Digital Innovation Meetup Summary @ Google Campus

10387893_671776802916594_1790564367_nI like to publish a summary of my observations and learning after the digital events I attend, even if the event ended a week ago, but it’s vacation season (still!), so bear with me. This one will make no exception, but in addition to my own notes, I used James Ashcroft‘s ones since I was late for the first presentation, getting there just when the Q&A started. Anyway, we had a 3 speaker event with hugely different styles and topics that we could learn from.

The first presentation, the one from Lief Bode Nielsen, Senior eCommerce Specialist at LEGO, is the one that I missed. But here are James’s notes.

· Innovation is critical to the sustained success of LEGO – 60% of toys we sell each year did not exist the year before – and digital innovation is one of the four pillars on which our continued success is built.
· The success of the LEGO movie and the company’s video games past and present is well known but we are also integrating digital into the physical. An excellent recent example is Lego Fusion. We’ve done away with instruction books, you begin by downloading an app and, in the Town Master version for example, you are the mayor charged with building a town. The premise isn’t so different from, say, Sim City, but here you design and build each building using physical bricks. You then take a picture of the building and your creation gets digitised into the game!
· LEGO is also leveraging Augmented Reality in flagship stores. Children bring a box of LEGO up to a screen and it animates the bricks to show the kids what the product will look like once put together.
· LEGO has been using Optimal Sort (http://www.optimalworkshop.com/optimalsort.htm?gclid=CLvKm_rQocACFfMZtAodvnUA3A) to get consumers to help them better organise content online in a bid to realise next generation e-commerce.
· Since 2008 LEGO has been engaging consumers to crowdsource new ideas for its products.

And here are my thoughts from the Q&A: It’s always good to hear that a retail giant acknowledges that the industry has changed and they are adapting and moving forward with branded games (something that I had been an ambassador of since 2010) and e-commerce. It’s a mixture between brick and mortar and online, but the experience of getting into a toy store is still un-match-able. Just wait for more augmented reality innovations and practical use of currently available technologies. But back to Lego. Their site is viewed as the flagship store and they keep rejuvenating their products with Evergreens and in and outs to keep the lines fresh – some years they have pirates, others not, on one hand, while on the other, there are some product lines that stay there for years.

An inside info: they were poached of their VP Marketing, so not even a stellar company such as Lego is safe from such practices. Keep your best people happy.

Next up and with a totally different approach, we had the chance to listen to Michael Abrey-Bugg, Commercial Relationship Manager at Age UK. His presentation was PowerPoint-less, but his examples and experience were very interesting to take in. They (AGE UK) provide services for elder, it’s a charity. However, they raise money through selling products and services to 1.2 mil. shoppers via 440 shops, B2B and online. He talked about installing smart meters to elderly people. Now that was a challenge! They used direct marketing in partnership with EON, sending out messages to 500,000 customers, with a 30% response rate and ended up installing 4,000 meters (a free service offered by EON through AGE UK).

People took to the benefits of smart meters like removing the need for workers to visit their homes to take meter readings and the price certainty achieved by removing estimated bills. He said that smart meters would also facilitate remote switching, allowing customers to have gas/electricity supplied by EON in the morning and British Gas in the evening, for example, or whichever combination gets consumers the best rate.

Besides the transparency and convenience, their studies showed that 8/10 liked the smart energy displays, but even though the contracts said that customers own the data and that then gets transferred to energy companies, there were still major concerns about personal data privacy – some saying that it would be easy for a hacker to tap in and see if they are on vacation or not.

One of my main aha-moments: There is an opportunity for an electricity and gas real-time bidding and switching marketplace.

Last one to present was Max Kreijn, Digital Strategist at Open Activation. Open Activation is a digital innovation methodology that helps large enterprises to successfully embrace and disrupt digital like a technology start-up. It’s like the business model canvas, but for corporations. He’s giving away a whitepaper on his website, called 7 Key findings (check the spam folder). The findings themselves are not head turners, but the cases behind them are worth reading – Car2Go, SemCo, Aribnb vs. Hilton, Runkeeper, Instagram and Coca Cola. Max would welcome approaches from people interested in piloting Open Activation, so he was trying out a sales pitch in front of us. Sorry to say that he still needs to work on that, as I was not really impressed. The whitepaper however is a good read.

That’s pretty much what I managed to take away from the event. The internet of things is being adopted by elderly people, too, retail is more and more synonymous with digital and e-commerce and corporations need to turn into start-ups to grow.

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