Hugo Pinto is an asthmatic. He’s aware of the environmental triggers that can induce an asthma attack, but he wasn’t satisfied with the option that faces most asthmatics: wait until an attack happens, and treat the symptoms once it does.
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At a hackathon, Pinto teamed up with other developers with the same disease to hone in on solutions to their common cause. Within a few days, Pinto and his teammates had wired an Arduino microcontroller to Pinto’s inhaler, pulling in a host of data: his location, the date, local weather and air conditions, and more. Using those measurements, they developed models that could predict when Pinto might have another attack, and how best to handle the attack when it hit.
Pinto, managing director at Accenture Digital, shared this anecdote with his audience at ODSC Europe 2018 during a talk on human interaction with the data economy. The model for monetizing data, he said, relies on human trust to succeed.
Talking about the platform they developed at the hackathon, Pinto said, “we used it, and we very quickly started understanding that it was actually quite easy if we had the permission of user to track the use of the drug, and actually start understanding what were the triggers that were actually precipitating the crisis.”
Pinto and his teammates’ idea gained traction. After winning the hackathon with their entry, they springboarded into pitching their platform to healthcare providers. They received lots of pushback from the representatives they met with because their model was designed to help asthmatics use their inhalers less — a direct hit to their potential benefactors’ revenue streams.
“Then I started my usual rant around, ‘But guys, this is not about you selling more drugs or selling them more precisely or just in time. This is about creating a digital service. This is about removing the need to actually use your inhaler as much as you do today,’” Pinto said. “That has a value. It’s a different value, it’s a different business model. And it probably means that rather than making money out of drugs to tackle disease, you start making money out of health, so you become a health-driven company.”
“This is a fundamental change. This is probably the biggest human dimension that AI is going to challenge,” Pinto said.
Pinto claimed that consumer discomfort with new data-driven technologies creates friction that inhibits service providers’ ability to address their customers’ needs. Among the ‘missing links’, as he dubbed them, are “citizens that actually know what the companies that they buy products and services from want to do with their data and how they want to use AI to either provide different services or to operate better.”
Without that basic level of trust, he argued, there is no way for companies to access the data that they need to solve their customers’ problems in the first place.
“The real barrier is going to be, ‘Do people want this? Do people trust this?’” Pinto said.
Overcoming that obstacle poses rewards that are at least commensurate to the challenge. If a company can successfully earn their customers’ trust, it opens up new business models and avenues for revenue. That principle transcends the healthcare industry and touches other major sectors, including energy.
“This is a totally different service,” Pinto said. “This is not pound-per-megawatt or dollar-per-megawatt. This is dollar-per-accident-avoided or dollar-per-theft-avoided or dollar-per-alert-emitted. It’s a totally different business model, and it’s a very big mindset shift.”
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Companies are accelerating toward solutions for building trust with their user base, ranging from enhanced security to promises to silo their users’ data, or abstain from selling information to other companies. Any way they go about it, it’s another way for a company to edge out their competition.
“You’re either at the table or on the menu, so move quickly,” Pinto said.
You can find Pinto’s full speech on YouTube.