Research Paper By Anja Serfontein
(Executive Coach, TAIWAN)
In January 2012 the Healthcare IT News wrote
Virtual Coaches keep overweight people on track.
The article referred to a study by the Center for Connected Health and Massachusetts General Hospital, that overweight people who made use of web-based virtual coaches (computer-animated coaches) showed more commitment to improving their health than those who didn’t. This research paper is not trying to argue the pro and cons of machine vs human – but instead highlights a change in the market for Coaches and Coachees and examines the opportunities – as well as threats – that result out of new developments like this.
Changes in the Communication culture According to Strategy Analytics:
Worldwide 1,551.4 million mobile handsets were sold in 2011, up 14 percent compared with 2010. According to ABI Research, total mobile app store revenues (…) will rise in the next five years, growing from $8.5 billion in 2011 to $46 billion in 2016.
This increase in hardware, as well as software has a profound influence on the way we communicate and interact with each other. Already today, the fear of being separated from one’s phone, a condition known as Nomophobia, is on the rise. Max Celko argues that if our devices become ‘alive’ via AI technology, acting as a mediator for self-discovery and self-realization, it might have far-reaching consequences.
This Research Paper argues that the worldwide increase of Smart Phone / Tablet users, as well as the Apps that are used with these devices will inevitable have a strong influence on the Coaching industry and its members. Is it worth to join the hype? And what benefits result from swimming against the current: there must be beauty in being “disconnected” in order to “be connected”. For this Research Paper Interview-based evidence has been used. (A sample of the interview questions can be found in the attachments.)
A market opportunity arises if a product or a service, based on either one technology or several, fulfils the need of a market better than the competition. Yuval Goren, a former high-tech Senior Executive became a personal development coach and created the self-improvement program “SuccessWizard” www.successwizard.com with the goal of helping a million people worldwide start enjoying lives that are filled with clarity, happiness and harmony. He saw at an early stage the opportunity that arose from the change in the market place that previously had the Self-help market (books, CDs, Audio programmes) on one side bridge of the two market areas by designing a web-based Coaching Programme that has real Coaches in the background available – but otherwise the client and the programme interact exclusively.
This is only one example of a Coach turning IT into a business opportunity. In chapter 3 there will be an overview of current market solutions – but in the meantime let’s look at the threats of the changes in the market field.