobilize campaigns against and address human rights violations. The panel will specifically explore how African women are using technology to make an impact through: – Digital advocacy to protect people’s rights – Social media to help grassroots organizations engage new supporters worldwide – Mobile advertising to enable small businesses to access new markets – Internet connectivity to integrate the often unheard community voices into the global conversation on development Throughout the discussion, panelists will provide anecdotes on how the resulting increased access to information, is altering the role of women in African society.


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14 Big Trends Affecting Americans this Year

THE July/August issue of The Atlantic Magazine features a fascinating list of the The 14 Biggest Ideas of the Year: “A guide to the intellectual trends that, for better or worse, are shaping America right now.” The magazine totes the rise of the middle class in emerging ecinomies as the #1 idea which will affect Americans in the coming years. Those of us who’ve been watching the space are not surprised, but the effects are still being felt.

The 14 Biggest Ideas of the Year

  1. The Rise of the Middle Class—Just Not Ours: “The emerging markets thus no longer represent just a “supply shock”; they are creating a “demand shock” too”
  2. Nothing Stays Secret : “…death of secrecy”
  3. The Rich Are Different From You and Me: “…vaulting ahead of everyone else”
  4. Elections Work: “…and Matter”
  5. The Arab Spring Is a Jobs Crisis
  6. Wall Street: Same as It Ever Was: problems persist and are worse
  7. Public Employee, Public Enemy: “…public employees are fat cats
  8. Grandma’s in the Basement (and Junior’s in the Attic)
  9. The Next War Will Be Digitized
  10. Bonds Are Dead (Long Live Bonds)
  11. Gay Is the New Normal
  12. The Players Own the Game: athletes control the sports business
  13. The Maniac Will Be Televised: “…agitation pays when it comes to maintaining a high profile”
  14. The Green Revolution Is Neither

The New York Times responds that these “ideas” are really more observations, going on to say:

It may strike you that none of these ideas seem particularly breathtaking. In fact, none of them are ideas. They are more on the order of observations. But one can’t really fault The Atlantic for mistaking commonplaces for intellectual vision. Ideas just aren’t what they used to be. Once upon a time, they could ignite fires of debate, stimulate other thoughts, incite revolutions and fundamentally change the ways we look at and think about the world

They could penetrate the general culture and make celebrities out of thinkers — notably Albert Einstein, but also Reinhold Niebuhr, Daniel Bell, Betty Friedan, Carl Sagan and Stephen Jay Gould, to name a few. The ideas themselves could even be made famous: for instance, for “the end of ideology,” “the medium is the message,” “the feminine mystique,” “the Big Bang theory,” “the end of history.” A big idea could capture the cover of Time — “Is God Dead?” — and intellectuals like Norman Mailer, William F. Buckley Jr. and Gore Vidal would even occasionally be invited to the couches of late-night talk shows. How long ago that was.

What do you think?




The New Shift to “The Start-Up of You”

Today’s college grads need to be aware that the rising trend in Silicon Valley is to evaluate employees every quarter, not annually. Because the merger of globalization and the I.T. revolution means new products are being phased in and out so fast that companies cannot afford to wait until the end of the year to figure out whether a team leader is doing a good job.

Whatever you may be thinking when you apply for a job today, you can be sure the employer is asking this: Can this person add value every hour, every day — more than a worker in India, a robot or a computer? Can he or she help my company adapt by not only doing the job today but also reinventing the job for tomorrow? And can he or she adapt with all the change, so my company can adapt and export more into the fastest-growing global markets? In today’s hyperconnected world, more and more companies cannot and will not hire people who don’t fulfill those criteria.

…(LinkedIn’s founder, Reid Garrett Hoffman)argues that professionals need an entirely new mind-set and skill set to compete. “The old paradigm of climb up a stable career ladder is dead and gone,” he said to me. “No career is a sure thing anymore. The uncertain, rapidly changing conditions in which entrepreneurs start companies is what it’s now like for all of us fashioning a career. Therefore you should approach career strategy the same way an entrepreneur approaches starting a business.”