Today’s world of disruptive change is defined by two terms: innovation and speed. The big idea is important, but equally so is the path that innovation takes to realization—prototype or marketplace. And in today’s world, translating the big idea into a functional reality is as essential or even the rate-limiting step for success.
We’re actually moved beyond the old school notion of “change over time” or what we commonly expressed a velocity. Today, we’re living in the second derivative of speed. And that’s acceleration! This accelerated path offers the opportunity to leverage or leapfrog an existing marketplace reality or brand to disrupt the disruptor! And beyond a simple disruption, the “new leader” can leverage the valuable intellectual equity and market preparation that has been put in place by prior market leaders and innovators.
The evolution of the at-home COVID-19 tests is an example of how new technology can quickly evolve and become dominate players in the market. Fostered by a tremendous clinical and social need, we can have a new COVID-19 test available that renders the older (or should I say less new) technology obsolete. This may leave products forever in inventory and manufacturers in a significant business bind. But that’s exponential change. And it’s change that necessitates that you look ahead, but also behind you!
Case in point: Profusa.
Profusa is developing tissue-integrating biosensors for continuous monitoring of various body chemistries from tissue oxygen to glucose. Their technology is fascinating and potentially very disruptive. They have created a tiny sensor that is placed just below the surface of the skin that detect and continuously transmits actionable, medical-grade data for clinical and even personal use. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The interesting part of this story is the context in which Profusa lives and not only its core innovation.
First, let’s take a step back and look at one of the biggest Innovations in digital health over the past few years. That’s continuous glucose monitoring (CGM). For many, we’ve moved away from the old school day of the finger stick methodology to continuous monitoring of blood glucose using an external measurement device syncs with our smartphone.
The clinical utility is amazing and combined with convenience, makes it an undeniably powerful tool in the management of diabetes. We have also seen the emergence of new companies like DreaMed and Insulet that are building upon CGM innovation to leverage these new and robust blood glucose data to offer insights into optimizing insulin administration. That’s the speed on innovation. Or should I say, the acceleration…
But just was we begin to get comfortable with CGM, the wind of innovation catches our attention. And there lies the central issue for today’s innovator. The development process itself—from prototype to regulatory approval—is a critical component of success. Profusa typifies this dynamic. Their innovation offers the potential of rendering other contemporary and viable innovations obsolete, even in the context of a market that isn’t completely established hardly well penetrated.
Today, more than ever, both technology and demand are driving change. The consumer desire of “I want it when I want it” and the advances in discovery and manufacturing make tomorrow a lot closer than it has ever been. That’s good news for us. But it’s a precarious dynamic for the innovator who doesn’t occasionally take a good look back and fails to recognize that it’s not only speed, but acceleration that gets you to the finish line.