Archive for March, 2017


Intrapreneurship Programs: Engage your Employees, Activate Diverse Ideas, Satisfy Customers

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Most large corporations have a wide range of customer types. It often spans many countries, languages, and cultures. To help create the right product solutions for your customers, savvy companies are activating their employees (not just the dedicated product team) to unleash innovation from all areas of the company, which results in a diverse set of product ideas.

Yesterday, I spoke at the executive track at the Inclusion Conference in SF to about a hundred Chief Diversity Officers from some of the largest corporations in the world. I was honored to be join by my fellow speakers included Allison Wiener of Clorox, Sandy Carter, Ted Childs, and Pat Waders of Linkedin. I presented three case studies on how MasterCard, Adobe, and Cisco are activating thousands of employees to generate tens of thousands of ideas, many of which go to market.

These “Intrapreneur” programs, which engage employees in their jobs to come up with new ideas, spur new forms of creativity, and generate new ideas that the product teams may not have the bandwidth to produce. Furthermore, this engages employees (esp job hopping younger folks) to quickly make a difference in their job. Over ten years ago we saw “idea” generation websites emerge at Dell, Salesforce, and Starbucks to enable employees to bring ideas forth.

Now, at companies like Adobe, we’re seeing formalized programs emerge with training, executive support, and even a cute “kickbox” which includes documents, energy bars and drinks, and a credit card with a modest amount of money to get an experiment going. By the way, Adobe has open sourced Kickbox, you can download the program and apply it to your own company.

I’ve embedded by slides from the presentation below. I’d love to hear how your company is enabling your employees from all walks of life to generate ideas –Crowd Sourcing ideas doesn’t just come from customers and partners –but also from your own employees.

Intrapreneruship programs are one of ten Corporate Innovation programs companies are launching, learn about all ten in our latest report, the Corporate Innovation Imperative. Thank you Jaimy Szymanski, Adobe, Mastercard, and Cisco for the data, and to Sandy Carter (read her book on innovation) for the invite to speak.

 

How Corporate Innovation Programs are Measuring Success

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Corporate innovation programs are primarily measuring revenue to show success –but that’s a risk, it a small incubated program is being compared to the primary billion dollar business lines. ROI is a fallacy metric of corporate innovation. Basing program success on ROI too early, rather than dedicated innovation KPIs, will not yield an accurate representation of progress.

In our recent Crowd Companies research, “The Corporate Innovation Imperative” (available for download here), we found there is a startling chasm between what organizations are measuring around innovation and which KPIs truly indicate program success from infancy through maturity. Corporate innovators who implement realistic measurement plans that focus on innovation KPIs, not immediate ROI, find greater executive support and are given adequate time to deliver results.

Our survey data of corporate innovation leaders reveals that the most common metric attached to innovation program success is increased revenue (66%), Other top measures of success include greater customer satisfaction (54.5%) and faster time to market for new products or improvements (45.1%) (see figure below for full list of innovation metrics).

Top Innovation Success Measures


Companies should focus on measurment depending on which phase of their innovation cycle they’re at. Lookoing at the classic Agile Startup methodology put forth by Eric Reis, companies (large and small) can focus on innovation metrics (usage, renewal, referral) in addtion to raw revenues.

Though innovators report increased revenue as an indicator of success, mature corporations reveal that focusing on ROI over other growth KPIs is actually harmful to innovation, and that programs should first encourage speed to market and increased ideas cycling through the pipeline. Migros, one of our interviewees, monitors KPIs of possible yield models instead of revenue for its innovation programs, with agreed-upon guardrails like maximum accepted expenditure per year and total investment volume over a period of time. It also plans out expectations for when innovations will break even in order to set realistic measurement goals and act accordingly if and when they are or aren’t achieved.

As companies climb the ladder of maturity, they also begin to clarify which of the four innovation goals (product innovation; operations; CX; or business model) they’re setting out to achieve (see figure below) — both within each program individually and in their innovation charter for the company overall. This impacts the metrics they attach to signal progress. When pursuing a new corporate innovation program, setting clear goals that answer “why this program?” is paramount to choosing the right initiative.


Corporate Innovation Impacts Customers in Four Ways

Advanced companies build their capacity for innovation by approaching innovation goals separately at first (avoiding the trap of too-early ROI expectations), each with its individual programs and support mechanisms. Then, as the corporation matures in its efforts, its programs will strategically progress to fulfill all four innovation goals within a culture of innovation that serves as the lifeblood of the organization.

