We’re working hard on transforming Sanoma for a more digital future. Boosting innovation is key and includes developing new digital business lines and learning new skills that we can use across the company. For this purpose we have created the Innovation Accelerators and the CommerceAccelerator is the third in the series so far.
We see three domains of opportunity for the future Sanoma. Firstly, we want to provide information and entertainment to consumers across multiple channels. Secondly we want to help advertisers with powerful marketing solutions based on our reach to consumers and insights into them. And thirdly, we want to help to help pupils and teachers to achieve great learning outcomes using new learning solutions.
Winners go to bootcamp
In Amsterdam last week we ran the bootcamp for the CommerceAccelerator – focusing on the advertising domain mentioned above. The top 5 ideas and their owners were selected in a live webinar to build prototypes of their concepts. This followed an inspiring program of ideation and training, of building and testing ideas, which started out with about 220 participants from across Sanoma and included about 70 university students.
We had an interesting and varied mix of talent amongst the team leaders, including people from business development, sales, product management, television and a student team from Tampere. I like it a lot when we have such a diversity of experience and skills at the bootcamp: it makes for a rich and exciting experience!
Fast pace, strong delivery
I love the bootcamps. They are practical and fast paced. They’re very demanding but also a lot of fun. It’s great to have teams of talented and driven people working on building prototypes and testing them with real customers. Making it happen! I believe in learning by doing and this is a very concrete proof of that!
We were joined by Sanoma’s CEO Harri-Pekka Kaukonen, CHRO Jackie Cuthbert and the CEO of Sanoma Learning Jacques Eijkens. They are all strong supporters of the accelerators. We appreciated that they joined us; they are all super-busy driving the transformation of Sanoma, but it is brilliant that they make the time to support the accelerators. A great show of leadership!
At the end of the day on Thursday each of the teams demonstrated their prototypes. They included i) a contextual and sentimental targeting service; ii) a pre-targeting service; iii) a mobile advertising service iv) a gamified service to engage viewers during TV commercial breaks and v) a shopping service bridging the real and virtual worlds. Some of the testing with customers has been quite brilliant and helped to underpin the commercial promise of the ideas. Great validation! (I would like to show the promo video’s here, but feel it’s a bit premature at this stage).
I really like and respect the passion and enthusiasm of the teams and am proud of how they have performed and behaved! This counts for the idea owners and the talented professionals from MakerLab. And also for Lassi Kurkijärvi (@lassi, Director at Sanoma) and Joris van Heukelom (@jorisheuk, Partner at Makerstreet) who once again showed inspiring leadership throughout the program. Great job everyone!
We have promised the teams that we will inform them how we would like to proceed by the end of next week. There are three alternatives: i) create a new venture ii) develop within the business or iii) not pursue the opportunity. I am confident we will pursue some of these concepts and will engage with the key stakeholders to ensure that we will be able to bring them to market quickly!
The world turns of course, and we are working on developing the next accelerator which will focus on 4G and video and we aim to start in Q1 next year. With the launch of our Innovation Lab in January (as part of the new unit Sanoma Digital), which will be led by our mobile superhero Lassi Kurkijärvi, the Innovation Accelerators have become a core element of our transformation program. I see the establishment of the Innovation Lab as a great validation of the success of the accelerators we have run so far.
I’ve been happy about the high level of support that we have won from top management and young talent. What I would like to develop further in upcoming accelerators is to secure more engagement from middle managers. I believe this would help us in transforming the core business. If anyone has good ideas about how to achieve this, please drop me a line!
If you want to get even more leverage out of these talent events/ engage middle managers, then also focus on current (local) business challenges. Besides working on future innovations have these groups also crack their minds on Mashups –> list current business challenges, list innovations and list inspiring platforms/apps and stick these on post-its on the wall. Devide the talents in mixed skill groups and have them select an X amount of post-its of each pillar, they have to use these ingredients to overbridge technologies and come up with surprising ideas which solve current challenges.
Next you have these ideas presented to the appriopiate managers with your and the rest of the leaders back-up.
This way you leverage the low hanging fruits on current operations (relevance will speed these ventures up automatically). We did this with all heads of digital within europe and eventhough there where zero developers/technologist’s present, i was amazed by the amout of good ideas coming into existence in such a short time. Very inspiring to do and doesn’t take much time. Nice thing to add to such a learning/inspiration event.
Hi Floris, yes excellent points. We are about to launch a ‘business transformation’ accelerator which should address some of those opportunities. John