Develop smart: build less to achieve more
As technical leaders, we see customer experiences evolve and know we must keep up. Yet, our development teams are already working on important features and there’s a full backlog for what’s next. There isn’t enough time for innovation. So how do you stay relevant? Sam Fry and Sean Robbins, technology consultants at Frog, explain how leading digital innovators develop smart – they build less and achieve more.
Frog considers how marketers can be more efficient and embed experiments into their strategy / Federico Beccari via Unsplash
There’s always a new buzz. Blockchain, sustainable technology, machine learning (ML), circular economy, augmented reality (AR), the metaverse. You are sure that one of these new technologies will help grow your business. But which one?
Take ML, for example. You may spot an opportunity, but you’ll need more than talented engineers. You’ll need relevant datasets, computational power and adaptable architecture fit for the future; all at rising costs. One experiment can blow your innovation budget for the whole year. It’s safer to stick to what you know, but then it can feel like your competitors are getting ahead.
We see this all the time. You’ll struggle to deliver innovation with the old ways of thinking. Incredible experiences don’t need unlimited budgets. Figure out what’s important and focus on that. Forget the rest.
Doing that can be tough.
So, here are three simple principles we’ve used to ignite innovation.
Collation over creation
When you have a new idea, you might want to build the solution yourself. That way your company owns the IP – and how hard can it be?
You have a team of developers, but it turns out they are already on projects, so you need to recruit more. Six months later, the project is kicking off and turns out it’s more complicated than you thought.
This happens all the time. But it’s likely someone has already built it – and you can re-use it. This is how we innovate at pace.
Take Frog’s CornerShop project – our retail experimentation playground. Clients come to us asking to test new retail experiences. They need insights in weeks, not months.
We solve that by collating. We don’t build everything from scratch. We re-use and re-purpose, collaborating with our global Applied Innovation Exchanges and innovative retail startups to test our own emerging technologies. We embrace low code and no code, and we pull those experiences on to a single cloud platform, which lets us quickly learn about customer experiences in real-time.
By re-using what is already available, it’s possible to launch a new digital product in weeks or even days. Deciding what not to build is more important than deciding what to build.
The core experience is an enabler
It can be tough to get ideas off the ground. Frog conducted a poll last year, with the majority of respondents listing organizational alignment as their biggest challenge.
It’s easier to get your teams to agree to try something small. So, identify a core experience to build.
For example, a global furniture brand came to Frog with the goal to create a new customer proposition. Usually, organizations run a customer experience discovery – without technology involvement. Frog took a different approach. We identified a cross-cutting core customer experience and included technology in our early research. This enabled us to create an early proof-of-concept mobile app, which integrated with our client’s existing services.
Identifying the technologies and design patterns early meant we developed more than an MVP. We had an innovation platform on which it was possible to bring in other modular experiences. Our first experiment was the enabler for our next experiments. Alignment should not be a blocker to building – it will be built as you deliver.
Small bets, big winnings
You must bet big on innovation if you want to win big, right?
Wrong. High returns are not a product of high-risk bets. Large bets may pay off occasionally – but over the longer term, if one bad outcome means you’re bust, you’re on to a losing strategy.
Instead of relying on one big investment, it’s possible to make multiple small bets. And those big prizes? Rather than being the result of one big bet, high returns are more often the accumulation of many smaller wins.
This is what is happening with Frog’s work on a successful UK mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). We helped our client experiment with a sub-brand to target new customers. Using a small team, we created and launched an MVNO in under six months. Launching quickly helped us learn quickly.
We’ve kept experimenting. The platform has changed radically since it launched, evolving gradually, one experiment at a time. And it’s grown – the MVNO is now one of the most recognizable networks in the UK and we’re going to keep on experimenting.
Testing and learning from new concepts should be the norm. Unless you are smart about where to place your bets and how to collate what’s already been built, you will never be able to do this sustainably. So, it’s time to be smarter about what you do and do not build.
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frog is a leading global creative consultancy, part of Capgemini Invent.Find out more