For example, each of the above innovation goals have different associated KPIs for each, for example Product Innovation will be focused on usage, revenue, and referral, Operational Innovation may focus on reduced costs, higher quality, or faster time to market, Customer Experience innovation may focus on customer satisfaction, engagement, and reduced contact center costs, and Business Model Innovation will focus on newly generated ideas, avoiding disruption or partnerships with young startups.

(Photo via pexels)

These Ten Delivery Drones Are Coming To Your House

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By Jeremiah Owyang, with co-contributor Ryan Brinks

Drones come in many shapes and sizes, and are coming to a front door near you. Retail, logistics, and the way we shop and consume will never be the same.

We call this trend the “Autonomous World” when robots are able to augment, supplant and replace human workers at greater efficiency. It’s happening in all walks of life, industries and sectors, but the one area that will be most impacted will be the retail and logistics space. Earlier this month, I was a keynote at Etail, where over a thousand retailers were present to learn about how on-demand workers and autonomous drones will impact their business models. 

Just three years ago, the thought of delivering packages by drone was a fantastical idea. Today, it is one of the leading obsessions of the tech world, and a future where drones fill the streets and skies now seems inevitable. When that day eventually arrives, it will no doubt change the retail business forever. An estimate from the former White House administration forecast the potential for an $82 billion American commercial drone industry with as many as 100,000 new jobs by the year 2025.

Here are 10 delivery drones that are likely candidates to help companies get there: 

 

  1. Domino’s Robotics Unit
  2. Domino’s is not betting exclusively on either air or ground; if its flying drone venture with Flirtey doesn’t take off  (below), it still has its wheeled DRU, the Domino’s Robotics Unit, in tests on the streets of Queensland, Australia. The 3-foot-tall carrier for up to 10 pizzas keeps them hot — and a few beverages cool too — while speeding along at nearly 12.5 mph. DRU is built by Marathon Robotics, better known for its robotic military targets. Domino’s as a whole produced $2.2 billion in revenue throughout 2016.

 

  1. Amazon’s Drone

 

Much closer to reality is Amazon’s delivery drone itself, which successfully delivered its first order of popcorn and a Fire TV stick to a rural customer near Cambridge, England, in December. The drone is designed to fly under 400 feet with packages that weigh 5 pounds or less within a 10-mile radius of a fulfillment center, enabling deliveries to be made in less than 30 minutes.

Amazon first announced its pursuit of drone technology in December 2013, and with 341,400 employees and $136 billion in 2016 revenue, it is an undisputed leader in the race to deploy retail delivery drones.

 

  1. Flirtey

 

While lesser known than the eCommerce giant it’s competing against, Nevada startup Flirtey beat Amazon to the record books by completing the first government-approved test delivery in March 2016, and the drone that can carry up to 5.5 pounds for a 10-mile round trip further tested 77 deliveries from a 7-Eleven in Reno before the year was out. Unlike Amazon’s drone, Flirtey designed its deliveries to be dropped from a cable while hovering 40 to 50 feet above the ground. The startup has raised $15.8 million and, in addition to 7-Eleven, has also partnered with pizza delivery giant Domino’s for development.

 

  1. UPS and the Workhorse Group

 

No stranger to the intricacies of delivering packages, UPS has driven to the forefront of the drone scene with its deployment of an electric delivery truck equipped with a drone dock on its roof. Its ubiquitous brown trucks have made news in September 2016, when it teamed up with a CyPhy Works drone to make a package delivery to an island near Boston, and again in February when a partner HorseFly UAV lifted off and delivered a package in Florida.

A lot is at stake for UPS; in addition to its standard-setting role in the delivery industry, the company projects that it could save as much as $50 million a year by shaving just one mile off each of its drivers’ routes every day. UPS employs more than 434,000 people and generated $61 billion in 2016.

The HorseFly is an eight-rotor drone developed by the Workhorse Group of Ohio last year, and it can carry up to 10 pounds for a 30-minute flight. As soon as it returns to its truck-top dock, its battery automatically recharges.

 

  1. Mercedes-Benz and Matternet

As would be expected, luxury car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz is upgrading the UPS vision with a drone delivery van concept of its own. This one features a stylish self-driving electric van with a fully automated cargo space and rooftop drone hatch, making the entire process fully autonomous. Mercedes-Benz has designed the van with a 168-mile range and backed drone startup Matternet with a five-year, $562 million investment back in September. Matternet had reported $13 million in funding at the time of the Mercedes partnership. Its drone can carry up to 4.4 pounds and fly 12 miles per charge. The automaker anticipates testing throughout 2017. Mercedes-Benz employs 140,000 and generated revenues of $94 billion last year.

