Tag Archives: Open Innovation

CommerceAccelerator goes to bootcamp

commerce-accelerator-bootcamp-selectionLast week in a live broadcast, we selected the five winning concepts and idea owners who will join us this week at the bootcamp of the CommerceAccelerator in Amsterdam. We will build prototypes of these ideas and test them with customers, as a pre-cursor to deciding which concepts to sponsor as new ventures at Sanoma.

Two big goals

We have two main objectives for the accelerator programs.

Firstly, we want to develop new digital business lines – to plant the seeds of the next generation of Sanoma products and services. We have set ourselves the target of establishing five new ventures (the “fabulous five”) within the next five years that have clearly demonstrated the potential to become as successful as NU.nl is today. From the first two accelerators we have created six new ventures and we will soon reach the critical moment when we decide which of them to boost further and which to discontinue.

Secondly, we want to develop lean development skills across Sanoma to support the overall digital transformation. We want 20% of all employees to join an accelerator program in the next five years. By the end of 2014, we expect that more than 1.000 Sanoma employees will have participated in an accelerator and learned the lean development methodology.

So far, so good :-).

Why the CommerceAccelerator?

This is the third accelerator in the series so far and focuses on enabling commerce. We see three domains of opportunity where Sanoma has the ability and ambition to succeed: i) creating, curating and distributing content for consumers ii) providing powerful marketing solutions to advertisers and iii) supporting learning and education. This accelerator clearly supports our ambitions in the second domain.

Positive and optimistic

I’m enthusiastic about how this accelerator has been going so far. I love the positive energy and can-do attitude of the people. This time we have made the accelerator “open” to university students and that’s brought it an extra edge, a new freshness. I like it when we innovate the innovation programs :-). It’s also been great to see such a good mix of people: Sanoma and Students; Finland and The Netherlands; Print, Digital and TV. Lassi and Joris have done a wonderful job again: every time we do it, it grows and gets better.

Voting criteria

The ten concepts and their owners were all strong and had put forward excellent pitches. Prior to the selection I advised the voters to consider five criteria when making their decision: i) does it fit our strategy? ii) are we capable of doing it? iii) can we earn money from it? iv) can this person make it happen and v) is the lean development method being well used? I don’t know if anyone listened to the advice, but I am happy with the results of the voting :-).

High Five

Voting was tense and the public rounds went to the wire a couple of times. The three concepts selected from the public voting included propositions for mobile advertising, engaging tv ads and marrying offline and online commerce. Two additional concepts won “wildcards” from the expert jury based on the expectation that they would be well position to “make it happen”: a reverse retargeting proposition and a relevant and engaging online advertising service.

Excited about bootcamp

I’m truly excited to see what the idea owners will create at bootcamp this week! What can we make of these concepts? Might one of them eventually become one of the fabulous five? I’m sure that most of the participants will experience this as one of the best weeks in their professional lives so far: hard work, fast pace, rapid learning, focus on delivery and a lot of fun too! Tomorrow morning is the kick-off and by the end of Thursday afternoon we will see what the teams are capable of.

So, good luck to the teams and do your best! Looking forward >>

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Wise crowds and wildcards: the moment of truth for the CommerceAccelerator

Commerce-Accelerator-logoMid-September we kicked off the #CommerceAccelerator. This is the third in the series of Innovation Accelerators at Sanoma. We have two big goals for the program: i) to build new business lines and ii) to learn new skills.  As a direct result of the first two accelerators we have established six new start-ups and by the end of this accelerator almost 450 of our most talented employees will have learned new skills about Lean Innovation.  We believe this will boost our capability to succeed in the overall digital transformation of the company.

This accelerator has two new angles. Firstly, we are focusing on “enabling commerce” rather than creating and distributing content: how can we use our ability to inspire, engage and reach consumers to enable commerce? And secondly we have opened up the process to include about 70 students from 6 European universities, to bring an extra richness of talent and ideas. This has given a great new twist to the proceedings.

Vote yes to make it happen

Previously we have selected the top ten ideas and their owners to build pro-MVPs. vote-yesTomorrow evening is the moment of truth!  In a live webinar we will select the top five that will be given the opportunity to go to bootcamp. At the bootcamp we will be build working prototypes and evaluate the potential of both the concept and idea owner to take the next step in our intrapreneurship program and establish a new venture at Sanoma.  Places at bootcamp are highly coveted and are a ticket to build your idea and show your talent at our company.

