Tag Archives: Product Development

“The future is always virtual and some things that may seem imminent or inevitable never actually happen. Fortunately, our ability to survive the future is not predicated on our capacity for prediction, although, and on those much more rare occasions, something remarkable does come staring the future deep in the eyes and challenging everything that it seems to promise.”     Luke Robert Mason, Ethereal Summit, May 19, 2017, Brooklin, NY The purpose of this case study is to look at the future impact of social media on organizations. The premise is an expected progression of social media use integration with other integrated information technology–based systems will increase organizational performance. It is a popular opinion that despite enormous potential, most organizations have failed to capitalize on inter-stakeholder collaboration because the elusive but profound emotional factor, being able to trust partners without fear of exploitation, is an almost impossible obstacle to overcome in most existing business-to-business transactions today. The premise then is that the trust factor is likely to continue to be a hurdle in the future. The premise is that through social media integration, collaboration on improvements to product and process performance are possible at all levels and offer the opportunity for substantial benefits. The above are the premises behind the examination of the future impact of social media on organizations. Let’s first be clear: what social media integration platforms are being put forth to change the nature of knowledge work and management inside organizations? In 2016, products like Jive, IBM Connections, Salesforce Chatter, Cisco Quad, Microsoft Yammer, Google Apps for Work, Facebook at Work, Facebook Messenger, etc. were indeed being used to improve performance and foster innovation. In 2017, Slack for chat, JIRA for task and issue tracking, CONFLUENCE for wiki, and GOOGLE DOCS for document editing and management are being integrated rapidly in transformative technology businesses. Social software integration will become a vital tool for transforming virtually every part of business operations, from product development to human resources, marketing, customer service and sales – in a sense becoming the new intra-operating system for the twenty-first century organization. But what if it is already recognized there are clear limitations on today’s suite of tools? And what about that small matter of trust – just what are the economic issues (apart from the ethical ones) about the importance of trust in business? Let’s define trust as the expectation the other party will… Read more »

Markets are conversations. Trade routes pave the storylines. Across the millennia in between, the human voice is the music we have always listened for, and still best understand. — The Cluetrain Manifesto, 1999 In 2014, Sephora, a world leader in beauty retail, joined the 6 percent of brands on SnapChat, blasting their followers with special deals on new beauty products. In 2015, the beauty powerhouse teamed up with women’s lifestyle publisher, POPSUGAR, to do what no makeup brand had done before: attach a mobile shopping function to customers viewing fleeting photos in Emoticode, an app similar to Snapchat. On June 6, 2016, Sephora was the big winner for small-screen commerce on mobile devices at the Internet Retailer Excellence Awards, dubbed “Digital Innovation”. In M. Penn’s University of Waterloo SMBP case study, Sephora – A Pretty Digital Face,  the author explained the essence of digital innovation behind Sephora’s award: how smartphones and tablets contributed half of Sephora’s digital traffic, and how Sephora was one of the first to launch Apple’s expedited mobile checkout platform, Apple Pay, as a payment option in Sephora’s apps and in-store. For years, the retailer had tested beacons, small sensors that track consumers’ smartphones and send personalized messages in its stores A year later, on June 6, 2017, Sephora’s Senior VP of Digital Marketing, Mary Beth Laughton, gave the keynote address at the same Internet Retailer Excellence Awards. Laughton offered insights as to how Sephora, by partnering first with Kik Messenger in Spring 2016, and then Facebook Messenger six months later, introduced its chatbot messaging apps to leverage the power of smartphone mobile by delivering an immersive retail experience that goes beyond mobile commerce and empowers shoppers to learn, be inspired and play through the power of chat. Why the move to chatbots? According to Brian Honigman, a content marketing consultant and the CEO of Honigman Media, a consultancy focused on helping marketers and entrepreneurs see results with content marketing and social media, chatbot apps are mobile’s sleeping giant because they also embrace the power of platforms. That is why the original iPhone succeeded. It was not based on product alone but also leveraged the power of the app-store ecosystem. Messaging apps provide the perfect ecosystem for the next generation of applications. It only makes sense that a chatbot, whose ancestor was exclusively used for communication, and which was dubbed by Steve Jobs in the iPhone keynote as an “internet communicator,” would… Read more »

