Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Technology vs. Subject Matter Expertise

My day job is to sell/market/promote mobile technology for home care agencies.  I have been here ( for just over a year now, and I have learned a significant amount about the home care, healthcare, and technology space.  This is what I wanted out of my new career and it has been a great learning experience.

One of the great learnings is that sending data reliably over a wireless network is hard.  Having two systems talk together reliably and quickly is hard.  It makes me realize that the technology and architecture it takes to send email, texts, GPS signals, and other wireless forms of communication, that Research in Motion, Apple, and the Telco's have done is very impressive.  Reliable.  Secure.  Fast.  Impressive.

Now to the point of this post.  In healthcare, and most likely every other space, there is the technology component of the software and the subject matter expertise.  Often the two are not the same, and very rarely are the technology experts also the subject matter experts.  It's difficult to be great in both areas.  What's more important?  I will use our home healthcare space as an example.  If the technology works every time, but it's not relevant to the nurses, does it matter?  If the work flow on the mobile device is optimal, but only sends information 80% of the time, will nurses adopt it?  Can you have both?  Yes, and you NEED both.  But in order of importance, get the technology stable first, build the workflows second.  That's the fundamental lesson here.  Stable technology is more important than anything else when you begin.

Entrepreneurs are famous for thinking they know everything.  They are usually very smart and often successful, and they have a history of project and business successes.  Of course they know what to do, what it is supposed to do, and how it works.  But I think as technology gets more complex, and the applications that are being created are getting more complex, it is going to take more than 1 person/1 level of expertise to be successful.  Our biggest competitor has the technology figured out, but they don't know the industry that well.  We know the industry better than any other software vendor, but the technology is less than reliable.  Right now we are struggling and they are winning.  When we figure out how to solve the stability issues, nurses, therapists, and personal support workers will be looking forward to our application before our competitors.  We have been told that time and time again.  I just hope we figure out the technology before our competitor figures out the industry.

Thanks for reading.


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