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CMB Conference Recap: IIR FEI 2015

Posted by Blair Bailey and Hannah Russell

Thu, May 28, 2015

CMB Conference Recap, Front End of InnovationLast week’s Front End of Innovation (FEI) Conference brought together today’s brightest innovators to showcase designs, discuss developments, and. . .build marshmallow towers? (More on that later.) This three-day event provided countless opportunities to discuss innovation in today’s marketplace. Here are our top 5 takeaways: 

1. Be prepared to pivot. Peter Koen, Director of the Consortium for Corporate Entrepreneurship, kicked off opening night by having teams build a freestanding structure from marshmallows and wooden sticks. Although my team didn’t win, we did gain some insight into how using a learning strategy can enable quicker reactions to any issues during a process. Setting up processes for reacting efficiently and effectively after failure is becoming increasingly important for companies looking to keep up with the fast-moving marketplace.

2. Be a hero. Dustin Garis, Founder of LifeProfit, gave some great examples of brands (such as Coca-Cola and Expedia) that are becoming “heroes” for consumers by breaking up the mundane routines of our everyday life. Given that 80% of millennials prefer experiences over “stuff,” brands that can create an experience will have a much better chance of having top-of-mind awareness with younger consumers.

3. Fail fast. Deborah Arcoleo, Director for the Innovation Center of Excellence with The Hershey Company, reviewed some key points to remember when incorporating innovation into your corporate strategy. Her motto? Fail fast, fail cheaply, and make sure you capture the learnings. Innovation is often an iterative process. By catching failures early, companies can prevent costly failures further down the pipeline.

4. The innovation paradigm is shifting. Eric von Hippel, a professor of innovation at the MIT Sloan School of Management, drew our attention to the shifting paradigm of producer innovation and user innovation. Steve Jobs famously said, “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” While producers and manufacturers were considered primary innovators in the past, users are taking an ever-growing role in the innovation landscape. Users are developing products on their own and taking advantage of open source programs to spread and build upon ideas. Even producers themselves are getting in on the fun by providing users with the tools to innovate.

5. Follow your passion. Miki Agrawal, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Wild, THINX, and SUPER SPROUTZ as well as author of Do Cool Sh*t, had a wake-up call when she slept through her alarm on September 11, 2001 and didn’t make it to work on time. From that point on, she dedicated her time to following her passions, including opening a health-conscious pizza restaurant and creating a children’s television program dedicated to healthy habits. In each of her ventures, Agrawal identified her strengths and weaknesses, and she built teams that complimented one another to achieve her goals, rather than taking on the venture alone.

While the face and pace of innovation may be changing, one thing remains clear—incremental change leads to incremental growth. It’s time to start pushing the envelope.

Blair Bailey and Hannah Russell are Associate Researchers at CMB and recent graduates from Boston University. Personally, they prefer egg drop competitions to building marshmallow structures.

Topics: conference recap, growth and innovation

It's Time to Be Bold: 5 Takeaways from the IIR FUSE Conference

Posted by Julie Kurd

Thu, Apr 23, 2015

FUSE, branding, brand strategyLast week’s FUSE conference gathered top branding and design leaders to talk about disruption, brand strategy, and the changing marketplace. Until recently, branding experts urged brands to focus on mindfulness: gather the data, listen, and react to the results. But a new economy demands a bold and proactive approach—listening is great but it’s not nearly enough. Here are my top 5 takeaways:

1. You can call it a comeback—if you’re willing to be radical. Legacy brand Kodak is rising from the ashes of bankruptcy, and its near death reminds us of the need for disruption. Kodak CMO, Steve Overman, described the company’s journey as that of a beloved brand in search of a product suite that will serve as the brand’s emotional glue. Is this brand going to climb out of the cracks? Who knows, but if it’s got a shot, it will be through a radical reimagining of Kodak’s products and not just a tweak of its messaging.

2. Don’t discount the incredible. Futurist @bkreit (Bradley Kreit) talked about the emerging tech that’s making its way into your reality. These include: mood-spotting—algorithms that can escalate a call based on your emotions, sensors to tell you you’re running low on Tide, apps like Dorothy which allows you to click your heels 3 times and order an Uber, 3D printed domiciles, and other things like sensors for major disease self-evaluation. We’ve got the data, we’ve got the technology, and it’ll be here sooner than you think. . .all of it personalized, inexpensive, and possible. 

