In 2014, we saw numerous mobile health and telehealth acquisitions as larger companies ramped up their digital health strategies (Comstock 2014). These moves are more than business news headlines—they represent broad trends that are increasingly relevant to fitness and wellness professionals.
New mobile apps and online services give you abundant options for leveraging technology to interact with clients and expand your business. But which of these tools are right for you? Developing a coherent “investment strategy” for digital health can help you figure that out. Such a strategy can facilitate business growth and, perhaps more importantly, help smaller players avoid becoming obsolete. The key is to construct an appropriate “tech investment portfolio” that aligns with your fundamental business goals.
TECH INVESTMENTS: WILL THEY SHOW YOU THE MONEY?
Obviously, some businesses and situations are more suitable for leveraging certain technologies for growth than others. Where does your business fit in?
First, evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. Then, consider how each tech investment might affect your business over the near term (next 3–6 months), medium term (next 6–12 months) and long term (>12 months):
- Augments strengths? (If yes, invest.)
- Compromises strengths? (If yes, do not invest.)
- Augments weaknesses? (If yes, do not invest.)
- Mitigates weaknesses? (If yes, invest.)
From there, you can take a portfolio approach to the technology investments and leverage that portfolio to build your business. List the tech investments that will most augment your strengths and mitigate your weaknesses, and attempt to calculate the monetary value-add of those investments over the next 12 months. Also factor in nonmonetary considerations. If the aggregate value-add of adopting the new technology exceeds the aggregate costs for the initial 12 months, then go for it. If it is a close call, then consider whether the ongoing value-add exceeds the cost beyond the 12-month mark.
As is the case with most well-made investments, there is a good deal of due diligence (fancy word for research) and timing involved. The more experience you can obtain with a technology before making your investment, the more likely you will be to avoid poor technology investments, or to avoid the wrong investment at the wrong time in your growth trajectory.
If you are adept with trying new technologies, a good bet is to test-drive offerings provided by startups, which typically give free trials for their services. If technology is not your forte or you are looking for a turnkey option, you are better off considering products and services provided by more established companies.
For more information about investing in a portfolio of digital-health investments, plus a much wider discussion of the topic, please visit "Taking An Investor's Perspective To Leveraging Fitness Technology" in the online IDEA Library or in the January 2015 print issue of IDEA Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at (800) 999-4332, ext. 7.