 

  1. Ford’s Autolivery

Legacy automaker Ford isn’t about to pass on the delivery drone opportunity, either. Though lagging behind UPS and Mercedes-Benz in development, Ford recently unveiled its Autolivery service concept with virtual reality headsets at the Mobile World Congress. Married to Ford’s push for fully autonomous vehicles by 2021, Autolivery envisions self-driving electric vans equipped with flying drones for curb-to-door navigation and even skyscraper window delivery. Ford generated $152 billion in revenue last year.

 

  1. Self-Driving Delivery Trucks

 

Mercedes-Benz and Ford aren’t the only companies in hot pursuit of a self-driving retail disruption. Overseas, Charge has designed a self-driving electric delivery van that it says could be ready for use yet this year — and priced competitively with conventional vans. The Oxfordshire, England, startup has been backed by $500 million venture capital firm Kinetik since late 2015. Charge’s lightweight frame can be built by a single person in just four hours, giving the company an initial production capacity of 10,000 trucks per year with just 10 workers on two daily shifts. The electric vehicles are autonomous-ready and emit no emissions over their first 100 miles. A dual mode can extend that range to 500 miles.

In the United States, the retail industry’s interest in self-driving vehicles has focused on larger distribution trucks, and while leading names like Otto and Embark have made headlines with self-driving technology for highway driving, Starsky Robotics has put together a self-driving truck that also boasts of having remote-controlled last mile navigation. Its aftermarket retrofit kit can turn any big rig into an autonomous vehicle remotely monitored by a driver who can instruct the onboard robotics to physically push the pedals, turn the steering wheel and change gears. These remote drivers can keep an eye on and intervene for 10 to 30 trucks at a time. The San Francisco startup with $3.75 million in funding debuted a successful test in February that featured autonomous driving for 120 miles and remote guidance for 20 miles.

 

  1. Starship Technologies

 

Moving even closer to home is Starship Technologies, which has created a wheeled sidewalk drone for small deliveries across town, I visited them at their Redwood City location and test drove their unit. Spawned from a 2014 NASA robot contest by a pair of Skype innovators, the delivery bot can send up to 40 pounds of goods out into the neighborhood and reach its destination within a 3-mile radius in 5 to 30 minutes by traveling at pedestrian speed.

Headquartered in London and engineered in Estonia, Starship just garnered $17.2 million in funding this January and has already inked partnerships in the United States with DoorDash and Postmates, as well as deals in the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland and Estonia with Just Eat, Hermes Parcel Delivery, Media Markt, Swiss Post and Wolt.

 

  1. Carry by Dispatch

 

Another leading contender in the neighborhood delivery race is Carry, a 3-cubic-foot delivery bot that stands 3 feet tall and sports four storage compartments that can hold a total of 100 pounds. While it travels at the same pedestrian speed of 2 to 4.5 mph, Carry is only limited in range by its 12-hour lithium-ion battery. Its compartments are unlocked by an app.

Carry’s $2 million South San Francisco startup, called Dispatch, is testing the bot out on the campuses of Menlo College and CSU Monterey Bay. Dispatch, backed in April 2016 by Andreessen Horowitz and Precursor Ventures, plans to sell access to Carry, not the drones themselves.

10) Amazon’s Flying Warehouse

  1. One of the most widely anticipated concepts for the future of retail delivery is Amazon’s vision of drones literally raining down to Earth from a massive blimp-style flying warehouse. Patented in April 2016, this airborne fulfillment center would house a vast store of popular Amazon products some 45,000 feet in the air and release small drones to glide nearly energy-free to their destination. Upon delivery, the drones would then fly to a nearby collection site to await a return trip to the flying warehouse.Amazon also attained a February patent for an alternate delivery method from its flying warehouse: parachutes instead of drones. And another patent theorizes a system of light poles capable of recharging or docking drones.While the challenges that stand in the way of such visions are daunting, they have nonetheless inspired many to dream outside the box.

 


Challenges Facing Delivery Drones

Despite the prevalence of successful drone tests across the country and world, the real roadblock to a drone-filled future for the retail industry is government regulation. Regulatory frameworks are lacking and commercial drone rules are stifling. The Federal Aviation Administration prohibits drones from flying higher than 400 feet, at night, over human heads and outside their pilots’ line of sight.

