Coaching the Chasm – Week Two of Beta Testing GOQii Fitness Tracker With Integrated Coaching – Part 2

Executive Summary

I’m a beta tester for a new fitness tracking device called GOQii. What sets this device apart from its competition is its integration with a real live health coach who uses the tracked information from the band plus data you enter through a smartphone app to help you reach your health goals. In Part 1 of this post, I describe the marketing environment for GOQii and its ilk as a setup to this post. In this post I discuss what I think GOQii needs to figure out to Cross the Chasm into mainstream viability. I will follow that up with discussion on my experience after two weeks with GOQii. If you’re interested in my initial impressions after one week, you can read about it here. But before going there we need to set some groundwork on the elements that comprise health. We’ll do that with a quick walk through of the relevant portion of…

Duke Integrative Medicine’s Wheel of Health


The Wheel of Health is a comprehensive perspective of well-being that encompasses all areas that effect your health. For this discussion we’ll focus on the green portions of the wheel.  Those are the areas where you have the biggest control over your health.  Briefly they include:

  • Mindful Awareness – paying attention to the present moment without judgement.
  • Movement, Exercise and Rest – physical activity and recovery.
  • Nutrition – What, when, and how you eat.
  • Physical Environment – your surroundings wherever you spend a lot of time.
  • Relationships and Communication – the strength and quality of relationships you have with family, friends, and colleagues.
  • Spirituality – the trait that answers the questions “Who am I?”, “Why am I here?”, and  “How will I live my life?”
  • Personal and Professional Development – where you stand with personal, career, and life goals.
  • Mind-Body Connection  – awareness of the two-way connection between the physical and mental aspects of your life and how they interact with each other.

Technology can easily be applied to monitor and assess you progress on all of these. Technology you wear on your wrist, however, is limited to a few. The rest of this post will explore technology as it applies to…

 The GOQii Ecosystem

Interaction with GOQii occurs in four settings:

  1. Data Tracked by the Device
  2. Data Entered by the User Via the Smartphone App
  3. Data Transferred Through a Third Party App
  4. Interaction with Selected Health Coach

Each of these offer an opportunity for GOQii to distinguish itself.  And distinguish itself it must.  Part 1 of this post describes pin #1 in the Bowling Alley; the definitive niche market to which GOQii must cater to be swept up in The Tornado. If they don’t do this, they’ll spread themselves too thin. Let’s look at each of these interface points and see if they offer a clue.

Data Tracked by the Device

At this level, there are just two basic  health stats that the device captures:

  1. # of Steps Taken (Movement, Exercise, and Rest)
  2. Duration and Quality of Sleep (Movement, Exercise, and Rest)

In addition, through the app, you can set an alarm that reminds you to move around if the band detects that you sat still for too long (Movement, Exercise, and Rest).

This is the basic level of information provided by most fitness trackers. Many have additional sensors, such as heart rate monitors, that expand the depth and breadth of automatically captured stats. At least with this version of the GOQii band, it doesn’t appear that this where GOQii wants to stand out.

Data Entered by the User Via Smartphone App

The world of tracked stats expands when exploring what is entered and tracked via the Smartphone App.  These include:

  1. Duration, intensity and type of physical activity (Movement, Exercise, and Rest)
  2. Free text description of food consumed (Nutrition)
  3. Amount of water consumed (Nutrition)

In addition, as a general marker of health, you can enter and track your weight.

There are many apps that support tracking these data points. These other apps, such as MapMyFitness and MyFitnessPal, offer a much richer user experience than the early stage GOQii app. But here, GOQii does two things that are very clever and may help them focus on that #1 pin in the Bowling Alley.

First on the clever list is the way users track their food consumption. On the page in the app where you enter consumed food, there is the following statement (in print that is not-so-friendly to eyes that >50 years old):

“GOQii is focused on providing you nutrition advice based on a balanced diet and mindful eating techniques. Hence we don’t focus on calorie counting. Just describe in a few words about your meal, attach a photo and your coach will be able to analyze your nutrition and food habits.”

