OPINION27 March 2013

In search of disruptive innovation


The future is now, according to day two of the Insight Innovation Exchange Conference in Brazil. Stephen Phillips reports live from Sao Paulo.

Ana Alvarez from PepsiCo joined with Larissa Moralez from Mesh Planning to explain how PepsiCo’s insights department had become a catalyst for transformational growth by challenging the team to adopt new techniques and embrace innovation – a great clientside rallying call. Moralez then illustrated how this adoption of new techniques had helped Pepsi make better channel planning decisions. [Editor’s note: the author is a partner in Mesh Planning]

Next, Eduardo Ramos Schubert of Sax Brazil talked about redesigning the research company. For him, agencies now are too process focused and make too little profit so can’t invest enough and can’t attract or retain talent. He pleaded for a new business model – one that is more networked to work collaboratively to solve client business issues. He thinks that lighter, more creative and horizontal HR structures will lead to closer client partnerships.

Nacho Racca from Ipsos used Kafka’s cockroach as a metaphor to discuss the on-going digital revolution and the upcoming brain revolution. As with other speakers, he talked about how the nature of data and access to it has changed and that increasingly we will need to blend new and old data, with an emphasis on neuroscience.

A client panel then discussed innovation in large companies and the importance of inspiring people internally to create and embrace innovation. There are too many companies recently who failed to do this such as Blockbuster, Blackberry and Kodak.

Examples of slow-movers also came up in Ari Popper’s interactive session on using science fiction concepts as a workshop technique to get people imagining the future. The focus was on creating disruptive innovation, not incremental innovation.

One of the final sessions was hosted by Kyle Nel of Home Depot who talked about changing his company’s brand tracker from a ‘blob’ – a huge, complex beast that no-one used much – to a tracker run on Google Consumer Surveys with just five questions and results in real-time. This saved his company 98% of the costs and made his internal clients happier.

Stephen Phillips is chief happiness officer of Spring Research