The BPI Network Journal

Fall 2015

Editor’s Note

A Big Year for the BPI Network

2015 has been a momentous and thought-provoking year for the BPI Network—one that sets the stage for great things to come. Since the start of the year, we’ve engaged with many thousands of business and IT executives and professionals in a series of provocative dialogues on the subjects of innovation and transformation in the age of digital business.

We wholeheartedly thank our global membership, and particularly our esteemed advisory board, for everything you’ve done this year to add to the success of initiatives like these:

In early 2016, we conducted a major global survey of members and other executive change agents to rate and review the state of innovation in today’s global enterprises. The study underscored the growing importance of innovation as a fundamental business process and force for growth, while also highlighting the very significant obstacles and impediments, as well as enablers of innovation today. Among other findings, the study showcased how companies are increasingly working with cloud-based innovation platforms to identify and drive new processes forward. Download Report Here.

We also conducted a compelling examination of how emerging disruptive business models brought to market by entrepreneurs and their start-ups are impacting established corporations. The findings showed that big companies are doing more to keep pace with disruptive change, and that customers are the primary beneficiaries. Download Report Here.

At same time, the BPI Network and its sister organization the CMO Council teamed with UNICEF to help tap into the power of innovation to solve some of the most pressing challenges facing under-resourced populations. The result, CauseTech, is a new ideation platform that allows the world’s top innovators, technologists, researchers, and entrepreneurs to respond to challenges from the UNICEF Innovation Center (UIC) and contribute their unique solutions and vie for the winning solution. Join CauseTech here.

Another major undertaking, which began in 2015 in partnership with Dimension Data, is Transform Better Perform, a global initiative to identify the best practices, needs and challenges in driving digital transformation and technology change within today’s enterprises. The program has already developed highly compelling content and reports that are accessible on the program web site here. Right now we’re fielding a major survey of IT professionals to get their thoughts on the obstacles and needs they face in trying to make transformation at reality. Please encourage IT professionals in your organization to take our survey here.

Edison Awards

Does your company, or someone you know deserve recognition? If so, our friends at Edison Award want to hear from you! Each year, Edison Awards asks companies to nominate products that will be judged on four key areas: concept, value, delivery, and impact.

Don’t miss out on this great opportunity! The deadline to submit a nomination is December 4, 2022.

To learn more about the benefits and value of nominating a product, visit Edison’s website. If you are interested in nominating a product, please download the 2016 Edison Awards Nomination Guide!

This Issue

We hope you enjoy the articles in this issue of Brainwaves, reflecting the thinking of innovation leaders like Barry Money, the GM of Retail Development at Toyota Australia, who reflects on the importance of “kaizen” (continuous improvement) and “kaikaku” (revolutionary innovation) in Japanese corporations, as well as Heather Marie, CEO of Shoppable, who shares her views on building an innovative brand by keeping one’s eyes on the horizon. This idea of being mindfully present, while simultaneously looking to the future, is elaborated on in a contributed article by behavioral strategist Rob-Jang de Jong, who discusses the twin requirements of being a manager and a leader in today’s enterprises.

In Closing

We want to thank all of you for your participation and contributions in 2015. The discussion around innovation and business transformation will continue to grow and multiply in the year ahead and your thoughts and insights will be critical to that conversation. In the meantime, we wish you a wonderful holiday season in the weeks ahead.

Feature Article

How Shoppable is Turning Content Everywhere into a Three-Click Checkout

Last month, Forbes – in a key review of the tech innovator Shoppable – stated that, as consumers in the age of digital technology, “we increasingly want instant gratification or we’ll choose nothing at all.” The BPI Network and the CMO Council have long advocated that companies which use integrated data technologies to identify the needs and desires of customers, and who then gratify those needs to make their experience simpler, better, and more affordable, are the brands which are seizing the competitive advantage in the new marketplace.

Shoppable was one of the standout companies presenting at the global launch conference DEMO Traction in Boston last month, which was held in partnership with the CMO Council and the CIO Council. And the central reason why this four-year-old technology company turned heads amongst DEMO’s hundreds of corporate decision makers was that its digital products define what instant gratification means in the digital world.

