Coaching the Chasm – Week Two of Beta Testing GOQii Fitness Tracker With Integrated Coaching – Part 1

Executive Summary

Did you ever have one of those flashes of brilliance (at least you thought it was brilliant) in which seemingly unrelated cogent observations converge into one cohesive mega-observation only to have it whither in a miasma of mixed metaphors and inarticulate babble when you try to articulate it to someone else? I’m afraid that might be an apt description of this next series of posts. I won’t know until I’m done writing it. But in the end, this post and it’s sequel is a summary of week two of my beta test in the GOQii fitness band/app/health coach ecosystem. Previous posts on my experience are found in Wearable Fitness Trackers – A Chicken and Egg Problem That is Solved with Coaching and Week One of Beta Testing GOQII Fitness Tracker with Integrated Coaching. But first, some…

Background

I have over thirty years in the technology industry. But that doesn’t make me some technology guru-pundit who can easily spew deep tech business wisdom.  I don’t even own a mock turtleneck. No, most of my time in this sector is in the role of blue-collar, roll up your sleeves, get-er-done, kind of guy and less as the deep visionary thinker. Even in working out roles for my startup, we agreed the right title for me was Chief Operations Officer. But to explain where I think I am in this GOQii Beta Test, I need to don my guru garb and dig into some of the quaint old models that have driven tech industry vision and strategy for years. First there’s…

Crossing the Chasm

Crossing the Chasm is a model developed by Geoffrey Moore that describes the Technology Adoption Life Cycle. Here is a graphical depiction:

chasm

The basic premise is that new technologies in their earliest phases are bought by only a select few people/organizations. These are people who are willing to take on the risk of an untested product if it means getting a head start on the more risk averse.  Eventually, when this bleeding edge market becomes saturated. the tech hits a roadblock (the chasm).

The model goes on to explain how to cross the chasm by following different techniques depending on whether you’re selling to people with a specific problem the tech can fix (pragmatists), people who follow the pragmatist herd (conservatives), and people who buy a product because the old way of doing things is no longer sustainable (skeptics – you know, grandma and her AOL?).

As you can see in the picture, this model includes symbols for geologic land formations (chasms), recreational sports (bowling), weather events (tornadoes), and bucolic Americana (Main Street). And I was worried about mixed metaphors?

So that is the first model.  The second one is…

The Hype Cycle

The Hype Cycle is by the Gartner Group. While Crossing the Chasm is a strategy for companies to expand their market, the Hype Cycle is more of a map that allows interested parties to know where a specific technology is in its life-cycle. Here is what it looks like:

Gartner Group Hype Cycle

Because it is a map and not a strategy, the Hype Cycle is a little easier to follow. In summary, people may get excited about the promise of a new technology (e.g. 3D TV!, Virtual Reality!!). Then, in the early stages of the technology, they experience all the associated headaches (sometimes they are literal headaches. e.g. 3D TV!, Virtual Reality!!) . Eventually, the makers of the technology get their acts together and figure out how to make a version people actually want.

So, what does any of this have to do with my…

Beta Test of the GOQii Fitness Tracker with Integrated Coaching?

To get to that place, it will help to look at where the fitness tracker product family is in the Hype Cycle and then focus on GOQii specifically against the Crossing the Chasm model.

As discussed in the chicken-and-egg post, current owners of fitness trackers are stashing them in their junk drawers, never to be used again, about 6 months after they first get them. The reasons for this vary but the biggest is that they quickly stop being a source of motivation for following a healthy lifestyle. This puts the technology of fitness trackers squarely in the Trough of Disillusionment. This is a pit from which all fitness tracker manufacturers are hoping to emerge.

And where does GOQii stand relative to the Crossing the Chasm strategy? They are clearly Early Market. And given entrenched, big-name competition like Fitbit, Nike, Jawbone, and now Apple, all of whom already crossed the chasm, they’ve got quite the battle. The smart thing GOQii did was to add a live health coaching component to the offering. This is a Crossing the Chasm strategy that appeals to the Pragmatists (see brief Crossing the Chasm description above) by addressing the problem of “I want to live a healthier lifestyle, I am willing to invest in technology to help the process, but I need assistance in implementation and maintenance.” But is this enough?

If you follow the Crossing the Chasm model, no. Do you see that Bowling Alley in the Pragmatist section of the above Crossing the Chasm graph? That’s a very important part of the strategy. According to Moore, a technology company should find a narrow niche that is not currently served as well as it could be and focus it’s offering to satisfy that need. If executed well, the company will dominate that niche and it will be like knocking over the #1 pin in a bowling alley. More risk averse customers in adjacent sectors will feel comfortable with your product and, like neighboring pins in the bowling alley, they too will topple. Finally (WARNING: metaphor change. The author cannot be held responsible for whiplash or other injury), the product is swept up as if in a tornado. Everyone wants one (think iPhone; not 3D TV). You have become the 800 pound gorilla (yes, another metaphor change!).

I have no insight into GOQii’s marketing plans, but I see no sign they’ve found that #1 pin. In my next post, I’ll explore the options that GOQii seems to have.  All of that serves as background to my own personal experience, and my audacious claim at the opening that these observations all somehow converge.

 

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