3. Be real, be emotional. @MorganSpurlock (Morgan Spurlock), Oscar Nominated filmmaker (Super Size Me, 2004), shared his latest project—a channel called Smartish. The concept is brand entertainment curated by “smartish” talent. How can branded content be authentic? Spurlock explains that it’s critical to identify and develop your brand’s core essence and the emotional payoff it will provide for your target market.

4. Whether you’re selling candy or condoms—you’ve got to go there. Serendipitously, I sat between one of Wrigley’s design/brand people and one of Trojan’s folks (you know. . .the condom people). I asked them both what they were really selling. The brand manager from Trojan was quick to reply with “trusted pleasure” while Wrigley’s person said, “we offer simple pleasure.” This chance encounter reminded me how important it is to think waaay outside the box.

5. This ain’t your grandma’s motivation. According to James Fox, CEO of Red Peak Branding, Millennials, who grew up with internet access, report that their friends would describe them using outward facing adjectives such as “good looking, bold, funny, creative, stylish and successful.” The older crowd, who didn’t grow up with internet access, use descriptors like “a team player, independent, and a good friend,” which are inward and loyalty focused. Brands are facing off to groups of people with enormously different basic motivations, and their messaging needs to reflect that.

The world is transforming, and to be relevant and prominent, brands need to trade-off two key roles: consistently making well-thought-out brand decisions for the core (sharpening the brand) and innovating and growing. So forget what your mother told you, it’s definitely not enough to be kind and a good listener—you need to be bold.

Julie blogs for GreenBook, ResearchAccess, and CMB. She’s an inspired participant, amplifier, socializer, and spotter in the twitter #mrx community, so talk research with her @julie1research.

Topics: conference recap, brand health and positioning, growth and innovation

3D Diversity: High-Octane Fuel for Your Innovation Engine

Posted by Andy Cole

Fri, Mar 20, 2015

3D diversity, south street strategy, CMBDiversity in the workplace has proven massive benefits for organizations that rely on innovative thinking. Contrary to what most people believe, however, diversity in business is not just about surrounding yourself with people who look different. It’s also about equipping your team with a wide array of approaches to a common challenge.You can imagine each of us having a diversity score – based on 3 dimensions – that fluctuates depending on the collective characteristics of the team. However, the score isn’t static: each of us can increase our individual and team diversity score at will. Let’s take a look at the three common dimensions of diversity to understand how we can do this:

  1. Inherent Diversity

Inherent diversity includes race, ethnic background, gender…hardwired traits that we are born with/into and cannot be controlled. For better or worse, these traits can influence the way we perceive the world around us, and vice versa.

A McKinsey study shows the difference inherent diversity can make, finding that executive boards in the US with inherently diverse members enjoy a 95% higher return on equity than those without. Impressive! On the flipside, what is an example of the drawback to sameness? Ask Bertelsmann, whose all-male team turned down Bethenny Frankel’s pitch to launch a low-cal alcoholic beverage for women. They simply could not relate to the target market, and the unseized opportunity gave rise to Skinnygirl, the fastest growing spirit brand in history.

  1. Acquired Diversity

This dimension involves the ingrained experiences we collect throughout our lives that train us how to think and behave, such as educational background, professional expertise, and even experience abroad.

An Art History class might allow you to understand the context surrounding important works and to fully appreciate the artist’s vision. Raising children helps you value an uninterrupted night’s sleep and wholeheartedly empathize with new parents in a way that others simply cannot. Though we cannot dictate all life events, we do have a great deal of control over the diversity we acquire over time.

According to the Harvard Business Review, companies with leaders who exhibit 2-D diversity (that is, each leader possesses at least 3 inherent traits and 3 acquired traits) are 45% more likely to report growth.

While this is all wonderful, raising the level of inherent and acquired diversity at your organization (especially at the leadership level) is not something that is easily achieved. We believe a third dimension is needed; a dimension to help you raise your overall diversity score immediately with the human capital you already have: that third dimension is Inspired Diversity.

