Governor’s Life Sciences Focus Will Benefit the Bay State

Governor Deval Patrick has had a few solid wins of late. At the risk of sounding partisan, the Governor’s varying initiatives to create new jobs is good news for all Massachusetts residents.
Whether he’s rallying the clean/green sector through the Green Communities Act, encouraging the growth of the Bay State robotics industry or pushing big data as the next Massachusetts IT sector, his various initiatives to help the local economy recover are encouraging.

Last week the Governor attended the grand opening of a new Thermo Fisher Scientific Center for Excellence in Tewksbury. The facility promises to add another 100 jobs in research, development and manufacturing over the next five years. The Tewksbury ribbon-cutting ceremony marks another event in a series of announcements preceding this week’s BIO International Convention at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center.

Back in 2008, the Governor inked a 10-year, $1 billion investment package designed to spur research, investment, innovation and commercialization in the Bay State’s life sciences industry. Apparently it’s working: The Massachusetts Biotechnology Council reports that R&D jobs in Massachusetts increased from 46,380 in 2008 to 48,647 in 2010. The biopharma sector has seen more than 52 percent job growth since 2001, and statewide more than 80,000 employees currently work in life sciences or related industries.

Many experts believe that number will increase as more companies—especially European-based biotechnology and life science players–set up local operations in Massachusetts. In fact, “at least 15 companies from Europe have set up shop or expanded operations in the Bay State over the past four years,” according to a recent article in the Boston Globe.

No matter how you cut it, this is great news for Bay State businesses, consumers and job seekers. Keep up the great work, Governor.

Barbara Call is director of content at Greenough.

Massachusetts Big Data Initiatives Can Spur Economic Growth

Last week Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, joined by key representatives from MIT and Intel Corporation, announced the “Massachusetts Big Data Initiative,” a collaborative effort to position the Bay State as a global center for the big data industry. Big data refers to the business of dissecting and analyzing the enormous stream of digital information generated everyday by consumers working, shopping or socializing online.
This announcement, paired with the Governor’s focus on expanding both the Massachusetts renewable energy and robotics industries, bodes well for our state’s economic recovery, and it could provide a model for other states to follow.

According to a recent report from the Mass Technology Leadership Council (MassTLC), 120+ Boston-area companies are currently working with big data technologies and those firms employ about 12,000 people in the Bay State alone. MassTLC estimates that an additional 58,000 related workers, including data scientists and data managers, are working in such industries as healthcare, online media and financial services. Most importantly, MassTLC estimates that growth in both areas could add 50,000 jobs by 2018.

We applaud the efforts of industry leaders such as MIT and Intel Corporation, other big data innovators, such as Endeca (recently acquired by Oracle), and smaller companies that include Tokutek and Hadapt.

Bring on the big data—we’re ready for the next technology chapter in and around the Massachusetts Route 128 belt.

Barbara Call is director of content for Greenough.

 

Developing Vendor Content? Go Global, but Go Local

IT professionals in many developing countries and regions “are ready to listen to IT vendors from the developed world,” according to a recent survey of 3,217 IT professionals in 114 territories from IDG Connect. One traditional way of starting a conversation—using vendor content—still works, but the study shows that many of the IT professionals in these developing nations want “local content.”
What, exactly, is localized content? Content that addresses the particular challenges these IT professionals are facing in their specific city, country or region. In other words, local analysis, regional reports, localized case studies or “in-the-trenches” thought leadership, to name a few.

Lest you think developing a stream of local content requires a significant cost investment, think again. There’s a relatively easy way to research those local and regional issues—use your salespeople, executives or product managers in the countries where you do business (or the countries you’re targeting). Use your army on the ground, so to speak, to engage those customers on a regular basis. Much like a trade journalist who asks his readers, “What are your pain points?” then goes on to write about those issues, your foot soldiers can ferret out the local concerns or problems.

The next step: Set up a formal process for collecting and gathering this “intelligence,” then implement a plan for turning that fact-gathering into meaningful localized content.  It can be as simple as a thought leadership blog post that identifies how your company is solving XYZ in country ABC or a case study that demonstrates how your company solved issues A, B and C for your customer in XYZ.

