Service innovations are notoriously difficult. It takes decades for innovations to penetrate market. More importantly, managers and service professionals are incredibly slow to react to consumer needs. While many frameworks exist to help us think through innovation ideas, we often ignore lessons learnt from other industries.
The service related challenges in Higher Education and Healthcare are particularly vexing and can benefit from some lateral thinking borrowed from related professional services industries. Higher education and healthcare industries are a significant part of the service economy. According to the Department of Education, total revenues at U.S. public and private universities in 2009-10 exceeded $400 billion (National Center for Education Statistics). According to the Department of Commerce, US hospital revenues exceeded $800 billion in 2010, and outpatient services accounted for another $750 billion (SelectUSA). Clearly, the potential for improving societal welfare by addressing the service delivery challenges in these two industries is enormous!
Many academics, practitioners and entrepreneurs are busy addressing these challenges. However, in my opinion, the focus has been mostly on changing industry structure and funding models. Efforts to improve service delivery in both education and healthcare have been sporadic and limited. Clearly, we need to do more.
Let us look at higher education first. Continue reading