CTO Gerri Martin-Flickinger talks innovation at Starbucks

Innovation at Starbucks isn’t just about technology; it’s also about language, the coffee company’s executive vice president and CTO Gerri Martin-Flickinger said at the recent Gartner Symposium in Orlando, Fla.

For example, there is no IT function at Starbucks; it’s called Starbucks Technology.

“[Once we rebranded IT,] we started thinking about ourselves a little differently,” Martin-Flickinger said. She said by taking off the artificial restrictions they had in their thinking about what IT was and what it could become, they became something bigger. “But it wasn’t just how we felt about it; it was also how our business partners felt about it. They started thinking about us differently.”

Another word change: There are also no “employees” at the coffee giant, only “partners.” It’s all part of Starbucks’ internal rebranding that started a couple of years ago and includes a revamped workplace culture, technology investments and mission statement all centered on providing digital engagement on a global scale.

“The best technology is the technology that actually enhances human connection,” Martin-Flickinger said. “I can’t think of a better brand than Starbucks that believes in the human connection.”

The star of the company’s digital lean-in position is its popular Mobile Order and Pay app, introduced in 2015. Since its rollout, the percentage of mobile-order transactions has continued to grow each quarter. At peak times, at least 2,000 stores are seeing more than 20% of transactions coming through this channel.

But Starbucks’ digital transformation goes beyond just an app, according to Martin-Flickinger. She offered a glimpse into the present state and future of innovation at Starbucks, which includes a cloud-based platform, collaboration tools, virtual reality (VR) and conversational computing.

Starbucks doesn’t have a unified point-of-sale environment, a single inventory system or a single supply chain system around the globe, Martin-Flickinger said, explaining it would be incredibly difficult to enforce a standard across all of its stores and systems. Instead, some stores are deeply connected on a consistent technical stack, but others are only loosely coupled.

These concepts are not far-fetched. Everyone in this room probably has technologists who could put that together.
executive vice president and CTO at Starbucks

To manage this technical complexity, the company is building a cloud-based platform that will allow for integration and…

Bracket Welcomes New CTO Sam Whitaker

Bracket Welcomes New CTO Sam Whitaker

Bracket, a leading clinical trial technology and specialty services provider, today welcomed Sam Whitaker as chief technology officer to its growing team.

As CTO, Whitaker will be responsible for Bracket’s global product strategy, management and innovation, and technology development and…

Payments Innovation: Beyond The ‘Wow’

Innovation is as critical to payments as oxygen. And in our most recent Commanders in Chief installment, innovation was among the chief points of discussion for Marqeta CTO Tony Ford. As the executive told PYMNTS, tokenization heralds sweeping change across several fronts.

PYMNTS: Speaking specifically of the payments and commerce space, what, in your opinion, is the most impactful innovation in that realm in the last five years?

TF: For payment card issuing, it’s tokenization, bar none. The vision for tokenization and the Internet of Things makes for a secure, frictionless way to add payments to every device that we interact with.

Today it’s our phone and maybe our watch. Tomorrow it’s our cars making payments in a fast food drive thru, a ring on our finger and the wave of our hand to hop on the subway or our refrigerators intelligently ordering more groceries from Instacart.

In the future, we will be living in a world where the payment disappears because it’s ubiquitous and secure, so you don’t have to worry about it.

PYMNTS: What does innovation mean to you?

TF: Innovation needs to speak for itself. It’s about looking at the world as it is and figuring out what else can be done — what else can be better. I don’t want to spend my time taking something someone else built and tweaking it or maintaining it. I want to create something new that solves a problem for someone where there’s significant new value on the other side. At Marqeta, I am grateful that we have been able to invent some really valuable products.

Take what we did with JIT Funding, for example. Marqeta provides modern and open access to payment card issuing, and for the first time companies get the control and insight of an issuer processor without the complexity.

PYMNTS: What does a day in the life of a chief technology officer look like?