While Amazon’s model has been hugely disruptive, to the benefit of tens of millions of consumers, this New York-based technology company has a goal that, in many ways, is even more ambitious: “Our mission is to make the entire Internet Shoppable.” In summary:  Shoppable is the original universal check-out, which allows customers to purchase products wherever they encounter them online, outside of the retailer’s website – and to do so in as few as three clicks of a mouse. It is turning passive product references into “live” things across the web – and turning content inspiration directly into easy sales.

Meanwhile, like many effective disruptions, the model sees critical benefits for consumer, retailer, and content provider alike – with the embedded buy buttons also solving the critical time-on-site challenge, with customers no longer needing to leave 3rd party content pages to purchase items from multiple brands. “Affiliate marketing” has been around since the 90s, through companies like eBay, but conversion rates have remained low due to the dozen or so mouse clicks required to make the order. According to the Robin Report, Shoppable defines “distributed commerce,” and what its patent-pending technology represents, quite simply, as “the ‘next big thing’ in distribution.”

In an interview, Shoppable’s CEO, Heather Marie, told the BPI Network and CMO Council that the time will soon come when consumers can click on any reference to virtually any product – whether in an online magazine, or an on-line ad, or on social media – and purchase that product within seconds, and without ever needing to leave the web page. Indeed, online shoppers can already do so from hundreds of sites, and from among 15 million products integrated into the Shoppable software. And Marie told BPI that the technology has already been used 300 million times by consumers in the past year. She said: “Our partners found that, without this technology, it would take 10 to 20 clicks for users get to the purchase – certainly, I’d quit long before I got to twenty clicks. With Shoppable, its three clicks; in a few cases, it’s just two.”

Formerly a sales strategy leader with Affinity Labs and Monster Worldwide, Marie conceived Shoppable in the classic manner of the world’s most disruptive innovators: as a frustrated consumer. “Several times, I’d seen different products online and wanted to buy them – but I’d give up after 45 minutes of searching,” said Marie. “I thought: I’m trying to spend my money here, and I’m not being allowed to. For example: I remember finding a great throw rug on the Elle Décor website  – and then thinking: how do I buy it? How do you Google search that? “Blue-green throw rug Elle”?  Prior to Shoppable, retailers were forcing users to go to you, with all the inconvenience that involves, and then to be an expert searcher. I thought: “Why can’t we change this around, and make products available everywhere they’re encountered online?”

Armed with business degrees obtained in San Francisco and London, Marie worked with leading retail clothing brands like Express Limited and Abercrombie & Fitch, and was on the founding team of digital media innovator Affinity Labs. She has been named one of the 11 “tech gurus changing the luxury game,” and one of the 10 “Most powerful Millennials in Manhattan” by Gotham Magazine.

Marie assembled a technical team, which quickly solved the consumer-driven challenges: first, the software for a universal check-out, and second, “being able to make someone else’s site shoppable and integrated with our checkout.” For example: users on Buzzfeed who encounter Loreal’s Beauty Roulette ad campaign will see numerous combinations of eye make-up and lipstick on a model flashing on the screen. After clicking “stop” on a look they admire, users can click “Buy this look,” and immediately find themselves two clicks away from owning all the products involved, via Shoppable. Increasingly, users will see buy buttons and “shop the story” icons in their content, in which products from multiple retailers will be quickly available without ever leaving the website. Thirdly: Marie’s team had to respond to customized needs among publishers. While most were happy to have buy buttons embedded everywhere, some preferred not to have them on their home pages, and some needed to separate editorial from sales. So while the “buy-in-three-clicks from any website” concept may seem the most dramatic innovation, it’s the flexibility Shoppable offers which could prove the true disruption.

“We created technology which is incredibly flexible – it can be used directly within advertising, such as native ads and IAB, or it can be used in digital media sites. Generally, it makes sense for our partners to use it everywhere on their sites. But companies have the opportunity to customize – if they say: ‘this must be separate from newsroom content’, or ‘we need this feature everywhere except our home page’, they can certainly do that.”

