in business building

Cross industry innovation opportunities fueled by data and new technologies

I’ve worked across number of different Industries throughout my career. I remember representing a shoe manufacturer to selling ultra-luxury jewelry to working with the professional services top-4 in adopting leading knowledge management technology…and many more. It’s been fascinating and interesting to dive deep and understand the nuances.
Even more so I’ve enjoyed seeing how every industry has similar dynamics and building a point of view as to successful “plays” to run across industries. One might think of them as functional best practices or strategies.

Why you should care?
What is new about this is that the default success plays are no longer reserved for just the large firms with deep pockets. In fact: Technology and the cloud is now the magic wand that can empower virtually any firm to lift its level of capability and execute industry best-practices.


Below are some examples:
– strategy: professionalizing and improving the capabilities of your global distribution network. Enabling your distribution network to “innovate and run better” can have tremendous impact across the full value chain and do wonders for your relationship and share of wallet with the end-customer.
– professionalizing Independent retail. Professionalizing the mum and pop store continues to be a significant opportunity across industries, from fast-fashion to jewelry to fmcg. I believe this is a particular opportunity for brands with distribution in emerging markets where “traditional trade” is the norm. The technology opportunity is immense and spans tactical and centrally managed platform and data driven innovations. Consider working with the retailer with apps and light-weight store operations systems and infrastructure to better manage the business, its inventory and promotions and the people, from plain vanilla apps that reduce human touch of daily/weekly processes (ex: light business intelligence with easy replenishment) to more innovative solutions that increase traffic and store sales (ex: external vending machine type hardware for customer self-service when kiosk is closed). Platforms and centrally managed data, which is a bit harder to execute, can provide value to the full ecosystem and move the brand closer to their end customers.
– making available value-added services across worldwide points-of-sale. It used to be that you could only get fast shipping, great return policy and the full selection in the more developed markets. Example: Uber rush: delivery of your purchase from the physical store to your house with an Uber car. Note: This is definitely a driver for online commerce. With the cloud and global platforms available to virtually any person on the planet with a smartphone, this allows retailers today to extend these top-of-the-line offerings to any of their customers. One way to execute on this vision is through the construct of a centrally managed platform where every service is organized and quality controlled (sla mechanisms) and made available for consumption to respective market retailers. With this platform a small fashion boutique belonging to a brand ecosystem can now easily include Uber-rush as an offering to its customers, just as if it was located on 5th Avenue in NYC.

Strategy: improved workforce management and enablement.
In my days as interim GM for the US operation of an ultra-luxury brand I clearly recall the effort, time and money required to train and maintain top of mind with the store reps. With today’s technology, availability of handsets, video conferencing, ar/vr enabled phones, interactive apps and platforms many of which are well suited for training, good bandwidth and internet speed across many markets, the possibilities to support the field through lower cost and resource efficient means has 10x’d. Training and enablement is not just easier, the ability to engage is actually better, even if remote.
Thinking back to my training days, I would spend countless pho e calls and emails organizing the training day, then get on a flight, drive to the store, wait in the back and prep the training, finally meeting the staff (many which would have been pulled last minute to support an unexpected rush) and running through 2 hours of ppt and hands on product training. I’d leave, cycle the routine with another store and come back 6 months later to run the same routine, knowing fully well that I was one of many vendors and that the retention of my training was likely less than 2-3 months (I could tell on the sales numbers which spiked right after a training session). Today a well designed but simple self service app could likely accomplish much of this.

There are many ways to improve a global business but the net is that it’s simpler, cheaper and more convenient than ever as cloud and groundbreaking technology is becoming available to everyone.

My suggested action is to review your top opportunities and business issues, across markets, and contemplate how technology could help solve it. If you’re looking for inspiration then look outside your industry, it’s likely that you’ll find a winning play to copy.