  1. Inspired Diversity

Through the development of our subject knowledge over time, mental models begin to take form and solidify in our minds. That’s natural, but these biases can also blind us to new opportunities and challenges. In order to increase our openness and mental agility, we must constantly identify opportunities to branch out from our immediate environment and learn how others might solve interesting challenges, focusing on how we might apply their insight to fit our purposes.

For example, touring a manufacturing facility can give fresh insight to the way we think about our internal processes and workflow. Interviewing an exceptional street performer could provide wisdom on courage and leadership. Perusing an exhibit at an art museum can help you reimagine your brand’s image through the artist’s lens.

When I run rapid innovation programs with clients, there is a clear trend among the super creative folks who consistently ideate at a higher level: They are renaissance people. They have many interests, are curious about many subjects, and partake in many activities that all contribute to having a wide array of perspectives. They have the unique ability to create using their past experience (acquired diversity) and also in-the-moment when they bring a specific business challenge to an outside activity (inspired diversity). They challenge themselves with new experiences and perspectives as often as possible.

When business requires innovation, pulling novel ideas out of thin air is simply not a realistic expectation; it’s about attacking a challenge from angles that have never been considered. And this level of thinking requires diverse individuals, with diverse minds, stimulated by diverse activities.

South Street Strategy Group
Andy Cole is a consultant for South Street Strategy Group where we use a multi-method approach to identify and test growth and innovation strategies for increased 
commercialization success. 

Topics: South Street Strategy Group, strategy consulting, growth and innovation

"Learn" to Innovate: Why Companies that Celebrate Failure Are Only Half-Right

Posted by Andy Cole

Mon, Feb 23, 2015

Scientist Looking at VialIn an effort to counter the fear-based culture that inhibits innovation at many companies, some leaders (GoogleAmazonRoche) have advocated actually celebrating failure. Interesting! Could this new mindset really be the key to building an internal culture of fearless innovators?Clearly, we want to create a safe environment for employees to admit faults, share lessons learned, and have the courage to attempt things that have never been done, all without the fear of reputational – or even career – consequences. But do we really want employees to idolize those who don’t accomplish what they set out to do? Although provocative, a broad policy like “celebrate failure” can be misleading and create unintended problems.

What companies should be celebrating is the learning derived from failure, not failure itself. To illustrate the difference, putting the focus on failure raises post-mortem questions like “Now that we’ve failed, what worked well?”, “what did we learn from this?”, “how might we do better?” This retroactive approach is better than nothing, but it’s in no way sufficient.

When the goal shifts to maximize learning, it invites key questions at the beginning of the process, like “what might we learn from this activity?”, “what key assumptions could we test?”, and “how might we modify the idea so that we learn even more?” As you can see, this proactive approach can guide and influence activities from early stages in a direction that prevents future failure (or at least the sheer quantity and size of failures before realizing success).

Used in combination with a project debrief, this tactic can be used as part of a powerful learning strategy, ensuring that you get the very most of your innovation activities, independent of failure or success. And that’s certainly worth celebrating.

How do these issues show up in your organization? Does your company embrace failure or learning? Do you conduct structured “after action” analyses of major initiatives to facilitate learning?  We’d be pleased if you would share your ideas, stories, rants, insights, and responses in the comments below.

south street transpAndy Cole is a consultant for South Street Strategy Group where we use a multi-method approach to identify and test growth and innovation strategies for increased commercialization success. 