Some famous content providers are using the new model on a seasonal basis: “We created an online shop with the Wall Street Journal; we’ve also done Shoppable content with Conde Naste; we can also work with mobile apps,” said Marie. However – until now – content platforms have had to manually add buy buttons for integrated products.

At DEMO, Marie announced the launch of a new product with truly disruptive potential: “Magic” – which rapidly searches out integrated products throughout all nominated content within a website, and automatically plugs in Shoppable buy buttons. Remarkably: Magic also automatically makes future content shoppable – while additionally excluding products that are discontinued or out of stock. Marie told DEMO: “Magic is exciting because it allows any media company or blogger to go through a single very short process, integrate our technology, and – literally within a couple of hours – it can go through billions of pages, and plug in Shoppable technology, as long as those products are among the 15 million products we work with.” She added: “For larger companies, with vast amounts of page views and so much evergreen content – they can’t have someone go through every page to curate content. They needed an automated system, and so we developed this amazing software which pulls in massive amounts of data and does all the plug-ins automatically.”

Referring to a DEMO call by Donovan Neale-May – executive director of the CMO Council – to harness integrated data to engage customers with more relevant offers, Marie said Shoppable also offered key data insights: “Each retailer only gets their own information – but we have a view into the data of consumer shopping, between multiple retailers and across 3rdparty sites. Donovan talked about personalization and the importance of speaking to consumers one to one, and to reduce hassle for them – and what we do is to bring relevant products, digitally, to them.”

Asked by judges at DEMO about new competition in on-line check-outs, Marie said: “Most other competitors – who launched their platforms after we did it originally – don’t work with retailers. If you ask them, they’ll tell you it’s too hard.  You can’t build a professional service business selling other brands products without permission from the brand to do so. It’s a house of cards that will fall apart. The reality is: to create a true shoppable experience online, it’s imperative that you have connections in with these merchants to provide a trustworthy and reliable service, give users a consistent experience and to expand the opportunities for joint-revenue growth with the merchants.”

Finally, the revenue-share model of the system sees commissions triggered to the content partner and Shoppable, while the retail price for consumers remains the same. Marie said: “One fundamental benefit for media companies is that every website owner wants a good user experience. For instance – Had I been able to purchase that throw rug directly from the Elle Decor website, I’d have had an even higher regard for the Elle brand. Another is keeping the user within your site – the last thing media companies want is for you to discover something you want on their site, and then have to migrate away to Amazon or some other site.” Marie hinted that more major innovations were on the near horizon: “We are constantly developing new technologies, and we have a lot of really exciting features in the next year; even within 6 months.”


How Toyota is Again Embracing “Kaikaku” Innovation to Transform New and Used Car Markets

Barry Money Shares his Perspectives

Barry Money is the GM of Retail Development at Toyota Australia. He spoke recently with the Business Process Innovation Network about how the automotive giant handles innovation and measures success.

1.) How is your team changing the game within your industry sector?
Toyota has the largest number of units in operation in the Australian automotive market. We have more owners on the road than any other brand. Our strong dealer network services many of these customers. With innovative service, finance and repurchase products, we have the ability to move customers from their existing vehicle into a newer vehicle – which provides the customers with that Oh What A Feeling emotion as well as great value.

The specific innovation that my team has delivered is combining the best of our service and sales departments and assisting our customers to move from their current vehicle to a new vehicle. We call this sales and service collaboration. It’s been tried before in the market, but this time we have strong system support, combined with training, on site consulting, KPI management and follow up and most importantly segmentation and one-to-one marketing that tailors the offering to the needs of the customers.

2.) What are some of the biggest impediments to innovation in your organization or industry sector?
The dealer network and the automotive franchises have a strong culture and process that has worked well for a long time. But with an increase in the competition in the market from new entrants such as newer manufacturers as well as newer technologies that facilitate the automotive buying process, plus the threat of policy changes by government, it is important that the industry continues to adapt and change in a dynamically changing economy and market. Therefore, the biggest issue is creating an innovative and dynamic culture that looks to new ideas, new ways, new opportunities and challenges the status quo head on. Risk is part of business and understanding and managing that risk is important. But progress in the face of risk is mandatory. Standing still is not an option.

