Giga (gĭg ‘ə) n.
- Metric prefix denoting multiplication by 109 or 1,000,000,000.
- In measuring the capacity of computer disks and RAM, equivalent to X 230 or 1,073,741,824.
- In California surf slang for something that is totally gnarlatious.
OK . . . enough already . . . regarding Google, Micro$oft, Privacy, and for sure Deborah Peel. It is a tiresome, circular circus of announcements, concerns from pundits, and hang wringing by the neighsaying yes-crowd (or the “no” crowd as the case may be). The bottom line is that the big boys have been circling this arena for a long time, and after smelling blood all those years, they have decided to take their first bites. While the remoras fight over the irrelevant table scraps, these first bits dig into the whale of a health care problem that we are facing. I for one, think it is pretty cool.
Having watched the inevitable Microsoft vs. Google war taking shape for several years, I find it interesting that a major skirmish line is being drawn in the health care sector. With the recent announcement of Amalga, which as the name implies, is a culmination of several recent acquisitions, Microsoft is fulfilling their promise made last year during the keynote that they are “going to fully apply” all their resources into solving the health care IT problem. Building on that pledge, Microsoft has upped the ante with their still recent HealthVault announcement, and subsequent and surprising announcement that they are going to “open source” their framework, release API’s specifications, and even fund startup projects as part of their Be Well fund.
All of this is prelude, of course, to the real battle which will be in search. We have already seen the “troop level increase” with Microsoft’s hostile take over attempt of Yahoo. Get ready for the oncoming battle of the bulge . . . but we can let that simmer because it is “game on” in the health care battle right now. Google vs. Microsoft in PHR right now in prime time. Let’s get ready to ruuuuuuuuuuummmble!
My prediction: Google by a long shot. A really long, interconnected, collaborative, collective intelligence, networked kind of aggregated intelligence kind of a shot.
Look, Microsoft is an application company. As such, they have dominated the computing industry hand over foot for two decades (which could be considered centuries in other industries). Microsoft placed an incredibly profitable bet back in the early 80’s when they understood that by controlling the commodity operating system, they could control all the proprietary applications that would eventually be built. Controlling the applications meant that they could control the dollar flow, the upgrade cycle, and the proverbial versioning game. Ruthlessly, profitably, and in near monopolistic fashion.
However, just as they were late to the internet, they are late to another form of sea change within computing: the NETWORK. I have written about networks frequently recently, having only really understood their potential within the last six months. Sun was right – the network has become the computer (O’Reilly rocks – this was written in 2000!). No longer do I need applications, in fact, I don’t even care about the applications because I they all reside on the network somewhere. I don’t have any version issues, storage issues, configuration issues – I plug and play; anytime, anywhere. This is incredibly powerful paradigm.
This whole PHR thing sets up an interesting contrast for the larger issue of who would I trust with my health data. Let me start with a few general comparisons in terms of my perceptions in working with these two companies (as it relates to how I think each would manage my personal health information):
|Ease of Use||Check||
|Speed to Market||Check||
|Next Order Thinking||Check||
|Make My Life Simpler||
My personal analysis of the metrics that matter to me in assessing which platform I would be willing to use for my personal health information.
So after all the hype about the Google PHR, I was actually able to see it and test drive it out yesteday at HIMSS. Congratulation to Roni Zeigler, Missy Krasner, and even Marissa Mayer (who still has not responded to me) for getting this out under extreme market “interest”. The Google PHR has the expected simple but intuitive interface, does exactly what you would expect in terms of functionality with the screen shots you have seen, and with all the seamless integration you would expect: G-mail, Google Calendar, Google Maps, Google Search, Google Alerts, Google Reader, etc. There is medication alerts, built in medical conditions, demographic information, and care coordinator contacts lists. It is currently missing ability to upload images/documents, import laboratory feeds, and several other essential features/functionality. However, as with everything else Google has ever done, you know it is coming in the constant iterations that will inevitably flow.
What an easy, and natural extension, to incorporate my personal health information to an the same entity that already manages the rest of my life. While this has some potential scary undertones, it is far scarier to me to think of the folks in Redmon managing my data and my life in this way. Microsofts bad behavior over the years, the unnecessary bullying, open taunting, stifling of innovation, orientation toward control, and focus on the proprietary, is going to return to haunt them in a very big, and very unfortunate way.
Think about the above for just a minute . . . nearly my entire productive professional life is being managed by Google. On a remote network. For free. Whoa.
So while the hype dust still needs to settle, I remain Giga over Google’s health care prospects.