Better rules have been proposed, but that process is moving slowly. A government committee recommended standards for drone flights to the FAA in April 2016, and Congress ordered the FAA to create new regulations that would allow for commercial drone delivery by 2018. The new Trump administration, however, has thrown a curveball into that progress via an executive order requiring two federal regulations to be rescinded for every new one passed.

Meanwhile, other workarounds are also being proposed. A D.C. bill to allow personal delivery devices has been introduced, and Virginia was the first state to pass legislation allowing delivery robots to operate on sidewalks and crosswalks across the state. That law, drafted with the help of Starship Technologies, goes into effect on July 1. Similar legislation has been proposed in Idaho and Florida.

Besides airspace concerns, costs and energy usage constraints — particularly in the collection of deployed drones — have hampered drone development.

But with so many players now in the game, viable solutions are bound to find their way to customers’ doors in the near future.

 

 

Corporate Innovation Challenges: Culture, Budgets, and “Frozen” Management

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Corporate innovation leaders face many challenges when attempting to get innovation programs off the ground. Peter Schwarzenbauer, chairman of BMW (a Crowd Companies member), is quoted saying, “Innovation is a willingness not to be understood for a long period of time.”

Change agents are those whose radical, innovative ideas are not internally understood –and the culture of the company resists change that could conflict with existing business models. In our research, we tested to see if technology adoption, relationship with startups, or if understanding new trends would have been a primary cause of challenges –yet over and over, we heard that internal culture was the primary issue.

[Ironically, most Corporate Innovation leaders had more challenges with internal culture –rather than combating disruptive startups from the outside]

As part of Crowd Companies’ research for “The Corporate Innovation Imperative” (available for you to download here), we surveyed individuals responsible for innovation within their organizations. Survey results (below) show that the top innovation challenges include: fostering an internal culture of experimentation and innovation (57%); juggling competing internal agendas and goals (56%); overcoming the middle management “permafrost” layer (45%); and moving forward despite deferred commitment and delayed action (33%).


(Above graphic is from report: Corporate Innovation Imperative, download on slideshare)

 

Top Innovation Challenges:

Our research also included interviews with innovation leaders and strategists from large corporations. During our interviews, we uncovered two additional challenges: keeping up with startup innovations and a steering progress with a lack of clear business goals.

  • Foundational culture change is required to make significant progress.
    Innovators first focus on internal education as a catalyst for cultural change, from external speakers to internal workshops, first at the executive level and then targeted toward other senior leadership. Innovation excursions are also helpful in the initial stages of program development to align executives and teams around what’s possible.
  • Middle management “permafrost” doesn’t support innovation.
    A symptom of a culture resistant to innovation is a middle management layer that can only see short-term goals, not long-term change. As a result, they encourage employees to operate efficiently within their current roles and responsibilities by meeting consistent benchmark metrics. This doesn’t leave room for the innovators to explore new ideas. We heard this middle management layer called everything from the “frozen tundra” to the “permafrost” to the “antibodies.” It’s critical for senior leadership to embrace innovation from the top down, so middle management is empowered to support innovative employees without fear of retribution.
  • Startups innovate quickly, leaving corporations playing catch-up.
    Many companies are burdened with complicated processes, long production cycles, and bureaucratic red tape for moving forward with new ideas. These hindrances stand in direct contrast to the countless nimble startups swiftly prototyping and executing ideas that directly compete with slower-moving enterprises. Innovators commonly turn to educational workshops (in-house or at vendor locations) and university partnerships to speed internal innovation, as well as innovation outposts.
  • Companies lack clear business goals for innovation programs.
    Corporate innovation leaders, who we’ve published more data about their role here, are tasked with tying programs to business metrics and proving ROI to executives, yet they often lack the budget needed to adequately resource said programs to an extent that generates results. There is hope for innovation, though. Our survey revealed four innovation programs with more clearly defined business goals: dedicated innovation teams, innovation outposts, innovation “centers of excellence,” and startup investment programs. Mature companies are even defining innovation goals by individual program, while simultaneously laddering metrics up to overarching departmental and company KPIs.

Companies need to clear the obstacles for Corporate Innovation leaders.
The Corporate Innovation teams are often struggling with internal conflicts –more than combating external startups. When I’ve spoke to these leaders, they are willing to risk their jobs to make a change to help innovate their employer, some said “I’m banking on my employability, not my employment” as they knew they could get jobs elsewhere if it didn’t pan out. It’s key that management help offer them a road towards innovation success. Also, read Steve Blank’s list of the 13 things companies are doing to hamper innovation, or Stefan Petzov of Swisscom’s post on corporate challenges.

(Photo from Cindy Chen)