3.) How has innovation become engrained in your organization’s culture, and how is it being optimized?
Toyota is synonymous with kaizen – continuous improvement. After ten years in Japan, I saw with my own eyes the lengths to which Toyota goes in order to create even better products and services. I was captured as a young executive by the passion and intelligence of my kaizen mentors and I have tried to bring that to the Australian market.

Toyota practices kaizen in every thing it does. However, sometimes, incremental improvements are not enough – that is when “kaikaku” or revolutionary innovation is required. As part of the Retail Development team at Toyota, we are trying new technologies and processes in order to transform the way we do business with our dealers and more importantly how we engage with and satisfy our customers.

4.) What technologies, business models, and trends will drive the biggest changes in your industry over the next two years?
Consumers shop across brands and industries. They expect to be able to experience the same levels of excellence in any category – they carry their expectations horizontally across different industries. This expectation has been facilitated through the internet.

As the new vehicle market has plateau’d, the franchises will be looking to capitalize on their existing owners, the loyalty from these owners and products and services that optimize the customer experience for this segment of the franchise’s market.

5.) Can you share a specific innovation strategy you’ve recently encountered which you find compelling?
Recently we have undertaken a study of various technology-based products in the market that would be useful for our dealer network. WIFI based customer tracking and profiling, sales process support technologies, MAC address tracking on handheld devices among others.

While each technology has great merit in the right context, the key is not in the technology. It is in the connection to the consumer on a one-to-one basis. Technology that can support and facilitate that type of tailored connection with our customers is the next step for automotive franchises, in my opinion.

Contributed Article

Manage and Lead: The Importance of Integrating Skillfully Looking Ahead Into Your Daily Reality

by Rob-Jan de Jong

You’ve undoubtedly discussed this question before: what is the difference between a manager and a leader? It’s one of those ice-breaking questions often asked at off-sites to introduce the concept of leadership. Interestingly, the world of leadership theory is relatively young. Just a little over forty years ago, in 1973, Harvard professor Abraham Zaleznik was the first person to examine the difference between the roles of managers and leaders. He proposed that leaders actually have much more in common with artists than with managers. Leaders use their imagination, inspire with unconventional ideas, reframe people’s thinking and help them see the world differently, Zaleznik observed. More than managerial qualities, this requires artistic qualities. 

Global Chain Ecosystems | BPI Network - Brainwaves

What leaders really do…

The next thought leader who took a stab at it was John Kotter, another Harvard professor, in 1990. He drew some clear lines between the two roles in a classic Harvard Business Review article entitled What Leaders Really Do. Managers budget, staff, plan, solve problems – whereas leaders set direction, inspire, motivate. At a more abstract level, the aim of the manager is to create predictability: to make sure we get done what we said we would get done. The manager, in other words, prevents us from straying too far off the path we decided upon. The leader, on the contrary, aims to anticipate change, innovates with unconventional ideas and adjusts the course of the organization to changing realities. The leader often deliberately challenges the comfort zone of the current course by shedding a different light on it and exposing blind spots, thereby effecting a change of plan.

We all intuitively recognize these differences, and so it’s tempting to hold on to the dichotomy between managers and leaders. But the reality is that – if you have the honor of leading a team – you are both. On a typical day you might even segue from one role right into the other: one moment you are confronting your team members with missed deadlines and instructing them to achieve some immediate results, and the next you’re walking into a brainstorm session where you are expected to share your insights into the disruptive potential of a new technology, and how this would require you and your team to set aside time to explore long-term opportunities. This kind of role switching would be challenging for just about anyone.

Moreover, as we usually work under time pressure, the two roles often battle for time. The manager role tends to come out on top, because the manager primarily deals with the short term, and the leader with the long term (or, as some say, the manager deals with the urgent, the leader with the important). This means the leadership role can always be postponed until tomorrow. Or so it seems. But as you are expected to be both manager and leader, in reality you will need to maintain a careful balance if you want to make your leadership stand out.  

