Executive with a Track Record in Developing Growth Strategies and Solutions: I have devised and implemented winning strategies that have opened up new markets and business opportunities. I have developed strategies that address customer/market needs, secured buy-in from executives/board, motivated the functional organizations to deliver and launched successful products & business models.

 

Family Man: I enjoy spending time with my beautiful wife and two lovely kids. As a family we are a good mix of outdoors and indoors. My son and I are pretty much outdoors and sports oriented while my daughter and my wife like the indoors. This diversity of interests helps us maintain good balance in our lives.

Fab.com : Customer Experience Success Story

This is an updated blog post on the customer experience driven innovation story of Fab.com.

In January 2010, Jason Goldberg and Bradford Shellhammer launched Fabulis.com, a social networking website for gay people. The initial vision of the founders was to become Yelp, Groupon and Facebook for gay people. Jason Goldberg was a successful serial entrepreneur who had successfully exited a couple of ventures before and Bradford Shellhammer was good with design. They both launched this social networking website which managed to attract 110,000 total customers and about 30,000 active users. Though they built a good website, Fabulis.com did not deliver a differentiated customer experience compared to Yelp, Groupon or Facebook, so gay people did not feel the need to use this website.

By early 2011, the founders realized that they need to do something different. So they shut down the site in order to develop a newer, un-served niche where they could be much more successful — one based on design. In June 2011, they launched Fab.com, a flash sales website (i.e. a site that offers products at deep discounts for a limited time) for the fashion-oriented customer segment. more

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Social Responsibility Focused Innovation in Pharma Industry

In early 80s a new deadly disease came into existence, first in some gay men, then in injection drug users followed by users of blood related products. Most of the patients affected by this pandemic has suppressed immune systems and were falling severely sick with diseases that people with a decent immune system would never get. This caused alarm for National Institute of Health (NIH) and they started funding research projects to figure out the basic science behind the disease which we refer to as Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). They demonstrated that Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes AIDS and funded basic and clinical research to discover drugs that could treat the HIV infection. They have also funded clinical trials to figure out the drug combinations for slowing down, halting and preventing the HIV infection. more

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Innovation Process: Essential Discipline for Innovators

Have you heard of an entrepreneur or visionary who believes in a methodical process. Well there are very few of those, but many visionaries do not believe in process. They rather figure things out and get them done. Process for them is bureaucracy which just delays work without adding much value.

Many of these visionaries start projects without performing required due diligence. Many of them realize mid-way through the project that it is not as attractive as they first thought, as a result wasting a lot of time and resources. more

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Innovation focused on Customer Experience

During my consulting years I had the good fortune of working on many innovative projects. And I would share one such experience to show the impact of customer experience framework on innovation.

This project was with a networking equipment manufacturing company (makes switches, routers etc for businesses). We were engaged to develop the right strategy and business model to take away the market share from the market leader (800 pound gorilla).

I started by analyzing the market and understanding the customer experience delivered by each player. Given that it was a B2B (business to business) market with long sales cycle, I needed to understand the primary drivers of customer experience. So I immediately plugged myself into an inflight sales opportunity and learned that meeting customer requirements and having a good quality record was table stakes. The next best factor was brand value of the company and the relationship that customer executives had with networking equipment vendor sales staff. Without meeting these three factors, networking equipment vendors were not even invited to the table for discussion. more

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Airline Industry Customer Experience

There was time when airline travel was comfortable and convenient, with free luggage check-in, free drinks,  free food and in-flight entertainment. Airline Industry customer experience has changed significantly since, and is a prime case study on how customers’ adapt to changing priorities of companies.

For US Airline industry, the priority has changed from delivering good customer experience to being financial sound. Unfortunately, this industry wide priority change has hurt customer experience and forced customers to reconsider their expectations. The purpose of this blog is to analyze the customer experience delivered by different airlines, using the “Customer Experience Framework” (read about the framework here). more

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Netflix Saga: A Customer Experience Perspective

My last blog described a new “Customer Experience Framework” (read it here), that companies could use to understand their customers’ experience. In this blog, I use this framework to illustrate the affect recent Netflix fiasco had on customer experience.

In 1990’s Blockbuster used to dominate the video rental marketplace. They had shops that were conveniently located in many neighborhoods and rented good quality movies . Figure below depicts the Customer Experience delivered by Blockbuster during that time period. more

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Customer Knowledge Chasm: Barrier to customer feedback on disruptive innovation

Many books and innovation speakers talk about importance of customer feedback during innovation process. They believe that building something without customer feedback is like gambling, the results are often not predictable and most innovations fail. Innovation success rate across all industries is around 4%, and there are a few preachers who believe this will be improved by gathering lots of customer feedback before building the product.

While there is some truth to that and customer feedback is very useful in many cases, it does not necessarily help innovation in all the cases. And this is because of gaps in customer knowledge, something that I am calling “Customer Knowledge Chasmmore

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Power of Prototype: Tale of two ideas during Market Research

Having a prototype makes a big difference in market research, I knew of this before but it learned this again during recent customer visits. So here is a blog presenting my learning around “Power of Prototype”.

Background:

The best way to present this is by telling a tale of two ideas; to maintain confidentiality I would call them idea #1 and idea #2. Idea #1 is a new idea for us and for our customers, something that will create a product category. Idea #2 is new to us but there are products out there that serve the purpose. more

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Why Innovation Metrics need to be different from other Business Metrics?

Business Metrics are important for any business, as metrics  motivate employees to do the right thing for the business. Also, metrics help in understanding current business performance and in continuous improvement.

Senior leaders often question the need for separate metrics for innovation projects and established business. They measure both new innovation projects and established businesses using the same metrics. This approach will choke innovation and will lead to more sustaining improvements, and not disruptive innovations. In this blog I highlight the need for separate new innovation metrics. more

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Understanding non-consumption and barriers to innovation

Have you ever wondered why people use a paper based workflow, when there are more efficient software solutions available for doing the same job? This is referred to as non-consumption, when users prefer not so effective methods for doing a particular job while better solutions are available in the market.

The reason is that non-consumption is most difficult to understand and solve, and it cannot be solved by dreaming up and developing a product within office walls. To disrupt non-consumption, the innovators need to get in front of the customers (those who are non-consumers) and understand why they don’t use the available solutions. Once you understand the reasons you can try to solve for eliminating non-consumption and many times this has nothing to do with the product. In this blog I would highlight few reasons why non-consumption exists, drawing from my experience and reasons suggested in a must read book “The Innovator Guide to Growth “.

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