Trend analyst Max Celko from Hybrid-reality argues
If virtual therapy systems become very advanced at some point in the future, certain aspects of the coaching profession might get outsourced to technology, similar to the way lawyers today are already getting outsourced to text scanning devices to a certain extent.
Is this a paradigm of the future? Not quite –the future already became presence:
In September 2011 the company TNM Coaching introduced during the ICF Conference in Las Vegas an App with the name of ‘niggle’. It is a stand-alone solution
made for everybody who has a niggle = something that irritates you, worries you or stops you from having fun
This app was build on the idea that human coaches often come with
a pre-attachment to an outcome
It is currently free-of-charge and hence is an attractive alternative for users to turn to their iPhone, which is available 24/7 – instead of finding a suitable Coach to address an issue they may face. Is the IT (r)evolution effecting all Coaching niches in the same way? Currently the trend seems to be unstoppable for Life Coaching and Health & Wellness Coaching. Dr. Brian Alman, founder of TruSage International states:
Thanks to the Internet and mobile phones, [people] are wired together in an information network that facilitates remote health/wellness coaching. Delivered at a fraction of the costs of face-to-face care, mobile wellness….
he furthermore stresses
Clients want convenient access to effective, affordable wellness advice.
Even in the arena of Business there are new technologies and systems are entering the market that can be either perceived as a Threat or an Opportunity: Creel Price is currently in a very smart way building with his Decisionship (www.decisionship.com) a huge database to help Business Owners and Managers to get unstuck and arrive at sensible decisions faster. Clearly a threat to conventional Business & ExecutiveCoaches, who perhaps might have had the business of these people.
So what are currently the options that clients are having when trying to resolve certain issues or getting un-stuck?
Based on the author’s own observation of the market field there are currently 4 categories of Coaching-solutions for Coachees available:
- A human Coach: Homo sapiens, who choose the profession of becoming a Coach. Surely, they might utilize technologies to connect with their clients: 6i.e. via phone, VOIP, noomii (Coach Directory), eMail, … but otherwise it is down to two individuals (or more if it is Group Coaching).
- A stand-alone technology solution: Mostly mobile applications, that mirror certain processes within the Coaching relationship: value clarification, goal setting, accountability, milestones, motivation, gratitude exercises, … but are otherwise detached from the real Coach. i.e. iPhone Apps: Goal Achiever, Niggle, SuperBetter,
- A hybrid solution (Coach focused): the Coach outsources certain aspects of the Coaching relationship to high-tech solutions: i.e. continuous client reflections like JournalEngine TM Software (www.journalengine.com)
- A hybrid solution (Technology focused): the Client is most of the time interacting with the system to define goals, reflect and measure success –but is able to connect to a real (human) Coach whenever the need for deeper questioning is arising. i.e. SuccessWizard (www.successwizard.com), invivoplay (www.invivoplay.com)
Ben Croft, Founder and President of WBECS noted:
The challenges around the analysis requires a human / a Coach. The questions (as asked in niggle) are great as an introduction to Coaching and as a novelty people will be using it – but afterwards they don’t see enough value to continue it
Croft points out, that it is necessary to take these developments to the next level. In other words to ensure a value-added analysis or help in the decision-making arena. The future clearly holds immense opportunities for those who try to invent the wheel in a new way!
The key success factors are those elements that are necessary in order succeed in a changed market field. Coaches, who are interested in utilizing new technologies and firm believers of creating passive income models, should consider the following factors:
- Adaptability: just because Coaching has been done in a certain way – does not mean it will have to stay this way forever. Telephone and VOIP enabled Coaching people on the side of the planet. New systems will enable new forms of Coaching.
- Visionary thinking: if you could think boldly – how would your “Coach/Coaching-tool-in-the-pocket” look like? What features does it need to hold?
What sets it apart from the competitors?
if one does not come equipped with a degree in IT the task of creating a Coaching Application can feel overwhelming and challenging. The
author noticed that many Coaching applications that are currently in the market have been created by developers without any former Coaching Training or certification. In order to protect the Coaching profession – it would be wise if real Coaches are giving their input on these developments and steering the project.
Trust in partnering:
Who says one has to do it alone? Finding a suitable partner and creating a lasting cooperation is a key success point in any venture.
Besides a Coaching Partner one may find suitable developers and IT specialists on platforms like www.elance.com
The other side
In the introduction the author questioned if it is worth to join the hype. Well, as much as there is an opportunity for new technologies to get developed and new avenues for Coaching to be opened up. In the same way there will be – perhaps a smaller niche – opening up for Coaches, who are putting up little retreat islands to escape all of the Technology craze. We are able to connect with more and morenpeople at the speed of light – and yet what does it help if the answer to our very own problems lie within us! Then it is better to unplug yourself and look inwards!
After conducting many interviews with different market players, the author comes to the conclusion that the current changes in the market field is not only an addition to the current “Distribution Channels” as we have seen it in VOIP (i.e. skype) for example. It furthermore challenges the future Coach to think about his/her very own Business Strategy and what alliances it shall entail. Even though current IT Coaching solutions, as well as AI systems are no substitute for interactions with a real human, they do have the potential to improve our quality of life.
Especially in a time when proactivity and constant self-development are becoming a precondition for being successful in life, virtual therapy and coaching