TF: As the CTO, I have the opportunity to both lead technology at Marqeta and drive the…

IAG nabs News Corp innovation head as chief digital officer

Brennan IT expanded its team with a double executive appointment, designed to help spearhead growth across its mid-market and channel businesses. The internal revamp sees Wayne Simmonds appointed to the role of sales manager, business development, and Andrew Borthwick to the role of head of partners and channels.
Brennan IT expanded its team with a double executive appointment, designed to help spearhead growth across its mid-market and channel businesses. The internal revamp sees Wayne Simmonds appointed to the role of sales manager, business development, and Andrew Borthwick to the role of head of partners and channels.

IAG has poached New Corp Australia’s head of innovation and product chief, Mark Drasutis, as its new chief digital officer to over digital strategy and experience.

The newly created position sits within the insurance giant’s Customer Labs and covers a broad range of brands, including NRMA, CGU, SGIC and WFI. Drasutis will report directly to IAG’s chief customer officer, Julie Batch, and starts officially in October.

Drasutis has spent the past four-and-a-half years with News Corp, initially as its head of innovation, before being promoted to chief product officer of Digital in February last year. Prior to this, he led consumer products development for Yahoo!’s European, Middle East and Africa teams, based out of the UK….

Gumtree CTO on the digital innovations behind the rebrand

Roisin Parkes

Roisin Parkes

Gumtree Australia’s first female CTO says the company’s biggest customer-driven shake-up in 10 years has triggered major improvements to its website and technology capabilities.

Gumtree has embarked on a rebrand to coincide with its 10-year anniversary this year. The marketplace connects buyers and sellers in the local community, and is visited on average by more than seven million Australians each month via desktop and mobile sites, as well as iPhone and Android apps.

According to recently appointed CTO, Roisin Parkes, a core element of improving the brand offering has been overhauling website functionality to provide both buyers and sellers with a better digital experience.

Parkes came on-board in May as Gumtree’s first female CTO, and took a leading role in the site overhaul.

“All of the changes reflect the level of innovation and development that we’ve been doing behind the scenes,” she said.

Among the list of features in the new-look website are enhanced interface speeds and a simplified processes for buyers and sellers, 24/7 support, and a new payment option. There’s also improved search functionality and speed, including make, model, colour attribute selection in cars; clothing and shoe size attributions; smart category redirects for certain keywords; and a photo attachment capability on My Messages.

“For the buyer side, we’ve made it much easier to find an item,” Parkes continued. “We’ve enhanced the attributes in cars that allows you to find an item based on make and model of a car, for example. And within clothing, you can actually find by size now, which is very handy. And we’ve got some smart category redirects.”

Gumtree has also launched a dedicated jobs app, plus a new option…

Technology innovators: Dave Vander Heyde, CEO of Royal IHC

Technology innovators: Dave Vander Heyde

CEO Dave Vander Heyde is swift to respond when asked what gives Royal IHC its point of difference in the marketplace. “That’s an easy question,” he states. “It’s knowledge; that’s the answer. And knowledge is translated into innovation because you need a good knowledge base to be innovative. “You also need to have a business model of co-creation with your clients.

If I look at Royal IHC’s solutions, it always stems from an iterative process with our clients, which involves many discussions to ensure we understand their problems and give them the customised solutions they need to be able to maximise performance and uptime. “Then last, but not least, it’s service.

If the client gets a solution where their uptime is better than the markets’, they make more money. If we service the product so that their uptime lasts over the life cycle of the vessel or the piece of equipment, then we have a very happy client.”

Royal IHC prides itself on providing the best, most innovative solutions to the maritime sector, including dredging operators, offshore contractors, mining houses, government authorities, and oil and gas operators all over the world.

With its history dating back to the mid-seventeenth century, its operations have evolved significantly over the years – going from having several independent local shipyards to being a globally renowned company with more than 3,000 staff. Dave has held the CEO role since September 2016 and oversees the business from its head office in the Netherlands. Prior to that, he was the organisation’s CFO for a 5 year period.

