Karl Etzel, Porter Consulting fitness technology expert
With all the (somewhat justified) hype about wearable devices, service providers and retailers in the fitness and technology industry should be thinking about what this trend means to their business. Having been a user of wearables since at least a decade before they became “Wearables”, I can offer a few thoughts.
Most importantly, focus on the data that the wearables provide, not the devices themselves. The hardware is changing (some even say commoditizing) rapidly, and it won’t serve you in the long run to make plans around any one vendor or device. This means if you are rolling out a service, tailor it for a broadly recognized data set that yields actionable information. If you are building an app or web service, consider a middleware layer or aggregation platform that will reduce or eliminate the chances of lock-in and the cost of integration to any one device vendor. Apple HealthKit and Google Fit get a lot of press, but there are other options that are worth considering that may offer more flexibility depending on your needs.
Secondly, think about the value of that data in the context of the problem your customers already hire you to solve. Because wearables bring such drastic changes in the availability of data, you need to think broadly about what exactly your customers are buying from you. Just as a fine restaurant really sells experiences—not food—you may actually sell something bigger than just the product that you exchange with the customer. This type of strategy requires deep knowledge of the customer and a knowledge of why they chose you in the first place. For example, Sensoria and others make instrumented running socks that yield data that can change how you sell running shoes. Another example is Zepp; they make a sensor that analyzes a golf swing, data that can be very valuable to a retailer trying to help a customer select clubs. The data from such devices give the retailer an opportunity to position themselves as consultants and performance coaches, rather than merely as equipment resellers.
Finally, it helps to take a staged approach to the brave new world of fitness technology. You don’t need to restructure your whole business at once, which is a high risk proposition. But you also can’t let the changing landscape paralyze you. Take small steps, learn by doing, and as always, stay closely engaged with your customers. The world is still coming to terms with e-commerce (and guess what, many e-commerce companies are opening up brick and mortar locations…), so there is no reason to think that fitness technology will be any different.
For additional perspective on wearable data take a look at my earlier article (http://www.fitbusinesstech.com/?p=84) on the analysis of wearable data, and contact Porter Consulting to talk about how we can help you position your business to take advantage of these exciting trends. I can be reached at kretzel(at)porterconsulting(dot)net.
Karl Etzel is a guest blogger for Porter Consulting. You can read more of his blogs at the Porter Consulting website at http://porterconsulting.net