Serving the Last Mile

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Serving the Last Mile

Technology is the great enabler – making it easy for us all to connect and scale and communicate. But in so many ways, technology takes us 80% of the way there, leaving us with a job partially done. Increasingly, as we emerge into this age of personalization, the customized solutions will be localized to our individual needs, right to our doorstep, to be experienced head-on, exactly the way we want and need it to be. Below are examples of areas of opportunity and need, and my thoughts on trends on what will lie ahead, this year and beyond.

1. To-the-Door Delivery Service

Shipping is a pain, whether you’re trying to send something out or receive something at home. Technology can track a package (if you pay for it to do so), but it doesn’t help you get to the post office or delivery store, stand in the line, make sure that things get done. And it doesn’t sit at home to collect your package and make sure that it gets into the proper hands.

  • I’m fascinated by what Shyp.com may be able to do – taking the hassle out of shipping something – from packaging to delivery. It’s not available in all areas yet, but I can’t wait to try it out!
  • On the other side watch for MyDoorman.net – it will serve as a doorman to stage your delivery for a convenient evening time when you’re home, or work with your employer (SF only for now) to hold your personal packages securely for pickup at work at your convenience.

2. Concierge Services, delivered while you work, rest, or network

We are all so busy doing the important day-to-day tasks, we need someone at home to take care of the little stuff. Not just a Siri on your phone who may answer your questions or add to your task list, but someone who might actually pick up a few items at the store, get the oil changed on your car, and make sure that the kids get from school to activities and back. Technology can help calendar and coordinate and find the best resources, but it takes physical bodies to get things done, and competent, reliable ones to get them done well and efficiently, and business acumen to scale concierge services that would be attractive for busy professionals. Let me know if you find one – they are growing in popularity, but which one(s) are reliable?

3. Software subscription services with support that welcomes your call

I started paying for Microsoft Office this year (gasp), after buying their software for years before. This is definitely the model of the future, to help keep up with updates, to optimize versioning, security, scalability, etc.

  • I love GoDaddy’s web site development and support services, and in fact, gave up my desktop accounting software to go with their Online Bookkeeping solution.
  • We gave up our home phone years ago, and have leaned on our cell phones more. However, the trend is leaning toward VOIP. I enjoyed Ooma for years, but now use the VOIP that comes with Comcast.

4. Installation, customization and ongoing support

We are looking at getting solar panels installed, and it’s so complicated with the sun exposure, tree-trimming recommendations, installation costs, permitting requirements, rebate offerings, etc. We are delighted to find a vendor who can do it all for us. I believe that enterprises will be experiencing similar problems with enterprise software installations and upgrades, and seeking vendors who can do that all-in-one installation for them.

5. Proactive Health Management

The database of information about health conditions and the desire for proactive health management is driving the rapidly expansion of the industry.

  • HealthTap is a community of patients connecting with doctors with specific questions about all health-related matters.
  • MEDgle’s huge database of symptoms, diagnoses, labs, and more helps patients self-diagnose their symptoms, and that of their loved ones, so that they can self-triage and access next-steps for connecting directly with their physicians.
  • 23andme’s health-related genetic testing process and ancestry report through saliva samples.

6. Aggregated entertainment, pushed to order

We’ve been loyal NetFlix customers since the days when you had to mail them back DVDs! But this year, they are breaking the mode with the original content and the long-loved series others followed, but you never saw. My prediction is that there will be a push to take people out of their homes, and connecting with others through entertainment options.

7. One size fits most mentality, with customization to make it just so

My daughter is a big fan of Lululemon, and although I do buy the yoga pants and tops for her and appreciate their quality, I’m way too price-sensitive to buy anything for myself. However, hats-off to them for their service offerings – free tailoring, personalized consultation, phenomenal return policy, etc. I believe that the trend toward quality materials and service will continue, and that customers will continue to pay a premium for the brand, the durability and the service.  Technology-wise, I’m looking for the high tech materials that would provide quality, flexibility and durability so that clothing fits a wide range of sizes and looks good for a long time.

8. Supply chain principles coupled with on-demand customization

Imagine if you could leverage the best of supply chain principles (proactive management of large-order parts/items, quick assembly and delivery options etc) with the ability to deliver customized packages of products cost-efficiently to someone. This is the wave of the future.

  • Check out what Rexanto is doing for 7-day prescription package deliveries.

9. Communications and services to enrich existing connections

We are so inundated with information – our networks are all huge and it’s hard to keep that personal relationship going for huge networks.

  • Newsle tells you whom from your LinkedIn network is making the news and why.
  • LinkedIn offers extensive services for the free members, so that they can continue to grow that awesome network, as well as value-added resources for their premium members, so they can leverage their networks based on their objectives.
  • LinkSV provides you with a strategic view of who’s getting the funding, leaders, and articles, helping you track Silicon Valley leaders, and, for premium users, advising on how you may connect with them through your LinkedIn network.

10. Proactive management of energy usage

Sure we all want to proactive manage how much energy we generate and use, but it has been difficult to get all that data onto a single dashboard, with a recommendation on actions you can take to optimize your usage.

  • Watch for TangerinePlus, in beta now, and share how you are generating energy at home and at work, and what we can do to optimize your energy usage.

What are your predictions on what will happen in 2014 and beyond? E-mail us at info@fountainblue.biz with your thoughts.

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