Bottom line, according to IDG Connect? “In most of the rest of the world outside North America, the demand for content is extremely strong. And meeting this demand with some degree of local customization will almost certainly pay dividends in terms of engagement.”

Have you been successful at developing localized content? If so, tell us what you’re doing and why it works.

Barbara Call is director of content at Greenough.

 

IT Healthcare Vendors: Don’t Forget Social Media’s Role in Healthcare Reform

Top-20-EMR-Software-Solutions-large (1) (2)

Top-20-EMR-Software-Solutions-large (1) (2)

Hospitals and health practices today are governed by a number of standards and regulations, including the HITECH Act,  that encourage the adoption and meaningful use of electronic health systems with an investment in health information technology.

Today, IT is enabling healthcare facilities to not only meet these regulatory needs but at the same time improve all practice areas, from patient management to revenue, with solutions such as electronic medical records (EMRs). EMRs streamline the patient care workflow by providing physicians safer and quicker access to important medical information and can benefit all health systems, from large hospitals to single practitioners. Specialty software companies, such as Massachusetts-based athenahealth, focus solely on healthcare-related business services such as EMRs. These companies were quick to recognize that their tools can provide safe and cost-effective healthcare solutions, and athenahealth and some of its competitors now lead the industry in product innovation.

Recently, online enterprise software directory Capterra published an insightful view into the most popular EMR software providers (see graphic, right). The infographic’s index is compelling because it ranks companies not only by revenue but also by digital data, aggregating results for each of the vendors based on Alexa rankings, Compete traffic and Google searches. The social media component of Capterra’s infographic articulates several important takeaways about the healthcare industry; social media has huge potential in healthcare IT and, as such, the onus is on the individual software vendor to use social platforms to set themselves apart from competitors. Examination of various social platforms, such as Facebook likes, Klout score and LinkedIn company followers, also contributed to the popularity rankings and present opportunities to think critically about how these vendors should leverage social media for their content strategy.

Given that the healthcare industry is limited by government mandates that restrict creativity in product development, the key to a company effectively broadcasting its unique corporate message revolves around intelligence in storytelling, and targeted content is the golden ticket to success. As we’ve learned through our work with client Network Health, it’s important to live in the ecosystem that caters to the needs of customers. As Network Health’s partner, we create compelling storylines that reach the health insurance provider’s end users – low- and moderate-income residents in Massachusetts.

We believe that a similar approach has and will continue to achieve success for health IT companies vying for the top spot in the industry. When comparing vendors that made the leaders’ list in social media, such as GE Healthcare and Practice Fusion, it is important to recognize that these companies follow different content strategies  based on their target audience. While GE Healthcare caters predominantly to hospitals and large practices, the company’s Twitter and blog content has a global perspective. Conversely, Practice Fusion caters to medium-size practices and individual practitioners and does an excellent job at engaging with its localized audiences.

The opportunities for health IT companies to leverage social media for business development are endless, yet there is always room for improvement. One immediate fix could involve inserting the service providers into conversations around this week’s Supreme Court hearings. With so many uncertainties within healthcare reform, consumer are undoubtedly wondering what the outcome will be for them.  Moments like these are critical communication-inflection points, and social media tools are the ideal platforms for information exchange between the athenahealths and allscripts and their current and future customers. For what it’s worth, just as social media continues to be an avenue for quick and secure communication, we expect that IT innovations will continue and will weather the storm of reform. What do you think?

Sarah Hurley is a consultant at Greenough. Follow her on Twitter @Sarah_Hu

With Innovation, There’s Always a Catch

Even in the absence of its legendary leader, Steve Jobs, Apple has yet again taken the market by storm with the introduction of its iPad 3, released earlier this month. With improved graphics, camera and video capabilities, greater text readability and a dictation function, many will argue that the iPad3 is the best tablet yet.  A recentComputerworld article written by Ryan Faas argues that improved graphics, video and gaming capabilities make the iPad3 a winner. Now, companies in the mobile ecosystem, from mobile gaming companies such as Zynga and Glu to mobile marketing/advertising companies such as Jumptap, can display stunning, interactive graphics, and users will have a field day with the device.

iPad 3

iPad 3

The Computerworld article goes on to suggest that while the iPad3’s consumer appeal is unquestionable, it is also very well suited for businesses. The healthcare industry, for example, can take advantage of the device’s new graphic capabilities as an alternative to medical imaging workstations. Media, design and other creative firms can also take advantage of the retina display and improved graphic performance. And the list goes on. Furthermore, because of its consumer appeal and because every business user is also a consumer, the new iPad will ride the building “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) wave. In other words, the device will inevitably become a widely-used business tool.

