Information utilities gather, process, or distribute digital information on a usage basis just like energy utilities. Information Utilities provide very business-friendly options for outsourcing non-core mission-critical functions. And the market is only just getting started.
For a long time, the big technological challenge was transferring the world of paperwork and documentation to a digital format. That’s great stuff – important work that’s had a huge impact on businesses, healthcare, and individual lives. But the work that’s been done to date mostly just replicates the old system. It’s sort of like when electricity made it into people’s homes, and electric light bulbs replaced oil lamps. A big step, to be sure, but a far cry from where we’ve come since.
The Information Utility (IU) market is comprised of information processors who gather and aggregate information for specific needs, Software as a Service (SaaS) providers who offer specialized software on a hosted subscription basis, and on-demand infrastructure providers who manage scalable capacity for their clients. Healthx happens to land squarely at the confluence of all three of these IU categories, and we’re excited about the future.
When Thomas Edison’s Pearl Street electricity generating station became the first electricity utility in 1882, it combined the required elements of central generation, efficient distribution, successful end use (the light bulb), and a competitive price. Today’s information utility market is similarly poised for growth – perhaps most notably in terms of competitive pricing.
In the same way that customers’ desire for light was sufficient to give rise to the electricity market, today’s customers want access to information in easy, familiar formats of their own choosing. But really, that’s just replicating the paper world in digital format. What we’re excited about is what Edison, and then his company, General Electric, were excited about. We want to see what we can build in terms of entirely new “appliances” – new ways of doing work and improving lives with the information that flows through our utility.
Information is powerful. But applied information – shaped and selected and refined to the point that it becomes wisdom – is even more powerful. We’re interested in the invention of information appliances that serve corporations, improve quality of life for employees, that foster meaningful communication between caregivers and patients, and that have the power to eradicate diseases by shaping behaviors.
Individual companies will pour resources into developing their own appliances, but the smart money is on the utilities, who can develop solutions using agile approaches that evolve in technology-agnostic manners, flexing and adapting as one tool or another is in fashion, spreading the expense and risk of innovation across many customers, each of whom will enjoy the benefits of iteration.
Healthx is already the healthcare industry’s leading self-service communication and data integration platform, providing Information Utility services for over 23 million total members. The lights are on, and the next generation of inventors is already hard at work.
What about your business?
What do you think? Are we in the age of “information appliance development”?
Where do you see the Information Utilities industry going – what opportunities do you anticipate?
Are you interested in hearing more, or in discussing the future as we see it?