Topics: South Street Strategy Group, strategy consulting, growth and innovation

In-N-Out Serves up a Side of Innovation

Posted by Hilary O'Haire

Wed, Aug 20, 2014

innovation, innovative, In-N-Out BurgerI've just returned from a week-long vacation to California, and I'm still feeling the joy (and guilt) from satisfying my ultimate indulgence: In-N-Out Burger. Since I’m an East Coaster without frequent access to their locations, my trip would not have been complete without going at least once. I have another confession: I ate there three times in ten days. I may have overdone it, but my love of the brand is predictable. In-N-Out Burger is the one chain Millennials will return to time and time again—we just can’t seem to get enough of it. This is not new nor surprising news. As a Millennial myself, I am enamored by the restaurant, which offers a simple four item menu, fast service, and garden-fresh ingredients.A report by Technomic states, “In-N-Out Burger is the chain most likely to be revisited. Millennials place greater emphasis on the concept's brand image, agreeing more strongly than other generations that In-N-Out Burger supports local community activities, offers new and exciting products and is an innovative brand.” To me, the most interesting finding is that In-N-Out’s brand is seen as innovative. This begs the question: how can they be innovative if they only offer four items? Devout fans may point to the success of their “not-so-secret menu,” which is listed only on their website and boasts creative burger combinations, as a reason. However, I’d like to think In-N-Out serves as a gentle reminder: innovation doesn't always mean complexity. Although customers may continue to eat up crazier menu choices, the actual menu at each location remains clear and unchanging: burgers, french fries, shakes, and beverages.

Although it's impossible to avoid complexity at all phases, the root of innovation or product development should remain simple. When beginning to think about innovation—perhaps a new product or new process to improve your business—let this be a helpful reminder to have a focused core set of objectives in mind. Using In-N-Out’s magic number four, take a step back and ask yourself: What are the (up to) four innovation objectives that I need to guarantee success? Your success will be defined by multiple outcomes, from stakeholder support to the ultimate goal of application or use. However, keeping clear and consistent objectives will ground your innovation through execution and management. The end result of these objectives may be unknown, but who knows?—you may find yourself concocting your own “not-so-secret menu” of innovative ideas.

Hilary O’Haire is Senior Associate at CMB. If you find yourself at In-N-Out Burger in the near future, she recommends not-so-secretly ordering your meal ‘Protein Style.’  

Join us at The Market Research Event! Use the code CMB2014 and receive 25% off your registration. 

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Topics: millennials, growth and innovation

6 Questions with Allstate's Bob Pankauskas

Posted by Anne Bailey Berman

Wed, Aug 13, 2014

allstate, innovation, Bob Pankauskas  Allstate Insurance’s Director of Consumer Insights, Bob Pankauskas, sat down with CMB President Anne Bailey Berman to talk innovation, mobile, and what clients need to expect from market researchers.

Anne: Innovation isn’t a word people typically associate with insurance, yet the industry’s changed drastically in the past 5 years. How has that impacted you as a Market Researcher?

Bob: Innovation is a big part of what my team is charged with supporting. We’ve been doing a lot more exploration in terms of coming up with new products and services. This also means we need to broaden our toolkit with more exploratory and discovery work. For example, we’re rediscovering the world of ethnography to try and provide products and services for the future. We’ve done several ethnography projects, and we’re using new tools. We even had one of the ethnographies we did turned into a video that was used by the board of directors to showcase some interesting pain points consumers have with their cars. We’re also doing more and more concept testing and developing and exploring ideas.

Anne: So when you’re talking about innovation, you’re talking about two types of innovation. You’re talking about innovation for products and services for Allstate, but you’re also talking about the innovation of information tools in your bucket. How do you determine if the tools you’re using for innovation are really helping you more than traditional tools?

Bob: The thing we’re always searching for is that insight—that visceral reaction that consumers have. Consumers are behaving in a certain way. Why are they behaving that way? Anything that helps us get to a good insight is really useful, and a lot of the nontraditional ways seem to be more useful than the traditional quantitative approach. You have to work a little harder to get insights out of a quantitative approach, so using qualitative helps a great deal. Our CMO will say, “Great, what’s the consumer insight? What is the pain point?”  We need to focus on the problem we’re solving for the customer. It’s very easy to ask, but often we find we’re solving a problem for Allstate and not really solving the problem for consumers.  We work hard to address that.

Anne: What research challenges are keeping you up at night?

Bob: A really pressing topic of the day is the migration to mobile. It’s only a matter of time before we migrate all of our research platforms to mobile devices. We want our respondents to be able to choose when, how, and where they answer our questions. At this point, we do optimize our surveys for mobile. We pay a lot of attention to question length, simplifying response options, and usability. Our goal is to make our surveys engaging and rigorous.