Climate change is one of the hottest topics in the news these days (no pun intended); and it is wreaking havoc on our oceans. They are now in a state of peril, from issues such as rising ocean temperatures and ocean acidification, leading to massive concerns like coral bleaching and massive marine life die off. Scientists are working to gain an understanding of what is happening in our oceans; the shoreline presents itself as one challenging zone to gather information on. “Researchers and scientists have been scrambling to obtain baseline information about changing ocean chemistry for the past several years, but collecting data in a nearshore environment like the surf zone with high-energy dynamics is not easy.” (Surfrider) “Science knows alot about the deep ocean, but the coast is a different story. Getting data in this surf zone is tough. Researchers call it a hostile environment, where sensors get tossed by crashing waves and buried in ever shifting sands.” (Today, 2016) Fast forward to today – three years and 30 scientists later … we have the Smartfin.  

The company I work for, FlashStock, exists today because brands are trying to connect with consumers and personalize their connection. This brand to consumer connection is driving the ever-growing demand for visual content across digital channels including social media. Reflecting upon the biology of the human brain and how its magnitude processes images 60,000 times faster than written text, it has been proven that major food brands such as McDonald’s, Nestle, and Blaze Pizza are turning to social media to promote their food on photo specific channels like Instagram and Facebook. The aforementioned brands, as well as many other large-scale global brands, are using social media to test and create new products that social media provides to a large community of consumers. These brands can test to the visual appeal of their products and the hype often surrounding these images has been referred to as “food porn”. Representing the necessity of food, for visual and sensual qualities in these images connects consumers as addicts for viewing it. This new concept of “food porn” is what excites and compels consumers to invest in the products being advertised. When the image represents the qualities desired by consumers and an individual’s network comments about it on social media, there is a higher likelihood that others will buy into its appeal. Many global organizations also use social media to easily learn and listen to the reaction of consumers regardless if the audience is reacting positive or negative sentiment towards their products. In 2017 McDonald’s Canada rolled out its “All Day Breakfast” however, consumers took to social media to attack the to be released Skor McFlurry which goes against an allergy free safe haven that McDonald’s is said to be known for. While McDonald’s learned more about what the public perceives them to be, it wasn’t the launch a new product they were hoping for. One other benefit to using social media for product development and research is the ability to test marketing with minimal cost and be able to pivot quickly to make changes. These types of negative events can cost a company revenue, but when done successfully, can present opportunities for dramatic growth. Overall, companies that are leveraging social media for product development and research are being able to bring products to market for appeal and interest much faster. Therefore, companies are realizing higher business performance or return on investment (ROI).

If you’re using social media, chances are you’ve heard of Hootsuite. Founded in 2008, they have quickly grown to become the worlds most widely used Social relationship platform with over 15 million users. The dashboard interface makes easy work of social media integration. Plus, Hootsuite has a ton of blog posts with helpful tips and advice on how to make social media work for you and your company’s product development. How do they know it works? They use it themselves, and are extremely successful at it.

As an International Product Development Specialist with Dempsey Corporation, I know firsthand all of the tiny, painstaking, and highly particular details that go into bringing a product from ideation, to fruition, to the retailer.  From the initial RFP (Request for Proposal) to the actual proposals, to working with manufacturers, buyers and marketing teams, developing a single product can take MONTHS.  In a world of infinite ideas, how does anyone know what will sell?  A buyer’s worst nightmare is backing and investing in a product that flops – wasting value time, effort and resources that didn’t ultimately turn a profit.  And, as a product developer, a buyer’s worst nightmare is also my own.  If I don’t propose and develop products that stand half a chance of doing well for a particular client, my value as a developer plummets.  So how can I (and other product developers) help mitigate some of that seemingly impossible-to-predict burden?    Well, before the internet, we had to rely solely on visiting the brick and mortar stores, attending trade shows, setting up brainstorming meetings, and networking with businesses and people who were doing what we ourselves were trying to do – source, develop and buy products that will ultimately mean success for our enterprise.  Unfortunately for us, what is currently in the stores won’t necessarily be on trend next year, and word of mouth can only take you so far.  However, with the advent of the internet and the introduction of social media, my job just got a whole lot more interesting.  Let me tell you some of the ways I use Social Media in my day to day work as a product developer.

