Monday, November 9, 2015

Think Like A Start-Up

In my recent session at the Marketing Society I talked about the need to think like a start-up.

I'd therefore like to clarify further what I mean by this:

1. Support a test & learn culture
I was once told "The biggest issue with failing in not failing.... it is failing to pick yourself up again afterwards", but this is only part of the approach you need. You must also foster a culture that supports failure when it inevitably does happen, by encouraging innovation and testing to find out what works (and learning from those things that don't).

2. Be prepared to pivot
Accepting you are wrong is a humiliating experience and it is also a viable business strategy if your proposition or market isn't working. Lots of start-ups have changed their business model or product to suit a better customer need.

3. Learn from everyone you can
Big businesses tend to know a lot about their current situation (e.g. their products and typical customer attitudes & other insight). However start-ups learn quickly... they have to. But in my opinion it is their approach to fast learning that interests me.
They ask everyone, from people who have used their website or app just once... through to mentors and others who have done similar things many times before.
They ask about their product or service: what people liked, what they didn't like and more importantly how it could be improved.

Does your company do these things?

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Do Hearts Not Stars Indicate Twitter's Plans

So today Twitter has traded the star “favorite” icon / button for a heart-shaped "like" one. This change takes it further away from it's origins as a stream of personal updates to being more of a sociable social network.
The heart, the almost global symbol of affection, moves Twitter closer in interactions terms to Facebook (which has had the 'Like' button for ages), Instagram and even Periscope (the app-based personal video streaming service owned by Twitter which uses hearts as an instant method of feedback).

But does this move also signal something else?

It has been well publicised within the tech & online community that Twitter hasn't been without more than its fair share of issues. Culminating this June with the departure of Dick Costolo as CEO and the instatement to the role of co-founder & Chairman Jack Dorsey. 

Could this move be an attempt to be more like bigger competitor Facebook (which since April 2013 also owns Instagram)? This may make Twitter more popular or useful in the Social Media community... which may in-turn make them more attractive to a buyer. 

But which large tech player would consider buying Twitter at this stage? Something to look-up on Google I suppose :-)

Friday, October 30, 2015

Digital Transformation Consultancy is Big Business

It seems that every consultancy is suddenly talking about digital business transformation or disruption. And just like the digital disruptors, who have been encroaching on the territory of traditional organisations with new and exciting business models that threaten to eat their lunch... the more traditional management consultants and strategy firms have all been getting in on the digital transformation consultancy game.

 From all the marketing information I've received over the last few months, it would see that you're not a modern consultancy unless you produce a white paper on the subject of Digital Transformation and the 'uberization' of business.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

This Shit Is Gonna Get Faster

The pace of digital and technological change has accelerated over the last couple of decades.  Since I started work in the late 1980's everything has changed:

  • There's no such thing as a job for life
  • Wearing a suit to work does not make you the most important person in the room (or indicate you're the highest paid)
  • More and more things (products) now exist as software: music players, cameras, audio/visual editing tools, etc.

To give you some idea of the speed of innovation, TechCrunch launched its Disrupt conference in 2011 where just 45 start-ups demonstrated their products & services. This year at the same conference.... there are 5,000 of them.

However it is my belief that this speed of change, although on an upward trajectory, is going to get faster.

How fast? I've no idea. But if I'm right, the tools for delivering better and more customer-focused products will only get more efficient and the competition to create new and improved services will only get stronger.

Things are going to get crazy and brilliant at the same time... and I'm looking forward to it. So maybe sometime soon that suit of mine will one day stay in the wardrobe and only get used for family events.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Showrooming or Web-rooming?

Physical retailers have been suffering at the hands of eCommere for years. The ability to browser and buy from the comfort of your own sofa (or bed) has been a growing and compelling proposition, especially compared to the madness of Christmas or sale times.

And now, thanks to in-store Internet connectivity and smartphones online shopping continues to grow at the expense of in-store retail. Consumers are increasingly using their mobile devices (mobile phones, phablets and even tablets) in stores to: get product information, check competitive prices and obtain feedback from reviews & social media contacts. They are therefore using the in-store experience to 'showroom' by looking at, touching and even experiencing a range of products only to then convert online.

However this is only part of the story, as the reverse experience is also true. In a recent PWC survey, 70% of the respondents stated that they started the purchase process online, but converted in-store.

This process, now know as “web-rooming" is a growing trend that has benefited from the factors such as:

  • a focus by retailers on an improved in-store experience 
  • better staff training, to help customers purchase rather than put them off 
  • better and immediate stock availability 

The graph below, taken from the report, outlines the specific reasons why the respondents prefer to buy products in-store instead of online:

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Digital Product Design Has Arrived

The creation of a major product tended to be an opportunity practiced only by a limited number of major organisations. The process of: research & development, manufacturing and distribution was the domain of the large company who had time, budgets and resources available. 
These days getting digital products to market is simpler and speedier by comparison. You don't need huge departments taking ages to create something that either succeeds in a known category or fails & folds without trace... online products can be created, launched and refined much much easier. Product owners can now understand their use and customers quickly... then iterate, improve, evolve and pivot to create something better.
It used to be that a physical product portfolio was pretty much set in stone from day one. Deviating from it was difficult and ground breaking. Now digital products cut across categories and almost defy definition as they merge features and functions from multiple industries all at once.

Everything is now becoming software. Ideas are formed, mashed up and reformed in a single development cycle.. rather than being fixed from one product generation to the next.

  • The pace has changed.
  • The environment has changed.
  • The approach has changed.

And the digital product manager is now able to create wonderfully useful and beautiful products that solve problems and look good too.

It is undoubtedly the age of the digital product and therefore the digital product owner or  designer is in the driving seat for the new economy.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Future of Digital - thoughts Part 3

Further thoughts on the future of Digital, inspired by the Marketing Society's Digital Day 2015.

Q: What steps do you need to take to sustainably capitalise on the potential of digital within your business?

Collect and use data intelligently:
Whatever you do… ensure that you both collect data correctly and then use it in the best way possible to learn more and maximise value. E.g. Amazon, Google and Uber (as well as Scottish Unicorns: FanDuel & Skyscanner) have all built businesses based on interpreting and using data.

Think like a start-up:
With a small and dedicated team with the right combination of skills, experience and effort you can accelerate your digital output. Even the bigger digital-only businesses now buy smaller start-ups because they have the desire combination of product, skills and  intellectual property or just an idea.

Retain the best staff:
Keep the good ones and encourage the average ones to find out what they are good at. The biggest problems are those who have a misplaced sense of entitlement or use their efforts against others rather than as part of a team.

This is the third post on the Future of Digital, the first can be found here , the second can be found here.