This is brilliant on multiple levels:

  • It saves them from having to build their own food diary app.
  • It recognizes that almost no one likes tracking his or her food consumption in food diary apps. It’s just that horrible a process.
  • It provides a natural bridge for interaction with the all important coach that is part of the GOQii ecosystem.

The second clever thing GOQii does is the ability to have…

Data Transferred Through a Third Party App

According to GOQii’s  list,  there are about 25 other apps that GOQii can play nicely with. These apps offer further support and detail on specific dimensions of the Wheel of Health but mostly they’re focused on Nutrition,  Exercise, Movement, and Rest. They range from activity trackers to food diaries to vital sign monitors for people with diabetes. Why try and recreate the wheel in your own app when suitable alternatives already exist? Especially when these apps don’t threaten your competitive advantage? The competitive advantage that comes from…

Interaction with Selected Health Coach

GOQii’s competitive advantage is the integrated health coach who in concert with the technology, keep users motivated and committed to achieving health goals. They need to use the head start they have to work with users and their coaches to learn as much as possible about what works and what doesn’t in this relationship. Based on what they find, they should jettison the parts that aren’t part of their core competency and focus on the parts that appeal to people who want near real-time interaction with a health coach.

No individual coach can be available 24 hours a day/7 days a week. But with a well thought out integration of a high-touch personal health coach and technology that is available on demand, users get support when they need it.

But there is something else needed to make this strategy work, and it came to light from…

My Latest Interaction with my GOQii-Provided Health Coach

As you’ve noticed, the Wheel of Health acknowledges that your health is not driven purely by eating right and moving more. There are 6 other dimensions referenced on that wheel. For me, nutrition, activity, and rest are parts of my life that I have under control.  My Health Coach agrees! I need help in those other dimensions. I know I’m not alone here. I’ve coached other coaches and as a community, we tend to want help in our professional life, in our mind-body connection, or elsewhere. Rarely do we want support with nutrition or exercise.

With my Health Coach, I chose to focus on Personal and Professional Development. Specifically, I have a plan. And this plan includes my being a full-time Health Coach well into my retirement. To get there, I need to do things that I’ve never had to do before. This includes selling myself to potential clients. I’ve got tons of experience selling products. But I’ve never had to sell myself before.  I’ve always gotten by on my reputation alone. I don’t have a reputation as a Health Coach.

So my Health Coach is working with me to come up with a plan and I’m executing upon it. She’s doing everything right; everything a coach is supposed to do. Motivating me to execute the plan that will work the best for me. But in the end of the call, I asked her for advice based on her experience and she said the following (paraphrase).

Find the niche you want to work with. Then as soon as you think you have it well-defined, narrow it even further. If you do, you’ll invest time finding the clients with whom you’ll feel most effective. And when you’re successful with them, their network will hear about you and they’ll come to you too.

BAM! Mega-observation made! If that doesn’t sound like the Bowling Alley metaphor in Crossing the Chasm, what does? More like Coaching the Chasm.

So for that piece of wisdom, I offer the following…

Wisdom Back to GOQii

  1. Use this current period in which you stand alone to learn as much from your coaches and clients as possible.
  2. Get rid of all the parts of your ecosystem where you’re committing resources that arent’ part of your core competency. This may include the band.
  3. Find other potential partners with apps or technology that will allow you to expand your portfolio to cover more dimensions on the Wheel of Health. You don’t need to be married to that model if you don’t want to but surely you can find ways to better serve those who are looking for stress management, improved focus, etc.
  4. If those technology partners don’t exist, build the technology yourself.
  5. Continue to work on making the interaction between client, coach, and technology as seamless as possible.
  6. Give my coach a raise. You know who she is.

It seems like quaint, old Crossing the Chasm stands the test of time and has applications beyond technology. I’m going to have to read that one again.

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