Of course, trackers are a bigger challenge—it’s painful to live through that period when you say, “. . . and then we changed everything and our numbers are different.” But there are incremental opportunities that mobile provides—being in the moment, getting a real-time view of sponsored events, and just the ability to capture insights when customers are in the midst of an experience. We’re also really excited to utilize consumer-generated images to get more color and context from mobile cameras and not just words and numbers.  The shift is inevitable and the opportunities are there. We just need to be mindful of what we lose and what we gain as we make trade-offs in terms of trending.

Anne: What about target markets?

Bob: We’re trying to go after Millennials like everybody else. Everybody is chasing them, and it’s hard to crack the code. Going after a target means going after them well—understanding their motivators and having a product or service that is tailored to them. I think we have found how they liked to be talked to. They want to be treated with respect. They do want to research things online, but they still want to talk to somebody and touch base with them. It’s more about the “how” and less about the “what.”

Anne: What consumer insights get you most excited? Which tools?

Bob: It isn’t necessarily the tool that gives you the best insights. It’s creating receptivity and listening carefully. One of the most powerful insights we had at Allstate was the need for tangibility. Insurance is an intangible product or service. When you’re getting it, you really don’t know what you’re getting.

The thing is that we’re trying to solve the same problem again and again. So the issue is, how can you—as a smart marketer, researcher, or innovator—change your perspective just a little bit and look at the same thing you’ve been looking at for a long time and say, “Oh! Wow! Look at that! That’s new!” Now maybe it wasn’t new, but you changed your perspective and suddenly saw it. Many of the new techniques allow that change in perspective, and that’s pretty powerful.

Anne: And finally, what would you tell market research vendors about how they can best support the decisions you need to make?

Bob: Partner with your clients. Experiment as often as you can because you’ve got to make changes. You don’t put all your bets on the stuff, but you do have to test and learn. And then the second thing is TLDR—too long, didn’t read. It’s a great feeling to know there’s a 100 page deck of tables to support whatever the project is and that you’ve got your money’s worth. But that’s not at all what we pass on to our internal clients. We live in an ADD world. We’re all time starved, so we need to get to that 1 page summary. Tell me the 2 things I need to know—what’s your recommendation and how this is actionable? The ability to do that is what I’m looking for in a partner.

Check out our new case study to see how we helped a top 25 global bank develop a new value proposition and evaluate perceptions of various service channels and transactions.

DOWNLOAD CASE STUDY HERE

Topics: insurance research, mobile, consumer insights, millennials, Researchers in Residence, growth and innovation

Mixing Up the Perfect Summer Innovation Cocktail

Posted by Simon Peters

Wed, Jun 18, 2014

innovation, innovation cocktail, insights, big dataRecently, I attended the CASRO Technology & Innovation Event in Chicago and came away with a fantastic cocktail recipe.  But this isn’t a recipe for an exotic mixed drink or even a unique twist on a classic G&T.  It’s a recipe for innovation, and it’s made with ingredients we all need to have in our organizational “bar”:Ingredients needed:

1 part Big Data

3 parts insights

2 parts socialization

Step 1:  Start with a healthy dash of Big Data. While Big Data can give us a whole lot of “so what?” and “who cares?” information, it’s also a tremendously powerful tool.  In case you’re thinking it’s a fad, think about the growth of wearables and virtual immersive technologies—both are growing industries based around Big Data. While a deluge of information can create a challenge, there’s also a major opportunity for companies who can parse, integrate, and leverage it. For those of us working with Big Data, the focus has to be on depth rather than on breadth. Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee), author of Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook and guest speaker at the CASRO event, noted that we already have the ability to do this with data from social media.  We should be leveraging the massive amounts of free data already available to us via social media sites—like Facebook and Pinterest—to help us better understand customers at a personal level and engage them even more directly over the same social media sites.

Step 2: Mix in a healthy dose of those meaningful, relevant, and contextual insights. And I’m talking the good stuff—insights that are deep, accurate, and actionable. The kind that pair with recommendations and address real challenges.

