Archive for May 2014

By What Metric is “Failure” Good?

Rita King and Marc Andreessen have got it right about “Failure” –

“Failures that result from a thoughtful process of risk assessment and a bold attempt to try something new without jeopardizing an organization’s ability to function shouldn’t be penalized. But they shouldn’t be celebrated, either.”Rita King, EVP for Business Development at Science House

“There’s this trend in Silicon Valley that failure is good. I’ve always thought failure sucks.”  — MA, via The Atlantic @pmarca#AtlX – Marc Andreessen, Mozilla Co-Founder and Venture Capitalist

There’s been some great discussion around the topic of whether failure should be celebrated, or not, but let’s not confuse whether we’re discussing this for the individual or for the commercial/not-for-profit entity when we consider the trade-offs.

Perhaps it comes down to this: Whose money or livelihood is at risk? If it is an individual taking their own risks, then no worries. Try. Fail. Pick yourself up. Grow. Succeed. What a great reason to celebrate!

However, if you are a decision maker in a corporation and you are putting millions of shareholder’s dollars at risk, then failure is nothing to celebrate. From our research, #ACT4Value has found that nearly 1/3 of strategic initiatives (principally involving new information technologies) “fail to complete.” Another 1/6 overall “complete, but fail to deliver the expected value proposition.” This is hardly cause for celebration.

For the CFO/CEO investing the millions and getting a 50% or worse “success rate” on semi-routine information technology enhancements, then I’d agree with Marc Andreessen’s view, “Failure Sucks!”

The good news is that much of this innovation failure can be averted, when a balanced “solution performance management” approach is used in lieu of inattentiveness to detail, misaligned strategic intent, organizational unpreparedness or misfit solutions.

That’s the view of ACT4Value’s industry practitioners and thought-leaders, but that’s a topic for another discussion.

Morale: When investing, be willing to fail, but be diligent enough to keep it from happening; then celebrate your hard-won success!

Thomas Dewey – ACT President and Founder, is a CPG/Retail Innovation Practitioner and has invested 30 years applying analytic technologies in the CPG/Retail Industry.   Having earned his BS (Operations Research & Industrial Engineering) and MBA, both from Cornell University, in 2003 he founded Applied Commerce Technology (ACT) as a professional services and solutions company specializing in identifying, designing and enabling high-value innovative technologies, processes and information to enhance profitable growth of the Retail and CPG sector.  Follow @ACT4Value on Twitter.

So Many Retailers, So Little Time….

Like many of you, I have become a very accomplished “speed deleter” of un-targeted and irrelevant retailer email. I believe my record is a hundred and seven deleted emails in twenty-five seconds. Too lazy to actually unsubscribe to the author of the email, I rationalize staying connected by believing that they may actually send me something of value someday.

I wait.

En mass “email speed deletion” may be this consumer’s way of cutting an email marketer off in mid sentence, but with more merchants doing un-targeted email blasts, the lower the open rates will become for everyone. While email has become a preferred alternative of more expensive direct mail, its efficiency is waning as more join the fray.

Alternatives are emerging. Blogger-fed websites and the more established coupon distribution sites are beginning to build a following with shoppers who seek deals and content as they plan their next shopping trip. These sites have a distinct advantage over the email distribution method. First and foremost the shopper is motivated to come to the site, looking for deals.

The more relevant the offers and the retailers are to the shopper, the better the traffic and the results will be for that site. All You, Retail-Me-Not and are three such sites that are gaining traction by creating enough content from enough retailers to make the visit to the site worthwhile for the shopper. They are on the right track.

However, they still suffer from being disconnected from the total shopping experience. Many of these sites have mere passive relationships with the retailer content they post on the site. While coupon codes, shopping lists and circular content are available, a shopper cannot fully engage with each retailer by checking on their point totals for continuity programs, or drill down into their loyalty clubs and personal preferences. For that content, the shopper must go back to the retailer’s own site in turn making the shopper’s life more complicated, not less.

One answer appears to lie in the creation of a comprehensive central content aggregation site, one in which the list of participating retailers satisfy key requisites for shopper-centric loyalty.

I see them as follows:

1. Content: The retailers must understand the enhanced reach they will receive by “actively” posting both targeted and mass content on an additional central shopper/loyalty site for shoppers and use the site as a means to allow full integration into points, personal profiles, and past performance. While they maintain their own sites, this new central site provides the shopper a new, additional option for engaging the retailer.

2. Community: This central site must represent the major players in each of the Shopping Communities built, meaning one or more major supermarket, mass retailer, chain drug, sporting goods, home improvement, electronic superstore, and an array of smaller complimenting loyalty retailers. Consumer Research tell us that Shoppers wildly support the concept of a single site with overwhelming numbers of intended engagement if such thing every existed.

3. Consistency: This central site must strive to grow its community of retailers in both number and volume of content, but promoting a dialogue with its shoppers and retailers, meeting their evolving needs. Shoppers and the components of loyalty are extremely dynamic and if retailers are going to actively participate, they must see the platform as one of consistent growth and progressive thinking.

4. Centricity: Big retailers will not engage any new commonly-shared platform with other retailers unless the central site and its engagement platform embrace the importance of maintaining the retailer’s control of their brand equities and their shopper database. Both are table stakes for participation. Attempting to lure big retailers to the site without recognizing their requirements and strategies, will not succeed, no matter how loud the clambering from the shopper.

Final Thoughts on the Subject

Creating a comprehensive, central shopping/loyalty site will not happen without investment in both systems and strategy. Actively sharing content from multiple retailers ultimately means a Single Shopper ID for each shopper that links the shopper back to each of the retailers on the site. “Innovators” are in the marketplace and focused on just this concept.

Like many “Big Ideas,” a comprehensive central shopping/loyalty site is much easier to image than to execute, but I believe that’s what they said about scanning UPC Codes back in the seventies!!