Wisdom of the crowd and expert opinions

Three of the five winners will be chosen by the public vote with the final two positions awarded by a team of experts (the “wildcards”). We took a first view on the ten competitors in the expert team last week and made a preliminary ranking for the wildcards. The experts tend to use the wildcards to strengthen alignment with the overall strategic goals of Sanoma. It was really great to see the pitches and concepts – it’s going to be a hard fight for the places tomorrow! In previous accelerators it’s been remarkable to notice how similar the voting of the wisdom of the crowd and the experts has been.  In some ways that gives a certain level of confidence that we are making the best choices. (In others, I wonder if I could save some money on the experts :-)).

Three criteria

There are three key criteria that will be considered when voting. 1. Strategic fit with Sanoma.  2. Ability to operate.  3. Financial attractiveness.  Most of the ideas tend to score highly on the first two points, partly due to the guidance we give during the process and partly because of the experience of the participants.  My biggest question usually relates to the financial attractiveness of the idea – particularly with regard to scale. What are the ideas that could really succeed at scale?

Intrapreneurs

Last week we reviewed the first quarter performance of the new ventures Hubly and SpotandShop that we created from the #ContentAccelerator.  I was truly impressed by the progress Birgit and Nikky have made, including first sales already!  It’s really brilliant how they have taken the opportunity and brought it to life. Respect!  I hope this is a sign of what is to come from the #CommerceAccelerator.

Good luck

So, I’m excited about the outcome of tomorrow’s voting.  Good luck to the ten teams competing and thanks to everyone who joined the program. It will be great to see the winners at bootcamp in Amsterdam during the week of 9 December! Looking forward >>. 

I’m interested to hear how other corporations boost innovation, or any feedback or comments you have on our program – feel free to drop me a line!

 

NU-lab: open innovation in the news

NU nl InfographicOne of the absolute success stories of Sanoma in recent years has been the illustrious growth of NU.nl, the leading news site by visitors and strongest media brand in The Netherlands. NU.nl prides itself on speed (“the latest news first”), neutrality and user-friendliness and I pride myself on being one of its heaviest users :-).

Usage of NU.nl has grown rapidly from about 500 M page views per month in the summer of 2011 to almost 1.000 M by the summer of this year. That’s massive engagement, especially if you consider there are less than 17 M inhabitants in the country!  This spectacular growth has been driven by mobile consumption – more than 2/3 of page views now come from mobile, with Android devices leading the charge recently.  NU-apps have been downloaded almost 5 M times so far.

Strong  Sanoma Digital Network

NU.nl is a cornerstone of Sanoma’s digital networkcomScore ranks Sanoma #4 of the big 5 in The Netherlands with 8.5 M unique visitors (MUV) in October 2013  – behind Google, Microsoft and Facebook (12.7, 11.1 and 9.8 MUV, respectively), but ahead of eBay (7.1 MUV).  Other Dutch media groups are also performing well and are represented in the top 20, but lack the reach of Sanoma.  The state-subsidised NPO, and privately run TMG, De Persgroep and RTL Groep, registered a reach of 6.3, 6.2, 5.3 and 5.2 MUV respectively in October.

NU.nl is also a cornerstone of the newly formed business unit Sanoma Digital that will boost digital growth, innovation and capabilities at Sanoma.  Sander Stallinga, the superstar publisher of NU.nl will lead the domain of Digital Content in the new Management Team.

Winning team at NU.nl

The success of NU.nl has been created by the NU.nl team and I am really proud of that team. One of the things I respect about them is that they are looking ahead. This is a sign of a winning team! It can be easy to sit back and relax when you achieve success.  But this team is working hard on further developing the brand to make it even more relevant for our customers in the future.  Part of this relates to extending NU.nl into new verticals, such as nutech.nl (great launch recently!) and new media (especially mobile and video).  But we want to bring an additional richness to innovation at NU.nl, using not only the talents of our own people but engaging with outside talent too.  For that reason, and building on the early success that we have had with our series of innovation accelerators, we decided to run an open innovation accelerator on news called NU LAB, sponsored by Sander Stallinga and in cooperation with the excellent Joris van Heukelom at MakerLab.

NU LAB

NU-LAB-blogWe have accepted more than 150 participants into the program. It’s a highly diverse group that includes not only journalists and Sanoma enthusiasts, but also professionals from advertising agencies and government ministries and students (about a quarter of the total).  We even have a 16 year old school pupil on board.  It’s really great to see this rich diversity of talent and enthusiasm!