A short-term focus may produce results in the near future, but at the high risk of missing the early warning signs of change that always initially appear in your periphery. A focus on the immediate may produce quarterly results, but possibly at the cost of longer term success. That’s what caused Kodak to miss the boat on digital cameras – it wasn’t obliviousness to digitalization, but the presence of short-term oriented incentives created their blind spot. 

Global Chain Ecosystems | BPI Network - Brainwaves

The plan versus the vision

Back to Kotter and his distinction between the two roles. He added another: managers focus on the plan, whereas leaders focus on the vision. This emphasizes the importance of visioning, the art of (constructively) looking ahead. It also raises a question: how do you go about developing your visionary side when you are already overwhelmed with managerial duties and responsibilities? How can you responsibly paint that compelling picture of tomorrow and integrate that longer-term perspective into your daily duties, conversations, decisions and dilemmas? How do you step up to the plate and go from being “just” a good manager to becoming an inspiring leader?

It’s this gaping hole in leadership and management theory that inspired me to dedicate 8 years to researching “the vision thing”. Almost every though leader in the field acknowledges the immense importance of having a vision as a leader, but no one ever explains how you should go about systematically developing this part of your leadership. And in the absence of any real guidance, it has become tempting to believe that some people have it and other people don’t. Fuelled by the grand, groundbreaking visions of larger-than-life leaders such as Steve Jobs, Richard Branson and JFK, we’re inclined to believe that you’re either born with this quality of arriving at innovative and disruptive future-oriented perspectives, or not. And I disagree.

Increasing your visionary capacity

I strongly believe that vision is first and foremost a skill, and that you can develop your visionary capacity as a leader. Naturally, as with any skill, there’s nature and nurture: some people find it easier to activate their imagination or to communicate powerfully than others. But that’s the case with every skill; some people find it easier to serve a tennis ball than others. What’s important is that anyone can significantly develop their visionary side with the help of several clearly defined practices.

Global Chain Ecosystems | BPI Network - Brainwaves

In my work with executives, and as laid out in my book“Anticipate, The Art of Leading by Looking Ahead”, I zero in on the practical aspect of the mysterious vision thing. The book uses an integrated, multidisciplinary framework that blends strategy with psychology. It discusses the appropriate mindset, the necessary ingredients for vision and the elements of communication that turn your story from largely conventional and technocratic into intriguing, authentic and inspiring.

Above all, I work with a series of practices that stem from a straightforward development framework on growing visionary capacity. This framework consists of the two most fundamental skills:

1. the ability to see change early; and

2. the ability to connect the dots.

The first skill focuses on early noticing: becoming better at distinguishing the signal from the noise in the information overload we face every day. The second skill focuses on (responsibly) finding coherence in the many developments, trends and potential disruptions you will need to integrate in order to arrive at a “big picture”. Both skills can be made very practical; for instance, I introduce the practice of FuturePriming, which is effectively a low-effort practice that easily becomes part of your daily routine and allows your early-noticing side to develop and shine.

Given your dual manager-leader role, vision isn’t just a skill you can develop – it’s a skill you should develop. It’s a privilege to lead, but it’s also an obligation to lead. You have the ability to touch people’s lives, infuse them with meaning and purpose. Your vision is probably the most important tool in your leadership backpack to do so. Abraham Zaleznik considered vision to be “the hallmark of leadership.” That’s what leadership is all about, after all: imagining a better tomorrow, developing a guiding, authentic and purposeful story, and being a source of inspiration to others.

Rob-Jan de Jong is a behavioral strategist and acts as international speaker, executive educator, author, and consultant on strategy and leadership themes. He has taken 8 years to demystify this much heralded leadership concept called “vision” in order to make it accessible to and practical for anyone interested in leading and inspiring others with a gripping vision of the future. He is the author of ANTICIPATE: The Art Of Leading By Looking Ahead (AMACOM / 2015) and serves as (visiting) expert faculty at the Wharton Business School, Thunderbird School of Global Management, Nyrenrode Business University, and Sabanci Business University. He lives near Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


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