Just the other day I was talking with someone at work about the challenge of creating a ‘health wearable’ that’s distributed by a health insurance company.
Sure enough, this week there are two related articles.
Oscar Insurance will pay people cash to stay fit. I’m not sure walking 10,000 steps a day equals “staying fit”… but that’s a whole other conversation! They’ve partnered with Misfit to distribute health bands to Oscar Insurance members for free.
Jawbone is targeting employers instead of members, and offering discounts to companies who buy in bulk and subscribe to their service.
What’s the challenge?
Say you make a health band. You want to sell it to an insurance company or employer (let’s call the combination of these two ‘large company’) for distribution to their members/employees.
What’s the large company going to do with the band?
They’re going to want to integrate it into their benefits programs and software systems, and then distribute it to their people.
How long does that integration take?
If they do that integration wrong, do the people say “my company really messed up this great device” or “my Misfit/Jawbone sucks”?
It’s the latter, I’m sure. Which means both revenue and reputation are put at risk by poor software.
Companies have to make sure that they sell to the aggregators and that the aggregators successfully get their people using the product. There’s lot of transparency these days, and not just from hacked email accounts. Companies need to make sure they’re focused on the user’s experience with the product and make sure that the value is actually delivered all the way through the value chain.
In the app economy this kind of success is achieved with cool software.
IoT functional testing
How do we insert a software development lifecycle (SDLC) in between making the device and recognizing the value without adding delays?
How do we make sure that the software works the way it should? That developers writing software to the device are “doing it right”?
How do we make sure that the device’s API’s/software does what the developers need in order for them to do a good job integrating the device into their programs1, processes, and infrastructure?
What if Misfit or Jawbone could release a virtualized device interface for developers to start writing software even before the device is finished?
The SDLC would be shorter, because they’re developing while the device is being finished.
The final product would be higher quality because the developers could provide feedback sooner. Maybe even before the device is finished so that changes by Misfit/Jawbone could be incorporated before the device ships.
Everyone would make money sooner because the time to market has been compressed.
Let me restate that to be clear:
If the manufacturer delivered a “virtualized health band interface” to developers to perform functional testing against while the manufacturer completed designing and manufacturing the device we would be making the solution faster, better, and cheaper.
Not bad, right?
- employee benefit programs, I’m not using the word program to mean software [↩]