Brand loyalty is a thing of the past. Today’s enlightened consumer no longer sticks to a brand. Customers now want the experience. Their purchase decision depends on news, views, reviews, information, and demonstrations. Aiding them ably in their search for information, products and services, as well as their providers and sellers, are the ubiquitous mobile phone and social media.
Social media and mobile technology are two components in the new paradigm known as SMAC, with the other two being analytics and Cloud. SMAC is the new four letter word in business, which is causing both new entrepreneurs and established business houses to rethink the way they reach out to and interface with customers.
The reason for the rise in popularity of SMAC is quite simple. Social media sites are the watering hole for the consumer of today. This is where the new breed of buyer hangs, interfaces with like-minded people, and expresses his or her views. As a result, almost every enterprise has a presence in the social domain.
Mobile technology becomes important because of the pervasiveness of the technology, as well as the fact that most consumers invariably use mobile technology more often than not. With consumers moving towards a more well-researched approach to buying, particularly when it comes to high-value products, analytics and big data have also become critical. What’s more, cloud technology has taken this one step further and made it simpler as well as more economical for data and technology to integrate with mobiles, besides a multitude of other devices.
Each one of these four factors have a major influence on a company’s marketing strategy. However, by integrating the four, smarter firms have shifted the way they approach their customer base and brand value. All organizations, irrespective of size and maturity, have had to rethink their approach in light of these four factors. Moreover, it is not just the information technology industry that is affected by SMAC.
Almost all industries have had to integrate these factors into their approach; and healthcare is no different. Let’s take a look at how SMAC can and is influencing the healthcare landscape.
An organization’s social networking initiative does not begin and end with having a Facebook page. It is not just about getting more people to ‘Like’, or even ‘Follow’ you. In an area that is rife with people offering their advice and opinions on everything under the sun, it could well be the first point of contact and information-exchange between the hospital and patient. This is one channel where patients can exchange information with the hospital, and if the hospital succeeds in its social-networking initiative, convert that first interest into a hospital visit. Then, there is the wide spectrum of possibilities in terms of using these sites as an outreach program, or even for loyalty schemes.
One fact that cannot be ignored is that social media has become inextricably entwined with mobile technologies. With the emergence of mHealth, mobile technology is giving people the opportunity to get medical information anywhere, anytime, with a simple online search. It gives people the opportunity to arm themselves with information, as well as interface with healthcare organizations and experts. More and more people are using their mobile devices to fix appointments, communicate with physicians, follow up, and share information. There is no doubt that mobile technology has opened up a new dimension to the patient-physician relationship.
However, having access to information is one thing, and having the necessary infrastructure to analyze and process this information is another. This is where analytics comes in. With the focus shifting to reducing hospitalization, cutting costs, and preventative medicine, hospitals will need to do some heavy number crunching to achieve this. Hospitals and healthcare organizations need to invest in the right analytics infrastructure that is robust enough to deliver not just data, but smart data too.
With cloud computing, infrastructure does not have to be the heavy expense that it used to be. Cloud computing has taken the technology sector by storm, and has allowed organizations to invest in infrastructure that is safer and more secure at a fraction of the cost. With cloud, IT infrastructure is more streamlined, standardized and economical.
SMAC offers healthcare organizations a four-pronged tool to capitalize not just on new technology, but also on the new economics of it. Needless to say, SMAC provides a new roadmap for the success of the healthcare organization of tomorrow. Adopting this roadmap could well be the difference between the success or failure of the organization.
Learn more about George Vijay, our Healthcare Informatics Evangelist.
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