Capping IT Off

Capping IT Off

Opinions expressed on this blog reflect the writer’s views and not the position of the Capgemini Group

The Mantras for Building Innovative New Technology

This week we launched an innovative new platform, working in collaboration with two partners, Adobe and a start-up, Twyst, that brings the richness of experience and personalisation of online into the physical retail store. In short it uses the internet-of-things, or IoT, to digitise the in-store experience. A central part of this is a connected bag which knows exactly what items are in it. And since it knows what products are in it this means you can, amongst many other things, enable new experiences like;

  • Providing real-time, personalized offers based on what’s in the bag, available inventory and what the customer already owns. This is a first.
  • Delivering a completely frictionless check-out. Self-service checkout isn’t new but this brings a totally new level of ease to it. No waiting in a line / queuing. No scanning of goods. Just pay and leave.
  • Enabling a host of new, highly personalised experiences like connected changing rooms, concierge assistance, etc. Since the bag digitizes a key element of the in-store experience we can now connect the richness of online data to the in-store experience in a way not previously possible.

This was launched at Adobe Summit this week and it was fantastic to see the ideas we’d imagined, designed and built finally getting presented on the main stage, applauded by an audience of 10,000 people and generating huge buzz at the hands-on demo (see picture - photo courtesy of Cass Taylor). After the team worked so hard on putting it together, to have such an incredible reception is truly amazing.

Building new technology like this is challenging. And this is something that we often forget in the excitement of designing customer experiences today. As we go about our daily lives, using technology at almost every step (and almost without realizing it most of the time) we take it completely for granted that it will work as we expect it to; smoothly and without issues. And although technology makes it easier than it’s ever been to turn an idea into a working product or service, this doesn’t mean it isn’t complicated.

The development of this new platform has been no different. There have been moments when nothing worked as it should, and times when particularly problematic issues were solved by a random set of debates that sparked a solution to something completely unrelated. Throughout this we've found the following mantras to be helpful, keeping us on track and moving forward;

  • Remember the Problem; be clear about the problem you’re trying to solve for (but don’t spend too long on it, you need to start building).
  • Just Uncomfortable Enough; if you’re not feeling a little bit out of control, you’re not moving fast enough.
  • Avoid Rabbit Holes; interesting isn’t the same as useful. When you’re developing something new you often uncover interesting possibilities. Our engineering team loved to explore interesting avenues and we love them for this curiosity but sometimes we needed to call it out for what it is, a rabbit hole that is going in the wrong direction.
  • Fail Fast; don’t be afraid to drop / throw stuff out if it really isn’t working. It's ok if something doesn't work out, just make sure you don;t waste too much time on it, learn from it and use this learning to make the product better.
  • Co-locate; whilst working remotely does work, sometimes you need to be together in one place to fix the complex issues. Don’t get put off by the potential cost of co-locating a team as the investment really pays off.

Though these have served us well, no doubt they’ll be refined further as we continue to evolve our ideas. In the meantime, our focus is on improving, extending the platform and implementing it for our clients. If you're interested in finding out more about the platform, have questions about how we did it, or you think there are any mantras missing or you have feedback on the ones listed then do let me know in the comments or contact me through LinkedIn or Twitter.

Live demos of the Capgemini, Adobe Twyst connected bag at the Summit booth. Photo reproduced with the kind permission of Cass Taylor.

About the author

Ben Gilchriest
Ben Gilchriest
Ben is a Principal in the Innovation and Digital Services team in North America. He has designed and led a wide range of major digital transformation and strategy projects, all with a customer focus, to deliver step changes in operational performance.

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