Summer '14 Commerce

June 23-25, 2014 | Salt Lake City, UT

How to craft innovation from new technologies

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The most inventive marketers always keep the latest tech advances top-of-mind. In this Q&A, Laston Charriez, SVP marketing, Western Union, discusses the respective roles of CMOs, consumers, and partners.

The most inventive marketers always keep the latest tech advances top-of-mind. In this Q&A, Laston Charriez, SVP marketing, Western Union, discusses the respective roles of CMOs, consumers, and partners.

Q: How do you look for new developments in the tech field?

A: I gather data from my networks, friends, and publications. I read a book a month of diverse themes to stay current. I talk to a lot of reverse mentors in digital.

How to craft innovation from new technologies

Q: How do you turn those new developments into innovations? (How do you implement those developments?)

A: We have a 70-20-10 rule. We always have 70 percent proven executions, 20 percent that have been "beta" previously with good results, and 10 percent that are new to the world.

Q: Where do you look to find partners or solutions that are market ready?

A: We have long-term suppliers that we always tag with bringing us new ideas. We strive to be a magnet for ideas since they know we will be willing to pilot or beta some of them and expand when they are successful.

Q: How do you crowdsource consumer ideas?

A: We have proprietary consumer panels where we test concepts and have consumer-generated idea machines. We also crowdsource some consumer communications, always testing before final airing.

Q: You mentioned that in three to five years the CMO will spend more on IT than the CTO. How do you think the role of the CMO is evolving?

A: The CMO has to be in touch with new platforms and communities, ensuring that he/she is not obsolete and that they are on the "bleeding edge" of digital marketing, but that does not mean that old proven ways to reach consumers are no longer valid. It means that you have more tools and need to balance all programs with the best combination depending on the consumer you are trying to reach.

Q: How do you structure a team for innovation?

A: Always pair deep knowledge practitioners with young Millennials to ensure we are not talking to ourselves. Millennials have a knack to call things for what they are!

Jennifer Marlo is content manager at iMedia.

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"Designer drawing a light bulb" image via Shutterstock.