Nowadays it’s hard to believe that there was time when the most popular webmail service – Google mail, i.e. Gmail, was available to the private “invitation-only” audience. Gmail – free, advertising-supported email service is a product from Google. Users may access Gmail services on the web or via apps on Android and iOS mobile devices. As of February 2016, Gmail has 1 billion active users worldwide. It is also the first app in Google Play Store to hit 1 billion installations on Android devices. In 2014 it was reported that 60% of US mid-sized companies and 92% of US start-up companies were using Gmail.

Dubai Autodrome circuit is one of the most modern in the world; it is also one of the most challenging, as it has a combination of high-speed straights and technical corners. The venue is part of the Union Properties Motor city development in the greater Dubai and area. Track experiences give the chance to sample race cars and super-cars through the Race & Drive Center – a perfect place to hone skills and develop better driving abilities.

  Everybody knows of their community newspapers, but few know that these community newspapers are owned, operated and published in Ontario by Metroland Media. It’s a surprise that Metroland Media is not a common household name, having most of Ontario’s community media market share. In fact many people refer to their community newspapers by the name on the front page, but behind it all, is Metroland Media. Metroland Media Group has gone through many stages of ownership and various titles, but has since been remained Metroland Media Group after the 2006 merge of Metroland Publishing and City Media Group. Torstar, originally The Toronto Star, owns and operates Metroland Media Group, Star Media Group and has a diverse and developing portfolio of operations mainly across Canada, as well as other sectors around the world.

On-line retailers have been commanding a higher share of Canadian retail spending every year. The trend is largely driven by convenience (e.g., home delivery), wider assortment (due to absence of physical shelf space) and opportunities for consumers to use social media to share their opinions about their experiences with the product. Amazon.com and its Canadian web-site, Amazon.ca,  are  great examples of successfully capitalizing on the above trends to provide the best in class on-line shopping experience. Amazon has become the largest on-line retailer in North America, selling over 480 million products in the USA and 133 million in Canada.

Victoria’s Secret is a brand known around the world for it’s glamours images of it’s elusive Angels creating a goal that many aspire to.  In the fast paced world of today the excitement of receiving their catalogue in the mail has been replaced by a few easy clicks to  order a little piece of the magic.  Though this provides quick and easy access to the customer,  the company has been faced with the question of how to reinvent that same excitement in today’s world?  Enter social media.    

Role of Innovation in Consumer Packaged Goods Developing innovative products for consumers is considered as one of essential marketing functions at Parmalat.  Product innovation usually plays an important role in life cycle of any consumer packaged goods company. Innovation is tasked to drive incremental volume for the company, keep consumer delighted with its products and provide retailers with increased profits opportunities. In Food Industry, major players, such as Parmalat, are literally expected to come up with new products every year to inject news and dynamics to the category and “protect” their shelf space at retail.

PowToon is web-based software that enables users to create animated videos, According to the PowToon website, “anyone – even if you don’t know a pixel from a proxy server – can create engaging, animated videos with a professional look and feel.” Four years after its launch in 2012, PowToon boasts over 10 million users worldwide who have created and shared more than 30 million PowToons. Product development is ongoing; company co-founder and CEO Ilya Spitalnik recently posted PowToon 2016 Year-in-Review: New Features & 2017 Spoilers on the company blog and social media channels. The product enhancements celebrated in this post were, of course, presented in a PowToon video.

Thirteen years ago Steve Brooks was a husband, and a new father, married to a synchronized swimming coach.  As a graduate of Sheridan College’s Graphic Design diploma program, Steve had taken many photography elective courses and was now a camera and photography hobbyist.  Steve enthusiastically took photos of his wife’s synchronized swimming teams to help with the local club’s promotional material.  This is how Brooks Photography began. Recognizing that parents enjoyed seeing action photos of their athletes, then Markham Synchro president, Nancy Chan, suggested Steve take pictures of all competitors at the upcoming Central & Northern Ontario regional championships.  The photos were a great hit, and soon Steve was at all Synchro Ontario competitions as the official photographer of Synchro Swim Ontario. Taking action shots at synchronized swimming events began to make Brooks Photography a household name in synchronized swimming households.  Parents and athletes alike followed Brooks Photography on Facebook.  Wanting to take the business further, Steve started as second shooter at weddings.   Once he started sharing those photos on Facebook, he began getting phone calls requesting him to be the main photographer for weddings.

