Archive for the ‘Benchmarks’ Category
I had the pleasure of meeting Sukh this week at a round-table hosted by General Electric. Sukh took the group behind the scenes of Support Central – an absolutely awesome social and collaborative platform. Actually, it’s a work platform that just happens to be social. Brilliant. I learned a ton about delivering value through media.
Oliver Marks at ZDNet wrote this article on Support Central in July 2008.
Open Source Hardware, or OSH, is defined by the practice of openly sharing documentation that illustrates how to self-make electronic systems. In addition to document sharing, the OSH community strives to create modular electronic building blocks that make it easier for lay enthusiasts to develop their own customized gadgets, like a camera equipped with a GPS or accelerometer. These self-made gadgets then return customized information flows back to the enthusiast. Think of it this way, your Canon camera may not allow you to send photos immediately over WI-FI. These enthusiasts “hack” or re-model the camera using OSH building blocks that in turn, equip the camera with WI-FI functionality. This hacked camera could then upload photos to the web, like a cell phone does.
Consider the planter tool that Tweets the moisture status of the plant’s soil and nudges the owner to water. Or consider Bug Labs, who provides a consumer friendly electronic platform that can be customized into the desired end functionality. Using modules like GPS, mp3 player, and camera, each user can customize the exact gadget they desire, at any time. No longer are consumers chained to the product offerings of large electronics manufacturers.
Recently, I had the pleasure of interacting with leaders in the Open Source Hardware field. OSH builder and E-commerce outlet Spark Fun, gadget gurus Bug Labs, industry publication Make Magazine, and AdaFruit. All contributed to a rich discussion on how OSH creates value by lowering barriers to category entry for enthusiasts.
OSH starts with sourcing of widely available and cheap electronic parts, such as microprocessors, and modularizing outputs, like the Arduino chipboard, that can then be widely used to make new products. Consider this fact, microprocessors that were once the centerpiece of high powered computing devices in the late 90s and early 00s are now widely available for pennies. These chips possess enough power to the drive basic computing functions. Combined with clever thinking and engineering, these processors can be put to use in ways that create new value. Like the Lilypad, which is a micro controller designed to be woven into fabrics. As an example, the Lilypad controller could be used to power LED displays on clothing.
Communities don’t want to be used, they want to be fed. – Peter Semmelhack, CEO Bug Labs
Communities of enthusiasts are involved at every turn in OSH, sharing new ideas, applications, and suggestions to manufacturers and other enthusiasts. Spark Fun interacts with their community by asking for feedback and input on new designs and prototypes. “Sounds simple,” says Spark Fun founder Nathan Seidle. Spark Fun provided a recent example where a customer presented and idea on Monday, and by Wednesday, Spark Fun’s designers were busy putting together a prototype. By using lightweight agreements, Spark Fun is able to connect with customers, collaborate, iterate in a matter of weeks. By comparison, mass produced chip development cycles take months and years to play out. Community not only reduces the discovery cost of “finding” new innovations and applications, but also helps bring the most relevant products to market faster.
OSH is a small but fast growing segment of the consumer electronics industry. By leveraging open innovation models, OSH companies are not only faster to market than their big box competitors, but through their communities, keep development costs low while delivering the most relevant products to their customers.
OptumHealth, a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group, provides personalized health management solutions and makes health care more accessible for its consumers. One of Optum’s main communication channels with consumers is via its core websites, like MyCancerHub.com. OptumHealth actively engages users in conversations and provides digital spaces that help them connect with other users, experts, and professionals.
OptumHealth’s interactive team, builds collaborative websites that are flexible, scalable, and versatile. It’s important for consumers to not only have a rich experience on sites like MyCancerHub, but an easy to use community that facilitates connection during challenging times. Similar to Caring Bridge, MyCancerHub provides multiple resources for those individuals just diagnosed with cancer, living with cancer, and caregivers. The site also provides an “Ask a Nurse” feature which connects users with health professionals. MyCancerHub encourages patients and caregivers to share stories, learn more about their condition, and exchange emotional support with each other.
Optum also provides digital services for professional communities. In one example. a 6,000 member nursing community had a business objective to build a culture of retention. By building a on-line nursing community, Optum was able to improve retention for this nursing community by allowing nurses to make valuable connections with each other, thereby upping sentiment and retention.
OptumHealth’s successes and best practices are now being considered by its parent company for use in other areas of United Health, including possible internal applications behind the firewall.