You’re never too big to fail. In 1998, Nokia was the world’s biggest mobile manufacturer. Today it’s a case study in business school on what not to do in the face of competition. So too was BlackBerry, once a behemoth in the smartphone industry that it literally invented. Then the company dismissed Apple’s iPhone as “a toy”.

So consumer electronics giant Philips’ decision to radically change its focus from electronic products to personal healthcare might perhaps be viewed as a masterstroke in the next decade. Srikanth Nott (below), the new general manager for the personal health division in Philips ASEAN Pacific and the man responsible for piloting the evolution, tells us more about this bold move.

What are the strategic reasons behind Phillips’ move from consumer electronics to personal healthcare?
Across the globe, we see mega-trends such as sedentary lifestyles, chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension, as well as increasing lifespans together with rising healthcare costs. Alongside this, we see an increasing prevalence of individuals willing and able to take charge of their own health, with the help of technology.

As a company with a 125-year history in consumer-centric innovation, we saw the opportunity to leverage our expertise to provide consumers with the right technological tools and solutions that can help all of us manage our health proactively.

What is your definition of personal healthcare?
If you imagined every individual’s healthcare journey as a continuum, it starts with healthy living and disease prevention – living a healthy lifestyle that keeps us away from a visit to a professional healthcare facility for as long as feasible. Personal health, for me, starts with a clean home free from pollutants and a healthy diet of home-prepared food. As stress levels in our daily lives continue to rise, mental health is as important as physical health. Personal health is all about empowering individuals to take care of themselves to live a healthy life.

Empowering the individual is the theme for the coming decade. We have seen an explosion in self-help, be it in online shopping, self-service banking or vending machines, the list goes on. If we can take care of many more things ourselves than before, then why not also take care of our own health? Especially when a large proportion of illnesses and diseases are either environment related or chronic, shifting the centre of gravity for taking care of your health will move to us individuals.

Digitised personal healthcare also usually needs to be paired with the opinions of healthcare professionals for the products to have a significant impact, as numbers don’t really mean anything if not accompanied with the context.
We understand the critical role of professional endorsements. We work closely with dentists for our oral healthcare consumer products, and we work with several cardiovascular health organisations in different countries to validate our product usage and to provide consumers an independent context to the benefits. In addition, we also work with educational institutions like Temasek Polytechnic and its nutrition department to identify new food recipes using our products that can benefit consumers in general. So, we believe in partnerships, and we will continue to build on them.

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