September 11th, 2015

Don’t Mobilize Your Business – Reinvent It

“There’s a way to do it better – find it!”
-Thomas Edison

The manager of your field worker team has asked for a mobile solution to enable them to access customer information and log data during customer visits. You interview the key stakeholders about their needs, map out the process and describe the mobile customer journey through a flow chart and wireframes. The solution is developed and deployed and just 6 months later productivity increases substantially for the team as they reduce the amount of administration work on a PC by 4 hours per week and data accuracy is increased. Mission accomplished, right? Wrong!

Through mobile, organizations can innovate their offerings and the way they work in two ways:

  1. Harnessing mobile to energize their existing product offerings and workers. Mobile can serve to keep a company’s product offerings more compelling and relevant to its target markets as well as making employees more productive, satisfied and enabling better customer service.
  2. Tapping mobile to develop entirely new offerings. Mobile can open entirely new worlds of revenue. Digital in general, and mobility especially, is an opportunity to reinvent your business including product, process and business model innovation.

In summary, don’t just mobilize your existing business and organization – reinvent it!

At the center of all of this is always the end-user whether it’s a customer, employee or even a machine. Here are four great examples of product, process and business model innovation.

Glowcap: Turning Dumb Pill Bottles into Smart Medication Reminders
Half of people on medication have forgotten to take their prescription medicines on time (or at all), and more than $100 billion is spent annually because of excess hospitalizations stemming from poor medical prescription adherence. It’s all too clear that remembering something as simple as taking medications on time, every time, is anything but easy.

Instead of just developing an application that reminds people to take their medicine, Vitality reinvented the pill bottle with Glowcap to help patients with reminders to take the medicine, keep track of how many pills they’ve taken and get a refill when the pill bottle is empty, plus much more. The product increases consumption of the pills to what the doctor ordered and reduces issues associated with patients not taking their medicine.

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Progressive: Smart Car Insurance
After analysis of billions of miles in driving data, Progressive found that key driving behaviors— actual miles driven, braking, and time of day of driving— carry more than twice the predictive power of traditional insurance rating variables, like a driver’s age, gender and the year, make and model of the insured vehicle.

Progressive therefore gave auto insurance customers the option of installing a tracking device connected to the car and get 10-15% discount if they drive in accordance with what is considered “correct” behavior. The tracking device provides more data for the insurance company to reduce risk and increase profit but more importantly, increases safety and reduces accidents on the roads. The same concept has since been launched by lots of other car insurance companies.

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Vigga: Renting of Clothes
Consumers are being urged to extend the life of their clothing to avoid millions of tonnes of garments ending up in landfills every year. Especially for children’s clothes, which are only worn for a short period of time.

Vigga provides a children’s clothes rental membership service. Sign up and a couple of weeks ahead of the due date of the child the Vigga changing bag is ready for collection, complete with the newborn’s first beautiful wardrobe. The clothing is ethically made in organic fabrics, in a neutral unisex design. As soon as the child outgrows the newborn size members are supplied with the next size up and the newborn clothing will be returned to Vigga, where it will be environmentally friendly dry cleaned and made ready for another new baby.

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Global Manufacturer: Pay as You Clean
One of our clients, a global leader in cleaning industry technology and related machinery, provides cleaning equipment to airports, public transportation areas, factories and other big spaces. Although the equipment is very reliable, the biggest complaint from customers is when it breaks down which is usually caused by lack of maintenance. To solve this, our client wanted to consolidate and analyze its cleaning machine telemetry data, along with its ERP and other sources of data to provide better information to its field services team, sales people and customers.

We helped our client design a solution that allows them to monitor performance, usage, issues, and predict when maintenance is required and provide the information through mobile. Their customers, including its Business Service Contractors, can now review machine data to see if their stores have been cleaned the prior night, determine where machines are physically located, review service metrics at the fleet level and optimize overall operations. On the plus side, the company can also monetize its data by marketing this solution to its customers as a new service and introduce new business models such as a pay-as-you-clean model where the customer pays based on the areas that need cleaning every day instead of buying or renting the equipment.

More Examples?
Nicolas Bry provides an excellent list of Business Model innovation in his blog Rapid Innovation in Digital Time.

What Are the Drivers of Product, Business Model and Process Innovation?
To understand how you can innovate your organization, process, business model and products it’s important to understand the drivers of innovation. You can use these to challenge your business, your product or service offering, marketing or technology team or future strategy.

Possible drivers of product innovation:

  • Changes in customer requirements/behavior
  • Adding more functions/features to meet demand or needs
  • Increasing salability (appearance)
  • Increasing product’s life cycle
  • Improving quality and reliability
  • Reducing processing and manufacturing costs
  • Enhancing ease in manufacturing (removing unnecessary or complicated attributes)
  • Standardization and simplification efforts in an organization

Possible drivers of business model innovation:

  • Pricing and Offering, (e.g. moving from one-off purchase to subscriptions such as Spotify and Amazon Unlimited)
  • Distribution and Channels
  • Sharing economy (e.g. Zipcar and Airbnb)
  • Design and Manufacturing
  • Two-sides and asymmetric (e.g. Google’s free to consumer and advertiser pays model)
  • APIs (e.g. flighstats data)
  • Platform (e.g. force.com)

Possible drivers of process innovation:

  • Improving quality of output
  • Improving productivity and efficiency
  • Controlling and reducing process wastage or work in process inventory
  • Reducing processing time or cost
  • Ensuring timely delivery
  • Reducing health hazards and improving safety of workforce
  • Forced by product design or technology changes

Process innovation often involves working with a small group of operators, workers and customers either to redo the process from scratch or review how the current process can be improved.

Cultural and Human Factor
Don’t forget the cultural and human factor. Lou Gerstner, who helped engineer a turnaround at IBM, notes in his book Who says Elephants Can’t Dance? “It’s been said that every institution is nothing but the extended shadow of one person”.

While it’s OK to build on the legacy of a founder, many organizations need to scrap their obsolete trappings. On the other hand, no business will change or innovate without buy-in from the people.

“Implementing best practice is copying yesterday, innovation is inventing tomorrow.”
-Paul Sloane

Where Do You Start?
According to an article in Harvard Business Review, very few organizations routinely think, “How can we tweak our business model? How can we find a better, more efficient, greater value-creating business model?” Managers and organizations would benefit by thinking deeper about the design and not thinking about it not as a one-time or once in two years thing of, “Is there a better way?”, but as an ongoing, dynamic capability that the firm has. Mobility projects are a great opportunity to not only mobilize what you have, but to rethink what you do and how you work.

So you want to venture into the unknown and reinvent rather than just mobilizing. Where do you start? There’s a myriad of different innovation processes and methodologies but whichever one you choose, start with your customers and employees at the centre of the solution. Business Consulting Group lists four approaches to business model innovation in this article. A recently trending model for reinvention is the Business Model Canvas that we’ve been using at DMI to continuously document, evaluate and review our own business model and opportunities for change, enhancements and optimization.

Our job is to not only mobilize but also to help businesses and government organizations reinvent themselves through mobile technology and every project is different. Maybe this is why I love going to work every day…

Do you agree or disagree? What are other great examples of reinventing products, processes and business models through mobility solutions? What’s the best methodology? Contact us to discuss further!

Magnus Jern, President Mobile Application Solutions

 

Tags: innovation insights Mobility Strategy

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