He says he found the transition into the top spot interesting, and he’s enjoyed the process of gaining a very thorough understanding of the company, its culture and its people over the years, as well as of the products and projects currently being executed.

Dave Vander Heyde

If the client gets a solution where their uptime is better than the markets’, they make more money.

“I have found the move to CEO rather smooth and seamless because I was already involved, of course, in the strategy as a board member, and also in the operations. I never was a traditional CFO. I always did much more than being the man watching the risk and the reporting.

I was much more operational…

Is innovation in Australian business alive and well?

Is innovation in Australian business alive and well?

For 24 years, Pete Jeans has delivered competitive profitable growth for clients through sustainable strategy, continuous innovation, and the implementation of disruptive market realignment.

What’s the rate of innovation amongst Australia’s corporate sector? And what’s driving it? R&D tax incentives? Or more? The Business Council of Australia (BCA) is made up of Australia’s largest corporate entities. In January 2016, 60 members of the BCA responded to a survey on innovation intensity.

The survey showed that innovation is core to their success as companies:

  • 78% have a dedicated innovation program.
  • 75% invest in translating research and innovation into commercial opportunity.
  • 40% invest in pure research.
  • 38% say that improved R&D tax incentives would boost their innovation efforts.

But, just what is innovation? How do you define it?

  • The Business Council of Australia defines innovation as the application of knowledge and technology to create additional value.
  • Innovation can involve the creation of new products and services, improving existing products and services or applying business systems and models in new ways.
  • Innovation can be either incremental or transformational. Importantly, innovation implies that value is created. It must create benefits, whether privately through commercialisation or through the creation of public goods.
  • Demand for innovation is created from the need to solve problems, whether scientific, social or commercial.”

The BCA survey shows that “innovation is taking place across the spectrum of commercial activity, from new products and services; to advanced manufacturing methods and the introduction of robotics; to digital delivery of services and new logistics processes; to knowledge management systems and collaborative ventures.”

Drivers for innovation are apparently different to each organisation and circumstance.

Let’s see what a couple of high profile leaders say about the strategic and operational platforms in business where innovation should be aiming to create additional value. Richard McCarthy is vice-president and general manager at ramsetreid, an ITW-owned Australasian business with decades of experience in the innovation space.

I asked him whether he thought organisations that failed to innovate, lapse into mediocrity? “My view of innovation is that it is about truly, madly, deeply understanding your target customer. You do this to the extent that you’re able to make their life better in ways that they possibly hadn’t imagined.

Without this focus, businesses rapidly run the risk of not remaining relevant to their core customers and end-markets. In essence, you will cease to have…

Can Systems Thinking Help You Think Like a CMO and Drive Marketing Innovation?

systems thinking

Every marketer has felt the pressure to drive marketing innovation. But what does that really mean for the average marketer, whose role includes a diverse range of different factors? Consider a day in the life of a marketer. You’re managing social campaigns on four different networks. You’re editing blog posts, writing blog posts, and trying to solicit contributions from freelancers and internal contributors. There are update calls with your agencies that handle content, creative, and SEO. Your CEO is starting to make noises about redesigning the website again, and that doesn’t even begin to address the actual projects you need to finish this week, including the full setup for a major customer event and all the details for a new product launch.

Just writing that kicked my blood pressure up a few notches, and living it day by day is an entirely different experience. With heavy workloads and ever-changing platforms and priorities, it’s hard for marketers to move from a tactical focus to a strategic one. You often know you need to write and post five tweets a day. But when is the last time you stepped back, asked why, looked at your ROI, and determined how any one activity contributed to your success? If you’re ready to get real results, stay on top of your most important priorities, and ultimately move up in your career, you have to start thinking like a CMO. And that is best accomplished by understanding and mastering systems thinking.