Step 3:  Fill the rest of the glass with a heady mix of socialization and distribution. At the CASRO event, I had the opportunity to see and hear about a lot of great technologies for mining and connecting data as well as for distributing results.  Two themes emerged: 1) the importance of socializing your insights and 2) the importance of getting your insights into the hands of the decision makers. One of the easiest and most effective ways to deliver this is via online dashboards. David Mazva, from Infotools, spoke about the journey his company had with a global client and the advancements they had to make in their dashboards to meet this client’s evolving needs.  He specifically noted that people and companies are spending less time analyzing and more time acting on the data, which is something we at CMB have been focusing on for the past decade and is now more important than ever. It’s why we’ve spent a great deal of time developing dashboards that merge the strategic with the tactical.

As head of our Technology Solutions team, I’m the first to shout that dashboards are great—especially our dashboards—but I know they have more of an impact when delivered over the right medium.  Increasingly, this medium is becoming the mobile device. Convenience is no longer just nice to have–it’s a must-have.  We see this playing out now as we design for mobile first since respondents are taking more surveys on their mobile devices today than ever before.  Let’s take this one more step.

Now, you have insights on a dashboard and delivered to you on a mobile device, which enables you to make business decisions faster.  Why not squeeze additional value out of these insights by putting it out on your social networks?  And once it’s on social media, see what connections are out there to drive new insights and opportunities.  There are free tools, like NodeXL, which can map hubs, bridges, groups, and peripheries of a socially connected network.

Step 4: Stir vigorously until innovation is part of your long-term strategy. Jon Puleston, VP of Innovation at Lightspeed GMI, gave a great presentation on companies that have thrived from innovation.  He spoke about GE, Amazon, and others all having a very similar approach to delivering growth through innovation.  These companies all actively search and plan for innovation.  They integrate it into their long-term financial models, which allows them to react quickly to great ideas versus waiting for funding to become available.

The takeaway? If you’re looking to innovate, you’re going to need more than creativity served neat—you’ve got to have the right ingredients mixed just the right way.

Simon leads CMB’s Technology Solutions team. In between developing dynamic and engaging dashboards, he occasionally enjoys a real cocktail.

Join us at The Market Research Event! Use the code CMB2014 and receive 25% off your registration. 

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Topics: technology solutions, big data, conference recap, growth and innovation

Innovation at American Family Insurance

Posted by Jennifer von Briesen

Fri, May 30, 2014

american family insurance

Insurance companies aren’t what most people think of when they think of innovation, but you’d be surprised. American Family Insurance (AMFAM) based in Madison, Wisconsin, is doing some interesting things and a lot of it has to do with their Chairman/CEO (Jack Salzwedel), Chief Business Development Officer (Peter Gunder), and Innovation Director (Dawn Mortimer).It may seem counter-intuitive that firms in regulated and risk-averse industries have great innovation potential, but at South Street, we believe these constraints are huge catalysts for growth and change.

AMFAM’s previous innovation endeavors were focused on products and specific business areas. Now, AMFAM pursues innovation at three different levels across the entire organization: operational, transformational, and disruptive, with the ultimate goal being disruption and new business creation. What’s changed is the aspiration and intention to be a leader and disrupter, not a fast follower.

One focus for disruptive innovation is launching new business models such as Assure Start, insurance for small businesses sold directly online. Another focus is venture capital investing in start-up companies and early stage ventures that have differentiation potential. Related to this, in the past two years since Jack Salzwedel has been CEO, AMFAM has acquired Permanent General (a direct auto carrier) and Homesite insurance (home insurance).

Since setting up AMFAM’s enterprise-wide internal innovation program in late 2011, Dawn Mortimer has engaged 60 VIPs (Vital Innovation Partners) from different levels and functions across the business to participate actively in the innovation process. They spend 5-10% of their time to move ideas through the innovation funnel and review hundreds of submissions from employees and AMFAM’s agents. Using BrightIdea’s innovation platform, general and focused challenges have been launched and innovations have been achieved from new mobile apps to claims process improvements. Rewards and recognition for participants at each stage gate — from cash, to public recognition “Roof Raiser” and “People’s Choice” awards, to cool parking spots in the winter — have helped keep employee engagement high. And using a consulting model, the team of 8 innovation engineers works closely with business areas to fund pilot programs and proof of concepts.

