Pathway2Innovation Corporate Innovation Webinar: Digital Transformation Converting Consumer Data into Gold

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The Corporate Innovation team at Chinaccelerator launched the webinar series Pathway2Innovation last Wednesday, July 29th 2020. The inaugural webinar “Pathway2Innovation: Converting consumer data into gold” focused on digital transformation and highlighted the interaction between corporate and startup and the difficulties each party faces when working with each other. 

The moderator for the webinar was Oscar Ramos, Partner and Managing Director at Chinaccelerator & MOX. The guest speakers for the webinar came from both the startup and corporate world with a particular angle on data and digitalization. 

Our startup speakers come from two innovative startups from the Chinaccelerator portfolio: Genetsis G-commerce and TravelFlan. Genetsis partners with global brands connecting them directly with their end ecommerce customers capturing end customer data and insights and enabling cross platform marketing. TravelFlan is an award-winning travel and lifestyle AI digital solution company utilizing Artificial Technology (AI), Big Data and Machine Learning technologies to provide end-2-end digital solutions. 

The corporate speakers were Kevin Lee and Alexis Richez. Kevin Lee joined us from IKEA China as the Chief Digital Officer with over 20 years of experience in digital strategy, product management, e-commerce, digital transformation, and enterprise innovation. Additionally, we had Alexis RIchez from ZTP. He is in charge of leading China & Asia initiatives for ZTP, the innovation hub from AFM, the owner of Decathlon. 

The panel discussion was divided into different sections focusing from current trends in digitalization, to different challenges corporates face when dealing with data, to foreseeing how to leverage data in the future. 

The value of utilizing data

Firstly, the panel started off with a discussion on the value of data and whether the corporates agree with the metaphor “data is the new oil”. Kevin from IKEA expressed that data is beneficial in different ways, depending on the company. He argues that in reality, when it comes to data, there are two tiers of companies. The first tier being the dominant internet companies whose business model revolves around digitalization and data. In IKEA, the business model is different. 

As a retailer they are very concerned about the future as their “big store outside the city” business model may no longer drive the success it did when IKEA first started as online takes a huge part of a customer’s journey. The company is building an internal customer data platform to achieve a unified view of the customer, however this is a long-term journey and the company expects 3~5 years before they see significant returns. 

Alexis said digitalization is their top priority at ZTP, the innovation division at the AFM group. However, he claimed it is challenging for a corporation like AFM to tackle digitalization due to their traditional background and the fact that their brands are really fragmented, as they started as single companies. Making the decision makers of the organisation follow the new innovation culture is oftentimes challenging and time consuming. Additionally, he highlighted the importance of collaboration, both internally and with external entities, to achieve an accurate usage of data.

Furthermore, Abel addressed the readiness of corporations when it comes to sharing their data, perhaps with a startup like TravelFlan. As Alexis addressed, it is extremely important to share the data in order to enrich its value. Abel, explained that some of the corporations they have worked with may be a bit “stingy” about their data. This is a big loss for the corporations as the more protective they are about their own data, the less they can collaborate with others to utilize the data they already have in their own database to create value. 

German, Managing Director at Genetsis G-Commerce, indicated that from his experience he believes only a few multinationals actually are ahead of the game regarding data. Most brands are not there yet when it comes to figuring out what to share and how to create value out of it. On the other hand, medium sized companies and smaller brands understand that sharing their data creates value that can help them grow much faster and they actually lead the way when it comes to digital marketing. 

Obstacles and challenges

After that, the discussion moved forward and the guests discussed the biggest obstacles and challenges they face respectively when it comes to digitalization. Kevin stated that in a big corporation like IKEA lots of data is collected everyday from huge stores worldwide. The obstacle, however, is to make sense of all of this data. He claims that unstructured data grows much faster than structured data. Once they go through the long process of structuring their high amounts of data, they start to make sense of it and they pick up some of the low hanging fruits. 

On the other hand, from the startup side, Abel said that many of the big corporations they collaborated with have no specific way of collecting data. When TravelFlan receives data from multinationals, it is oftentimes extremely messy and difficult to structure and extract value from. German, claimed that many corporations that sell mostly through e-commerce, rely on data that they receive from big e-commerce platforms. However, this data is structured in a way in which the platform seems desirable for the company. Therefore, the brand has to untangle the data from the e-commerce platoform’s perspective which is a really big obstacle for them.

The corporate speakers addressed the ways in which they make decision makers in the company invest in digitalization and data processing. For Alexis is all about showing the decision makers the facts and evidence with numbers as well as a step by step explanation on the benefits of digital marketing. According to Kevin, it’s all about fear. Retailers are at risk at the moment with new e-commerce platforms becoming more and more powerful. He claimed that when the executive team sees themselves in a “change or die” situation, this is when the innovation team can really sell digitalization. He also stated that it is important to guarantee a return from investing in digital marketing, such as a way of finding high value customers that are perhaps very infrequent. 

Abel added to this, highlighting the importance of successful case studies. These are able to demonstrate the client or executive team of the real aftermath of digitalization with real examples. 

Above we have the summary from the last webinar and we are going to host more in a regular basis. Please follow us on LinkedIn and website to get updated with upcoming events.

About Pathway2Innovation

The Pathway2Innovation webinar series was initiated by the Corporate Innovation team at Chinaccelerator. It is committed to bringing cutting-edge innovation and entrepreneurship stories and insights to any audience interested in topics such as corporate innovation and open innovation. It will be highlighting the interaction between corporate and startup and the difficulties each party faces when working with each other. Corporates want innovation but are stifled by long bureaucratic top-down processes, startups with their nimble yet chaotic spirit. We hope to take this as a starting point to build a bridge of communication and innovation for corporates and start-ups.

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