The program started with a kick-off, and is followed by a series of webinars for inspiration, training, and guidance on the assignments. Through a competitive process we expect to select the top three ideas that we will send to bootcamp at the end of January – the winning idea owners will form a team with an interaction designer, designer and developer to build a working prototype of their concept.   The winner will receive a prize of € 10.000 and the chance that their idea will become part of the superbrand that is NU.nl.

Quick pitch and value proposition

In the first webinar, Gert-Jaap Hoekman (Editor-in-Chief of NU.nl) explained the three domains that form the scope of this open accelerator: the distribution, production and bundling of content.  Brechtje de Leij (Senior Product Manager Mobile), explained how we work.  Our American guest Mark Briggs (author of Entrepreneurial Journalism and Journalism 2.0) gave an inspiring session on innovation in journalism.  And Joris van Heukelom (Partner at MakerStreet) talked about design thinking.  Participants also got their first assignment: develop the quick pitch and describe the value proposition for your idea.

Customer validation

In the second webinar Mark Vos (Editor Social and UGC at NU.nl) talked about the role of the user in the creation, aggregation and selection of news, and Jerry Vermanen (data journalist at NU.nl) about data journalism.  Joris van Heukelom went further with lean product development.  Participants got their second assignment: customer validation.  This is so important on the journey of discovery!  This is the assignment that the participants are currently working on.

Inspiration

I’ve been browsing the content of the platform this afternoon and always find this insightful and inspiring.  I love to see the ideas and am curious about the person behind the idea. I always wonder: why is this important to them?  And I cannot deny my competitive streak which generally guides me to the leader boards for ideas and engagement – they are quite powerful in steering perception.

Respect!

So, we still have a couple of months to go, but I would like to express my heartfelt support for open innovation at NU.nl and for the participants who have joined us on this journey.  Respect to you for looking ahead and making something new!

Enabling commerce through open innovation: the #CommerceAccelerator

New launch

This week we launched the #CommerceAccelerator in Helsinki and Amsterdam. This is the third accelerator so far in the series. We began in the Autumn last year with the #MobileAccelerator and continued in the Spring with the #ContentAccelerator.

Intrapreneur Nikky Hofland at the Helsinki launch

Intrapreneur Nikky Hofland at the Helsinki launch

I notice the Finnish contingent of the team in particular has become increasingly creative in finding launch venues. The first round was in the auditorium at Sanoma House. The second round was at Adams and was the first time I have given a corporate presentation under a disco ball. This round was at cultural arena “Gloria” where Finnish Eurovision Song Contest 2006 winner “Lordi” has recorded some music video – I will spare you the footage of that here. We are considering video and vlogging as the focus for the fourth accelerator – I am already wondering with some trepidation where we will meet for that kick-off.

New business and new skills

We have two big goals for our Innovation Accelerators: i) to build new business lines and ii) to learn new skills.  As a direct result of the first two accelerators we have established six new start-ups and by the end of this accelerator almost 450 of our most talented employees will have learned new skills about Lean Innovation.  Learning by doing.

This accelerator has two new aspects.

Enabling commerce

Firstly, we are focusing on developing concepts that can “enable commerce” – “content” is not necessarily central to our thinking in this accelerator.  How can we use our ability to reach, inspire and engage consumers to enable commerce?

Open innovation

Secondly, we have opened up the process.  We are joined on this journey by approximately 70 students from 6 European universities, along with a handful of participants from a leading e-commerce player and leading telecoms operator.  We are looking to the outside world and want to bring in new talent and ideas.

Positive spirit

I felt excited at the kick-offs– the same way I used to feel when starting a new academic year – a time of new beginnings and new opportunities.  Program leaders Lassi Kurkijärvi (@lassi, Director of Innovation & Development at Sanoma) and Joris van Heukelom (@jorisheuk, Partner at Makerstreet) were in good form and inspiring as always.  What I especially liked at both kick-offs was the positive and optimistic spirit of the participants. I can sense the ambition of my colleagues, an eagerness to learn and to develop something new.  It felt good.

Good luck!

So, after the kick-offs we will be moving on to the ideation and learning experience and then taking the best 5 ideas to bootcamp to build functional prototypes. I am extremely curious to see what this accelerator brings us.  Good luck to all participants and respect to you for going for it!