AMFAM’s latest innovation endeavor has been focused, led from the top, well-funded, and aligned with overall strategic goals. This success story is still being written, but so far, it’s great to see a company embrace the innovation agenda and make such great progress despite its constraints.

Jennifer is a Director at South Street Strategy Group. She recently received the 2013 “Member of the Year” award by the Association for Strategic Planning (ASP), the preeminent professional association for those engaged in strategic thinking, planning and action.

Topics: South Street Strategy Group, strategy consulting, insurance research, growth and innovation

#FEI14 Round Up: 10 Innovators and Companies Disturbing the Continuum

Posted by Julie Kurd

Wed, May 21, 2014

julie kurd,front end of innovation,CMB,Internet of things,#FEI14,#IoT,#Wearables,#3DPrintingIn less than 15 years, your car will drive itself, and education and learning as we now know them will be as unrecognizable as the cassette tapes of old. Look out, because nothing is safe. It will happen in healthcare, in manufacturing, in entertainment, and even in your job.  Everything is becoming more focused on true value creation.  If you want to be ready for what’s ahead, here are the people and companies to follow on Twitter.  If you can’t already see the future, they can help you put it into focus.

  • We’re heading to a “trillion sensor world”—a world filled with smart objects constantly interacting over a network to improve user experiences. For example, Peter Diamandis, co-founder of Singularity University, predicts today's 2-year-olds will probably never drive a car thanks to the dawn of self-driving cars. If you think your industry isn’t being disrupted by the Internet of Things…think again.

    Twitter:  @PeterDiamandis. Hashtags: Internet of Everything, Internet of Things (#IoE or #IoT)

  • Have you thought about how manufacturing can now happen in your own home?  Bre Pettis of MakerBot, heads up a company that’s already bringing 3D printing to us. An awesome example? A group of 12-year-olds in a Massachusetts town made their friend a prosthetic arm on one of these 3D printers.  

    Twitter:  @bre from @makerbot Hashtag:  #3DPrinting

  • There are a billion doctors’ office visits each year, and 80% of those visits do not require physical contact.  Dr. Rafael J. Grossman, surgeon and mHealth innovator, is a vanguard of this emerging medical model. Why not use FaceTime, Skype, and other online platforms that solve the need for medical consults in a less expensive and more accessible way?

    Twitter: @zgjr  Watch his TED talks

  • According to Pepsi’s Chief Design Officer, Mauro Porcini, we can’t innovate in just one dimension.  Today, Pepsi competes with Nike and Apple for emotional relevance. Porcini says that there are three separate dimensions of interaction. The first experience with a brand is visceral—like glimpsing a beautiful woman or man.  The other two steps involve repurchase (which is an interaction that comes from your emotional love of a product or a brand) and recommending (which is the self-expression of a brand through word of mouth). You can’t create breakthrough innovation by addressing just one of these dimensions. You have to address all of them.

     Twitter:  @mauroporcini

  • Kids just hanging out after school are going to discover a cure for cancer, solve world hunger, and create sensors that help previously marginalized and unprofitable subgroups get what they need to live productive lives.  How? Through having fun.  Harvard professor Michael Tushman says corporations have culture and power systems geared perfectly to their existing strategies but that these corporations often aren’t agile enough to shift.  We need to set up creative time to work on the things we want to work on.  Intuit, for example, allows employees to spend 10% of their time on projects they’re interested in, and those hours often yield the innovations of tomorrow.

    Twitter:  @Michaeltushman

  • Those kids I mentioned above are only part of the solution.  According to Kate Ertmann of Animation Dynamics, we need pan-generational partnering to pull it together. Millennials, Generation X, Gen Y, and Baby Boomers all have something valid to contribute, but each generation talks a different language and has different self-motivators (hint: money for the elders and time off for the young’uns). This means each of us needs to learn to be a teammate and learn the language of partnering.

