Swipe Hand, No Water, Cross Chasm

Recently I was at a conference in Ohio. In the bathroom washing my hands, bamboozled when multiple swipes of my hand, in front of the faucet, did not result in running water. Tricky, it was one of those “old fashioned twentieth century” faucets, you actually had to exert pressure on the faucet handle to turn on the water. Reflecting on this, turning an idiot moment into an insight win, no handle touchless faucets have crossed the chasm into the majority market. Product and market evolution in a snapshot.

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.
John F. Kennedy

CaraSolva, the company I lead, provides systems to help caregivers or individuals with chronic health conditions co-ordinate care while living in the community. An electronic checklist of medications, vitals, care tasks, calendar events, nutrition, exercise, etc. interfaced to care providers. Products like our MedSupport eMAR. The result is improved health outcomes and less paperwork. The system works great and we get amazing customer feedback. Very rewarding.

The majority of our initial customers were “early adopters” – visionaries. Change agents who worked with us on early versions of our product, clearly saw the problem we are solving, willing to take a risk to help improve health outcomes and reduce costs.

We are now working primarily with prospects and customers who are part of the majority of the market. They would be termed “pragmatists”. Much of my thought process here is based on the work of Geoffrey Moore in “Crossing the Chasm”. The chasm being that gap between the early adopter and the majority of the market. It’s not easy to make that jump. I was lucky enough to personally meet Geoffrey when working for Access Graphics in the 1990s. Geoffrey consulted with us and helped grow Access from $500M to $2B over 4 years. It was an exciting time and made me passionate about Geoffrey’s approach.

At CaraSolva, like Access Graphics, we find “pragmatists” have a set of characteristics that with a stable and effective product we can really appeal to. In healthcare, for understandable reasons, there are a lot of companies and individuals with the pragmatist profile. They:

  • Dislike risk – A potential waste of time and money.
  • Are loyal, once won, and enthusiastically make our product the company standard.
  • Care about the reputation of the company, product quality, infrastructure, and reliability.
  • Want to buy from a proven market leader.
  • Are reasonably price sensitive, but understand price must cover the quality service they require, mitigate risk, and guarantee vendor longevity
  • At times are hard to identify because they do not actively attract attention like visionaries.

It’s a lot of fun working with and providing value to these customers, and takes a different approach and organizational structure than working with ‘early adopters’. One of the reasons why crossing that chasm is difficult.

What’s this got to do with waving hands in front of an old fashioned faucet, like a flailing magician, and presto water does not gush. There will be a time, in the not too distant future, caregivers and individuals with chronic health conditions, will not be able to conceive of having to sort through confusing pill bottles, paper care instructions, activity logs, etc. They will assume all this critical information is on an easy to use electronic point of care checklist. Chasm crossed, and a distant gap in the rear view mirror.