What Is Systems Thinking? Or How I Finally Mastered SEO

Thinking like a CMO involves the ability to see the bigger picture and how smaller factors contribute to end results. However, it also requires the ability to understand how individual factors relate and can lead to meaningful shifts overall. The world is governed by systems: systems we create and systems that we learn how to work within. The same is true about marketing. Systems-based thinking has been described in many ways, but for me, it’s a way to systematically manage complexity and chaos with the aim of deploying the resources you have to accomplish your most important goals.

One official definition of systems thinking is “a management discipline that concerns an understanding of a system by examining the linkages and interactions between the components that comprise the entirety of that defined system.” In other words, it gives you a framework to assess the importance of individual parts of the puzzle, as well as their cumulative impact and how different parts of your marketing strategy affect broader outcomes. That’s what a CMO does differently than a marketer who’s running from tactic to tactic trying to achieve results. They set the vision, assess different options for getting there, and then craft a road map…

Johnson & Johnson CMO: Innovation needs to sit outside the bottle

How long?

2-3 minutes

Alison Lewis, the global chief marketing officer of Johnson & Johnson consumer division, has little appetite for new flavours and variants but instead wants to rethink innovation as a means to solve consumer problems.

Johnson & Johnson CMO: Innovation needs to sit outside the bottle

“I believe in breakthrough innovation. We innovate to solve problems, which then allows us to push ourselves to not just launch the next fragrance of skin cream or body lotions or the next flavour of Listerine. Our products are getting outside of the bottle, the jar, the pill, to bring much more dynamic solutions to the marketplace, ” Lewis said, speaking to Campaign at the Cannes Lions Festival, about her ambitions to disrupt the market beyond lotions in a jar.

Innovation outside the bottle

The former Coke veteran, appointed as the first global chief marketing officer at J&J just over three years ago, has been busy re-engineering brand building at the health and beauty behemoth targeted around innovation pipeline, building global scale and building key marketing capabilities across all the different markets. Lewis outlined the four ‘Ss’ (along with the 4 Ps of marketing) that are required to build marketing capabilities for the new marketer.

“The modern marketer needs to be a scientist, a strategist, a storyteller, and a socialiser. I’ve made sure we have developed our marketing development curriculum around these four Ss to help us engage and communicate with our consumers and help develop…

Leveraging analytics to see the whole story

Leveraging analytics to see the whole story

The race to unlock the potential of data is on. According to IDC, the volume of data created worldwide will increase tenfold by 2025. This means we will have even greater access to a wealth of information, enabling more powerful business insights than ever before. Most organisations already have metrics in place to understand their data. But many are merely scratching the surface and are yet to uncover true data-driven possibilities.

The idea of data creating business value is not new. Business leaders have been making decisions based on data reports for years. In today’s hyper-connected digital economy however, the ability to access data visualisation and intelligent analytics in real-time is vital to organisations looking to gain a competitive advantage. Data-driven enterprises that have access to information at their fingertips have been found to outperform their industry peers by up to 6%. For business leaders, data analytics and visualisation can make or break key conversations with potential investors, partners and shareholders.

What does the data-driven enterprise look like?

As with most enterprises, data resides across a broad ecosystem of sources. The enterprise that can leverage all data, irrespective of its source or location, will be best equipped to act on insights now and into the future.

Data-driven businesses provide a framework for users to see the whole story when it comes to data. They offer the ability for users to input and analyse all their data. Analysis is not limited to preconceived notions of how data should be structured. They recognise that it is often within combinations of seemingly disparate data that innovations occur in today’s digital era.

Data-driven possibilities

With most companies collecting vast amounts of data from their business operations, and the growth of publicly available data, the time is now to leverage data analytics to make better decisions and realise strategic goals. For example, e-commerce retailers, such as Lazada in South East Asia, are leveraging business intelligence to effectively compete against global online retail giants, optimise their supply chain, increase operational efficiency and better support merchant and…