    Twitter:  @GOK8

  • Carlos Dominguez, technology evangelist and SVP at CISCO, says that everything is rebooting.  Business models are totally changing.  Retail stores are no longer mission critical. Distance is dead and consumers are active participants. Now the crowd can conduct piecework for a common goal— the seemingly daunting 100 million hours of development time it took to create Wikipedia equates to what Americans collectively spend each weekend watching TV ads.   

    Twitter:  @carlosdominguez

  • Mike Nelson, Principal Technology Policy Strategist at Microsoft, is a guy whose job is to avoid tomorrow’s policy fights by focusing on global internet governance.  He speaks on behalf of transparency and the need to enlist “teamers” from within and beyond corporate and national walls to solve common challenges.  These sought-after people will have varied skills, learn from their customers, and be led by an executive who supports, rather than manages, them. 

    Twitter:  @mikenelson

  • Even though most things can now be found online, some things remain in the physical world. Let’s face it: we do need to leave our houses sometimes. So follow Johnny Cupcakes—this guy could sell us dirt in the form of a cupcake for $40 and what he’d really be selling us is sustainability, community, and self-love. He consistently delivers “WOW” in the form of customer experience. In a time when retail shops are largely believed to be dying, he’s patented a retail store concept of selling clothes and accessories from bakery shelves. And his fans line up outside his store for hours. Of course he doesn’t ignore online shoppers; he translates this unique experience to his online store too. His products ship in distinctive and delightful packaging.  That packaging costs Johnny extra but those details…well, Johnny knows, just like when it comes to Tiffany’s, we’re buying everything the box represents. 

    Twitter:  @johnnycupcakes

Julie is an Account Executive, she just flew in from the Future of Consumer Intelligence conference where she was in her element connecting with innovative big thinkers on topics ranging from emotion to mobile and complex choice modelling. Follow her @julie1research using hashtag #MRX.

Topics: internet of things, conference recap, growth and innovation

What Does it Take to be an Insights Maverick?

Posted by Brant Cruz

Wed, Apr 09, 2014

Brant surfing 2 (2)Not too long ago, after hosting a gathering of some of the most talented, innovative researchers on the west coast (or really anywhere) I heard a story about another gathering of talented elites—The Mavericks Invitational—the greatest surfing event in the world. Despite the fact that people often request I wear a wetsuit, and I once appeared in local stage production of the Keanu Reeves’ classic Point Break, this was the first time I’d heard of this event. The Cliffs Note version: the event is only held when the waves will be at their most challenging and the 24 invitees are given just 24 hours to make it to Half Moon Bay, CA to have a chance to compete.Basically, a group of the most talented people in their field, heavily invested in a single purpose, makes a beeline to a single place to make the most of a precious moment. The parallels with customer insights are obvious…no? As I see it, we in the customer insights world also have incredible waves of opportunity—for innovation, for serving new segment or entering markets, basically for helping our business partners make critical decisions with confidence. And just like our Mavericks, the best among us need to be nimble and driven enough to bring our partners in analytics, marketing and operations together to capitalize on these precious opportunities as quickly as possible.

Why customer insights in particular? For the same reason they don’t invite belly boarders to the Mavericks. The Customer Insights function (or if you prefer “Analytics Artists”) are in the best position to strangle the data, build coalitions, synthesize results from prior work and multiple data sources and seize the most impactful moments. I mean, who else can confidently talk about robust predictive models with Analytics folks over breakfast, then pivot to a discussion of the results of brand positioning work with in-house ad agency folks over lunch, and finally finish the evening with a nightcap of profitability projections from a conjoint study that will be shared with a CFO?  Insights folks, that’s who!

So I say to you, Customer Insights Professionals, when you hear the call to of a business critical insight that you work has produced, sound the cavalry charge yourselves and bring key members of your organization.  And if you’re feeling at all squeamish, then take inspiration from these famous Mavericks below:mavericks

Brant is CMB's Segmentation guru and VP of CMB's eCommerce and Retail Practice; he awaits his invitation to next year's Mavericks Invitational.

In Miami for Total Customer Experience Leaders? So are we. Stop by our booth and say hello to Julie Kurd @julie1research, and make sure you catch our presentation on the Future of the Mobile Wallet at 2:30 on Thursday.

Topics: consumer insights, growth and innovation