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Managing Director of Commerce at o2 comes to visit

Robert Franks o2

Robert Franks Managing Director o2 Commerce

The fast talking director of o2 Commerce came to our offices this week to discuss how his team innovate.

He discussed key waves of innovation with the development of multiple tariffs and mobile phone packages to being the first UK provider to ‘gamble’ on the iPhone, something other providers did not think the public would pay for.

As a telecoms provider they have access to a wealth of customer data but as with all Big Data the challenge is how to develop insight and actual innovation from it.

It was pleasing to hear that they still use classic ethnography as well as Time and Motion studies to augment their data collection. Add this to the Social Media Intelligence they collect, then they are in a position to start to make assumptions and begin the innovation process.

On a side note the recruitment of ‘innovators’ seemed to be an under developed area, they had recruited an innovation team made up of sales people and business developers but there was no ‘silver bullet’ to find that elusive innovation gene! This has always interested me, how do we recognise those people that can look at data and draw workable/testable solutions to problems or unperceived needs? Perhaps for another blog!

The next step is to test those assumptions and Robert emphasised the importance of establishing a control group to validate experiments. What they also do is run a lot of tests/experiments at the same time, why? Because if you run 30 experiments a number will fail but with this amount of experiments one might be successful! By having so many experiments that will ultimately fail it sets the right tone across the organisation, failure is part of the innovation process.

I also like the language of experiment over test. Test implies pass or fail, win or loss but experiment is just that, ‘we’re trying something out’ it’s a process that will give us findings we can learn from.

Ultimately this process gives permission to fail but he does admit it’s a struggle to do!

I will leave you with the questions they ask all would be innovators

Real: Is there a genuine customer need for this?

Win: If we bring this to market will we be the best at this?

Worth it: Overall is this going to be profitable to the company

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