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By adaptive - June 22nd, 2015
The transformation to a digital world is moving full steam ahead and even well established brands and companies are rapidly transforming their business strategies to ensure they are going mobile enough to meet their customers where they are; and that is on their phones, tablets, wearables or other mobile devices.
So to stay current, companies with decades, or even centuries, of experience keeping customers happy are making changes to the way they do business in real-time to react to customers quickly accustomed to service at “start-up speed”.
The Bakery, based in London, works to help companies move towards digital solutions by pairing these firms with other companies it believes can provide the recipe for success.
The Bakery’s co-founder, Andrew Humphries, discussed its operations and digital strategies with Open Mobile Media’s Robert Gray.
OMM: The Bakery works with household-name clients. In your own words, how do you neatly sum up what the company does?
Humphries: At its core, The Bakery is an Open Innovation Network. We work with the entrepreneurial community and large brands to get innovative tech to market fast. In many ways we work just like a dating agency, understanding the brands’ challenges and opportunities that they would like to use innovation to address; then identifying a number of tech companies that are already building potential solutions to that specific issue, before putting the two together in our environment to see if there is enough chemistry to get a paid for trial of the new solution to market.
OMM: In the age of the customer, CEOs often need greater collaboration between the CMO and CIO to drive growth for the enterprise. How is this playing out for companies with which The Bakery works?
Humphries: Sometimes the CMO finds it difficult to get busy CIOs to move as fast as they need or would like, other times, it's hard to justify the time to test unproven new technologies using precious and costly internal resources...in these cases CIOs and CMOs are both agreeing that Open Innovation, looking outside the organization for smart people or companies that are already building solutions can be a great way to experiment, and we've had tremendous results working alongside both departments...this is happening in banks, insurance companies, FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) brands and many others.
OMM: How are you bridging the gap between big brands and nascent tech firms?
Humphries: Our standard approach delivers an ongoing rolling engagement tailored specifically for a single large brand client, or an agency with multiple clients, with the purpose of finding the best innovative technologies against a number of business opportunities, getting innovative new solutions to market in just a few weeks, for far less money than has been possible before, iterating them and at the same time awakening and empowering the entrepreneurial instincts of the business.
The key opportunities here are reduced cost and risk to evaluate commercial viability. Accessing the best, hungry external entrepreneurial talent with technology that’s already been tested and iterated with users de-risks the whole innovation process. We tend to focus less on "campaign led" innovations, looking more for technologies that deliver sustainable long-term competitive advantage, as opposed to shiny gimmicks.
This bridge between brands and the entrepreneurial ecosystem allows large companies to innovate at the speed of startups, using the same model as some of the fastest growing businesses to benefit everyone.
OMM: How are your brand customers benefiting from more open innovation?
Humphries: As a result of the phenomenal successes of The Bakery process, we're now driving key innovations for multinational clients and their agencies, including Unilever brands Knorr and Walls, BMW, Stella Artois, HSBC and Renault, with their chosen agencies. The case studies are now becoming available and make fascinating reading; amazing, innovative, PR-worthy technologies have being trialed for five figure sums by all of these brands.
The Bakery, our approach, our brands and our tech companies are constantly receiving press coverage in technology, marketing and national press, including Campaign of The Week in Marketing Week, extensive coverage in Campaign and Wired, plus coverage in The Telegraph, The Guardian and The Financial Times.
OMM: How do you and the team approach new innovation?
Humphries: We believe in Open Innovation where nobody, not even companies like Apple, Google or Facebook, has the best talent in their building. Instead of looking inward, brands and agencies instead work with, and borrow from, the entrepreneurial ecosystem to deliver competitive advantage. It's about everyone doing what they are best at: tech companies building tech with brands and agencies providing the ‘go to market’ muscle. Three long-term trends have made this approach an irresistible movement:
1. Abundance of customer choice: The internet and development of mobile technologies have given customers huge buying power where only the best technology products and services win.
2. Low barriers to entry and ubiquity of technology: a huge supply of the very best people now work full time on solving one problem brilliantly, unencumbered by legacy systems and organizations.
3. More risk averse companies: our observation is that the culture of “failure is OK” is talk over reality. We are actually seeing large companies being more short term ‘results’ focused and less tolerant of failure.
OMM: What are the risks for traditional companies if they don’t embrace mobile & digital tech in a more holistic manner?
Humphries: Kodak, HMV, who's next? We believe that companies, no matter what size they are, need to innovate, think and behave like small companies.
OMM: How much has mobile turned advertising and marketing on its head?
Humphries: It's been, and will continue to be, a massive change, similar to the effect of TV on newspaper advertising, and we are only at the very beginning.
OMM: What’s the next big step in the evolution of advertising, especially via mobile?
Humphries: It has to be linked much more to personal preference and data, making it more targeted. The most effective approaches we are seeing are those companies who are really looking to add value to their consumers' lives.
For all the latest mobile trends, check out The Open Mobile Summit 2015 on June 29-30 in London.