IBM is an American technology company with its headquarters in Armonk, New York, United States. IBM manufactures and sells computer hardware, middleware and software, and offers hosting and consulting services in areas ranging from mainframe computers to nanotechnology. IBM is also a major research hub that holds the record for most patents generated by a business enterprise for 24 years in a row. In 2001, IBM introduced the Jam concept in the form of a social computing experiment to engage its workforce. This was completed via a web-based, moderated brainstorming session. Starting in 2007, IBM opened the sessions to external organizations similarly intent on fostering innovation through online cooperation. IBM’s Innovation Jams have been used by governments, academic institutions, businesses and other organizations to address proposals ranging from employee involvement, urban development, to global community engagement through public service. “Jams drive IBM’s research mandate forward. IBM uses the most cutting edge technology to glean information from the data collected. Jams bolster organizational value as specific recommendations are provided to the participants upon completion. Jams are the most effective style of crowdsourcing as they target groups of people with common goals.” Christopher Murray, Technician in Development, IBM

Want a personalized home?  Too many that would sound like a dream, but now it is a reality.  With the tools available through social technology consumers are looking for opportunities to be more involved in the production of the goods and services they receive. In the paper A New Consumerism:  The Influence of Social Technologies on Product Design  Ian de Verve argues that “Social technologies have led to the imminent promise of unprecedented user participation and collective content generation, sharing and personalization.”  It is noted that historically it was not economical to personalize each product in a large scale production environment given constraints in the production process, and in the efficiency of getting  individual consumer input.  Given advances in social technology the opportunity has emerged to personalize the final product through consumer input.  This new method of development provides a more emotional connection to the final product as an individual’s tastes are ultimately considered.

When it comes to credit cards, it’s no longer just a choice between Visa, Mastercard or Amex. Consumers are now tasked with selecting the reward program they want partnered with their cards ( Air Miles, Scene, WestJet, etc.). While the reward programs may be a nice addition, if you’re like me, you aren’t concerned with reward programs and you certainly aren’t willing to pay a yearly fee in order to receive them. You just want a credit card with a low interest rate and no bells and whistles. And this is how Barclaycard Ring Mastercard was created.

Are you familiar with Itty Bitty Ballers? I think they’re hysterical. When I saw the tv commercial last month, I knew I had to have one! I immediately went to www.ittybittyballers.ca and – to my surprise, of the nine original figurines, six were sold out! But what is the story behind this viral internet success? GoDaddy, the world’s largest cloud platform dedicated to empowering small, independent business ventures, has just closed out their Itty Bitty Ballers campaign featuring Toronto Raptors center, “big man” Jonas Valančiūnas (JV). The campaign was focused around JV’s mythical business, www.ittybittyballers.ca.  The site displays his nine lifelike figurines that capture him in action poses, such as riding a Raptor, dabbing, and giving high fives.  GoDaddy positioned our 7’0 centre as spending his spare time creating these miniature works of art. This juxtaposition was amusing and intriguing enough to drive customers to want to adopt the itty bitty JV’s as their own. Two of the nine figurines sold out the day the campaign launched, and then once the campaign went viral on social media, the remainder sold out in less than 24 hours.  From the outset, the advertising campaign (seen both on tv and online) seems comical, but through their product promotion, the team at GoDaddy managed to virally promote the ease of their solutions while supporting a small local business… all through the power of one itty bitty baller.

Bronzeback, Bucketmouth, Football, Lunker, Chunker, Toad, Hawgs, whatever word you choose to define fish, angling for those elusive trophy wall-hanger’s has been part of the human DNA for thousands of centuries. According to National Geographic ” Fishing is an ancient practice that dates back at least to the Upper Paleolithic period which began about 40,000 years ago”. So it should come as no surprise that this popular past time continues to remain a popular activity in the 21st century.  

