Being the first to market with emerging technology is a challenging yet rewarding mission. About 3 years ago, IPS was contracted by Motorola Solutions to productize a headset computer, now known as the Motorola HC1. It is one of the most interesting products we’d worked on. While our cross-functional engineering teams were in the design phase we saw a unique opportunity to create a software product that complemented the HC1 platform and was of value to the industries Motorola was targeting. At first glance, this seemed like a no brainer and appeared to have a lot of potential in becoming a business of its own, especially since very few Motorola ISV’s (Independent Software Vendors) were jumping onboard to develop on this new platform. As a result, the idea for the software product known today as “ENTERVISE” was born. ENTERVISE is a voice driven system solution which enables Mobile Professionals in the field to connect in real-time and via video and voice and confer with Remote Experts located anywhere in the world. Entervise also provides field staff with immediate access to stored documents and procedures to greatly enhance the efficiency and speed of completing tasks.
Fast forward 3 years. IPS has now released “ENTERVISE” and is gaining a lot of traction from potential customers. But closing on these deals has been very difficult. What is causing the sales cycle to be so long and arduous? When you look at the problems the ENTERVISE/HC1 solves, it seems like a win-win for potential customers. These companies’ field techs need access to critical data and remote experts while their hands are free to perform their tasks. Problem solved, right?? Well, maybe, but not yet. These potential customers are very cautious about jumping onto a nascent platform and moving away from their reliable laptops, toughbooks, tablets, smartphones, etc. But why?? Do you recall the reasons why the Microsoft “Tablet PC” failed in early 2000? The most common documented reasons were 1) they were too heavy and bulky for hand-holding, 2) not all software was designed for touch and virtual keyboard use, and 3) there weren’t enough applications built for the platform. But it’s very possible that the reason why the Microsoft “Tablet PC” failed in 2000 was because consumers were simply not ready to leap into a new technology arena. Maybe even with all the “early adopters” willing to invest in pilots, it’s still not enough to generate sales. Could it be as simple as that? Ten years after the failed MS tablet, Apple sold 300,000 units of their “new” tablet called the iPad at time of release. A month later unit sales soared to 1 Million and 6 months later nearly 15 Million iPad’s sold. Talk about market readiness and product adoption!
We are experiencing a slow adoption rate with the ENTERVISE/HC1 solution. There are several variables that contribute to this but I believe it’s mainly due to the newness of the technology. If you look at the Product Adoption Process at a high level (Awareness, Interest, Evaluation, Trial, Adoption/Rejection), we quickly get past the Awareness and Interest stages with customers due to the “wow factor” associated with the headset computer and being able to “talk” to a computer. There has not been a single person that I have shown the HC1 and ENTERVISE to who didn’t leave our conversation with a huge smile on their face from the experience they just had with the solution, but as we move towards the Trial stage the sales cycle slows. Many customers are asking for 60-90 day trials to figure out how this platform can “play nice” in their existing environments. Additionally, moving from mouse and keyboard input to a voice and head gesture input is a huge change in the way people perform computing tasks while out in the field. As we discuss deployment strategies with these customers they have a difficult time wrapping their heads around their field techs using a voice driven computer and the complexities that come with that.
Could it be that we are ahead of our time?? We don’t think so. With the announcement of Google Glass, Vuzix m100, Espon Moverio, and the like, we are sure the head wearables space will experience what the iPad experienced a few years back. We are also certain that the enterprise use case (field techs connecting with remote experts) is currently more compelling and more fully realized than any consumer solution. For now, we will just continue to fight the good fight, refine the user experience and continue to convincing the target markets of the value of this nascent technology.