In the middle of a revolution of emerging technology and programmatic, focusing on innovation is more important than ever. Organizations that form innovation practices create new opportunities to reach consumers at different points and connect with them in a more meaningful way. At the iMedia Breakthrough Summit in Austin, Texas, Tom Edwards, chief digital officer at Epsilon, and Jeff Donaldson, SVP at GameStop Technology Institute, discussed where innovation fits into the current environment and the challenges that go along with incorporating it.
Donaldson explained that GameStop Technology Institute was formed to have a dedicated place focused on innovation. Linear creation of strategy is no longer an effective concept. Marketers need to dive in completely and understand that strategy is no longer something you create, but rather something you do. You have to be flexible and adaptive because the marketplace is moving fast, and it won't stop to wait for you.
As for an approach, Donaldson outlined a five-step system to identifying and cultivating innovation.
The first step is ensuring that everyone in your organization is aligned and on the same page when it comes to measurement. Only when important factors are identified can a strategy be put into action for collecting data and analyzing it.
The next step is identifying what data you need to collect to drive that measurement and implementing it through equalized channels.
Next, consider the ability to bring in as many people as possible to work with you to get your ideas realized, which include more than just your innovation team. When it comes to the creation of ideas, your employees and your customers can both get involved and contribute.
Build innovation platform
Then comes the step of creating the platform where your innovation can live. Building this platform for innovation also includes test markets to work through the kinks of your ideas.
Finally, collaboration is key to success. Don't be afraid to incorporate all of your teams (finance, marketing, IT, and executives) into your plans and ideas for innovation.
Donaldson also emphasized the importance of a lean team working on innovation. It's a lot easier to drive progress within a small team because you are aware of everybody's contributions and skills, and you should know when it's time to bring in partners for specific functions. He said if you look within an innovative function org chart and there are too many layers, there's something wrong. You want to be able to find the resources you need from within a small trusted team, as large unfocused teams can be far too insular.
Donaldson claimed the biggest challenge facing innovation is the ability to cover all possible areas. With the aforementioned small team, you will occasionally run into challenges that nobody on your team specializes in, and the ability to evaluate and bring in partners is paramount. Another huge challenge is resistance to change within your organization. Clear communication and guiding your team through the journey can help alleviate this struggle.
When asked how marketing fits in to an innovation plan, Donaldson emphasized the importance of keeping a good relationship between innovative function and marketing. He claimed there was a lot of room for improvement in this area at the GameStop Technology Institute, and working toward a goal of collaboration between the two is important. Additionally, testing is critical to ensuring success.
On the topic of content, Donaldson highlighted that you want your channels to be the best place to go to deliver content to your audience by putting the right subject matter in front of the right people at right time. If you're unsure, ask yourself how you can add value and understand your consumers' needs better. Now that the landscape has shifted and the roles of data and emerging technology have shifted, who you're trying to reach and align with has moved as well. As such, you must ensure that you're providing the content that they want to receive.
Agata Smieciuszewski is associate editor at iMedia Connection.