When actor Chris Hemsworth is not on screen swinging Thor’s hammer, you can usually find him in the gym crushing a weight training workout with Luke Zocchi of Zoco Body Pro. Hemsworth uses Zocchi’s expertise to get in shape for major movie roles, but Zoco Body Pro’s target market is the regular joe. Having A-list clients was enough to attract viewers to the company’s social media, but they have stayed for the incredible content. Zoco body pro has used their social media presence to create a new avenue for a business that started as a personal training, and while they still do that, their new market is global. When training local clients, Luke prefers hands on training. Some people like to be yelled at, that old-school, drill sergeant approach, but I normally train alongside the people I work with and that’s how I like to do it. This strategy is excellent for customers lucky enough to live near Zoco Body Pro, but the company has made a move on social media that will also help potential customers that can’t travel to “The Iron Temple”. They have recently launched a program called Twenty40 training that allows anyone on Earth to try the same workout regimen that has produced world famous results. This is an online venture that provides customers with step by step instructions on how to sculpt their goal physique, as well as giving nutrition tips to help fuel the new body. Zoco Body Pro uses many aspects of social media effectively to run their organization, and this new program will help spread their fitness message world wide.

If you’ve played sports or watched almost any team sport you know the sound of the referees whistle. Those 3 different tones are clear and identifiable and their source is a Fox 40 pea-less whistle. What you may not know is that the pea-less whistle was developed and designed by Hamilton Ontario basketball referee  Ron Foxcroft. His turning point came when he encountered the failure of his standard  cork-pea whistle. Worst of all, it occurred during a game he was officiating in the Montreal 1976 Olympics, with 18,000 booing spectators in the stands.  This event changed his life and the sports world forever. The complete story of Fox 40 whistle is on the company’s website.  

Eight years ago, Brian’s Custom Sports occupied a vastly different space than the one they currently hold. A hockey goalie equipment manufacturer, Brian’s was known as a custom graphic company. They made high end equipment, but customers were drawn to the custom designs they could put on the pads, rather than the specifications of the gear itself. Brian’s changed the game in 2008 when they did something no other company was doing at the time, they created a Facebook page. The introduction of this page not only gave the company a massive new following, but also started them down the path of becoming the leader in technological innovation. Brian’s used there social media reach to innovate products for the high and low end markets.

Social media and connectivity has gone through a long way in changing human lives. As to business organizations, utilizing social media becomes an emerging trend during production developments process. Especially for consumer facing product development, leveraging social media truly helps to break the geographic and segment barriers in order to be more innovative.

“The Hip” Way Social Media Can Influence Small Biz Product Development

TammySabourin   October 17, 2016

If you were using social media for personal or business use in Canada during the summer of 2016, you will have no doubt heard at least something about The Tragically Hip.  The favoured Canadian band was touring in what likely would be their last, due to frontman Gord Downie’s onset of brain cancer.  Concerts sold out and media of all sorts took note of what was developing into a notable time in our country’s music and lifestyle history.  As the final concert came to pass in August – complete with the attendance and interaction of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – an influential social media phenomenon was occurring. Ensight Canada reported, “In addition to multiple trending topics throughout the weekend of the concert, social media posts about The Hip and (Gord) Downie’s First Nations comments generated roughly 20 million potential impressions across Canada over the past week. What’s really telling is that Canada has about 14 million daily Facebook users, so when we look at the impressions generated, we can conclude almost everyone in the country who used the internet or social media came in contact with the story in some way.”

A business cannot remain successful without undergoing change through ongoing product development and design. At one point in time, the majority of new products would be developed through brainstorming sessions – likely with key corporate players sitting around a boardroom table and a large flip chart or white board for recording. Today, product development is vastly different. The current use of technology enables individuals to converse and collaborate anywhere in the world. Perhaps what is of particular interest is the inclusion of social media and how it is now common place for companies to rely on their customers to come up with product ideas. In the world of retail sales, this route can be quite successful. Frito-Lay and their “Do Us A Flavor” contest is a perfect example of a company that took incorporating social media for product development to a whole new level and with great success. Not only does a social media based product development campaign engage customers, it enables the company a chance to create a product that hits the shelves with customers already feeling invested and ready to open their wallets. But is it possible to utilize the same social media product development in other industries to develop services, or possibly entertainment?