View a PDF of VM's 2019 Summit.

NEW YORK—New messages, new programs, new delivery models: seemingly limitless choices abound for today’s consumers. We want what we want, when we want it—and increasingly, we can get it. This new frontier has transformed the nature of products and services transactions as well as the relationship between sellers and buyers, while creating an onslaught of data (33 zettabytes in 2018!) that must be managed, analyzed and protected.

At the 13th annual VM Summit, Marc Ferrara, CEO, Information Services, Jobson Medical Information, presented a powerful case for data as “the currency of our new, fourth industrial revolution,” noting that the data economy alone is estimated to rise to more than $400 billion over the next five years—something we all contribute to every time we fill out an electronic form or engage in some other online activity or purchase. The central Summit goal was to help ECPs navigate this shifting landscape, providing insights and strategies around the new “data continuum” to make data more powerful and productive, and less of a conundrum.

Marc Ferrara, Jobson Medical Information.
 Vision Monday’s Marge Axelrad.
Ferrara emphasized “data for money” as a key trend to watch: the transfer of money or other incentive to the consumer who in exchange provides some form of valuable data, for example: driving a connected car in which the vehicle tracks operational data as well as searches and transactions performed on in-vehicle apps, where drivers receive offers e.g. discounts on auto insurance. He also mentioned the potential of “brick and click” (citing Amazon’s growing success with same) to provide a wealth of new opportunities in the optical industry, which has only begun to embrace this mixed delivery model.

Marge Axelrad, senior vice president and editorial director of Vision Monday, spoke about how all of this data is activating today’s health care consumer. Empowered by endless sources of information, many are taking a more active role in self-care and seeking greater engagement with doctors and other providers. She said organizations need to understand, anticipate and respond to the new dynamic of “patient as consumer,” centered on greater accessibility including on-demand communications with health professionals, responsive design and other conveniences such as the availability of health services outside the doctor’s office. Axelrad acknowledged the optical industry’s longtime embrace of the dichotomous elements of eyewear—fashion and utilitarian, value and luxury, health care and retail—and how ECPs can take a cue from the business case studies presented at the Summit to successfully respond to the evolving needs and wants of the patient/consumer.

— Sara Bonizio, Contributing Editor