Thursday, January 13, 2011

3 Business Ideas that May be Big Soon

The following three ideas have been around for some time. They have been incubating until the right amounts of fertile customers are available for them to spread past the prototype stage into the adoption stage. Two are convenience and one is just the application of reducing information for accurate business intelligence.

1. Paying by Mobile Phone

In the North American Market, a typical mobile phone bill is between 30 to 100 dollars. While that is not a big portion of someone with a car and home, for teenagers and people in their 20s, this might just be the biggest outflow of money if they are living at home. This also is usually their first entry into the credit market: starting a credit rating and a long-term payment agreement with a mobile phone company.

So now, Mr. Mobile Phone operator, why don’t you let these guys buy a pack of gum at the store and put it on their next phone bill? They do have a debit card for sure, but you want to keep them for life. If you offer this service – people will stay forever! (Anyway that’s the way I’d sell this to the phone company.)

I think that micro-payments, using the phone company as a mini-bank will happen sooner than later. But the issues are several:
• What interface will the store owner use?
• Existing debit/credit one?
• A new software interface over phone lines?
• How will the transaction work?
• Will phones have chips in them or will it be done by sending an SMS or making a phone call?
• What charges will the seller/buyer incur?

2. Mining Social Networks

This goes back to yesterday’s post about finding trends, but it also goes deep into finding key ideas, business influencers, and product information. We are already mining social networks today, but there is a lack of unification between the Psychological understanding of groups and the higher level of what this data means.

The business model must answer:
• If this solution can this be used by a third party on an open business network or does it need to be used by the host of the business network?
• Who is the user, an individual looking for information about another individual or about an organization?
• Will the product be used for spying on the competition?
• How can the accuracy of the conclusions being made about the mined data be tested against the facts existing in the brick and mortar world?
• What benefit does this give a company in pursuing its strategy?

3. Connected Home Healthcare

People are aging; their access to healthcare is not only limited by their ability to pay, but also by their ability to get someone to help them to the hospital. What if a heart rate monitor, blood pressure cuff, thermometer and stethoscope could be connected to an Internet-connected laptop or phone-line. The information would be sent to a virtual clinic (could be anywhere, India, China, or Cincinnati) and the doctor could prescribe medicine, monitor a treatment plan, or call emergency services for the patient.

Wouldn’t the hospitals be happy that the emergency rooms would be filled with less “Emergencies” because they were prevented? Plus this would offer some people actual health services that may never choose to go to a doctor at all. Plus it would benefit the medical provider because they would not need to maintain a clinic.

Questions that arrive with this business idea:
• How would the devices be tested by the doctor if they never left the patient’s house?
• How would payment be made?

• What laws surround malpractice and remote diagnosis and treatment?

• How would insurance know that a treatment occurred?
• Could these digital records (video conference even) be stored and accepted under national and international health records laws?
• How would you distribute the devices to the patients?
• Who would manufacture them?
• Would this solution work more developing countries or rural communities than for the United States?

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