While the iPad3 offers new, innovative, functionality and potential business benefits, it also poses challenges to IT departments that must manage how this new device connects to corporate networks. IT administrators who have already been contemplating mobile device management (MDM) strategies to secure their corporate networks will now have an even greater challenge as different devices, equipped with new functionality and capabilities, come to the market.

It is essential that future MDM strategies be scalable, flexible and able to evolve with the mobile market. After all, by the time you’ve ordered your new iPad3 on Amazon.com, another better, faster, smarter tablet is likely already in development (or in the marketplace). Don’t believe it? Rivals to the iPad3 have already shown up. The Asus Transformer Prime, which offers a detachable keyboard, has recently drawn praise from CNET, proof that the mobile market is continuously evolving.

The iPad3 and other tablets can not only delight consumers, they can also positively transform industries, and we are already beginning to see this happen. With innovation, however, there is always a catch. The opportunity for the iPad and other tablets to revolutionize business is clear, but this window of opportunity may close slightly if companies do not invest strategically in MDM now. How companies strategically and intelligently use and manage evolving mobile technology will help dictate which businesses move forward fastest and which will fall behind.

Jessica Boardman a senior consultant at Greenough. She can be reached via email at jboardman@greenough.biz or follow her on twitter @J_Boardman.

Give ‘Em What They Want

So, you’d like a few tips, yes?

IDG recently issued a series of research briefs on aligning content and topics to social media platforms and buyer interests.  While the research focused on IT vendors and buyers, I’d guess that the findings apply to other markets as well.  One key lesson is that buyers report a significant preference for best practices on blogs.  So, without further ado, here are a few best practices for you, based on the IDG research.  (For the full reports, please visit the IDG Knowledge Hub)

The key lesson is this: align the format and subject matter of the content you offer to the social media platform.  According to IDG, "The number of available marketing content assets offered by vendors has increased by 60 percent over the past five years. Now, with the advent of social networks the rush is on to tie conversations into all that content. But the randomness of these efforts leads buyers to report that only 39 percent of offered links from social conversations to traditional content are relevant, resulting in buyer frustration and lost sales momentum."

Below are the top-ranked content topics and linked content types for a number of popular social media platforms.

1.    On blogs:

a.    Share: Best practices, news and case studies
b.    Link to: Case studies, ads and tutorials

2.    On forums

a.    Share: Evaluations, news, case studies
b.    Link to: Tutorials, free event registration, evaluation version

3.    On Twitter and Microblogs

a.    Share: News, perspective on industry issues, customer support
b.    Link to: Ads, technical knowledge, free event registration

4.    On Social Networks

a.    Share: News, insight on organization/political challenges, customer support and best practices
b.    Link to: Free event registration, ads, ROI calculators and planning worksheets

Overall, when linking to your company’s content from external sites, maintain an even balance between educational and promotional content.  Buyers responded that they prefer educational content about 43% of the time and promotional content 42% of the time. Don’t overdo it with marketing, but make sure people know about the great company behind the tips you’re providing. 

IDG’s research is valuable in initiating discussion about the importance of tailoring content and links to conversation platforms.  However, the results should not be taken as definitive, due to an extremely small sample size (about 100 respondents).  As IDG notes, "These aggregate findings only represent a starting point for discussion.  There is significant variance by investment type, buying role [and] focus."

In the end, despite the ease social media brings to publishing, it’s still important to know your audience and your surroundings when telling your company’s story. 

Contributed by Catharine Morgan.  Follow her @c_morgan