bc q&a

Open Innovation: 5 Questions with Kimberly-Clark's Mayur Gupta

Posted by Dale Buss on December 23, 2014 10:32 AM

Mayur Gupta graphic

Like many other CPG companies, Kimberly-Clark is trying to become more agile, especially when it comes to identifying, evaluating and spurring innovation in areas ranging from new products to digital marketing. But the parent of brands including Kleenex and Huggies has been taking a different—and in some ways more aggressive—tack than others in the industry toward finding these new ideas and putting them to work.

Kimberly-Clark's strategy is embodied in the company's Digital Innovation Lab, which is focusing on open-source innovation with its second annual KChallenge startup challenge at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show 2015. The winner will get the chance to pilot a project with one of K-C's global brands, a roster that also includes Depends, Scott and Kotex.

Originally a platform to showcase the latest high-tech TVs and consumer electronics, CES has broadened to engage other industries, including automotive, healthcare, entertainment and consumer brands, as the digital revolution invades every aspect of life.

brandchannel talked with Mayur Gupta (@inspiremartech on Twitter), the global head of marketing technology and innovation for Kimberly-Clark, about the 2015 KChallenge and how the company is trying to infuse digital innovation across its brands in partnership with entrepreneurs, developers and the VC community.Continue reading...


CES 2015: BMW Demos Sensor-Filled i3 That Self-Parks Via Smartwatch

Posted by Sheila Shayon on December 18, 2014 05:44 PM

BMW parking assistant watch

Trouble parking? BMW can help with that. The brand plans to display its sensor-filled BMW i3 at CES 2015 this January, and will demo the model's driverless parking system that's operated by a smartwatch known as the Remote Valet Parking Assistant. 

The BMW i3 can navigate multi-level parking garages as it “combines information from the laser scanners with the digital site plan of a building," according to the automaker's description. “The system will steer the vehicle independently through the levels, while the driver has already got out of the car. Once the BMW i3 has arrived at the parking space, the vehicle locks itself."

Once the driver is ready to leave, they can call up the car through voice command, at which point the app "calculates the exact time until the driver arrives at the car park and starts up the BMW i3 so that it arrives at the car park exit at exactly the right time.”

Also to be demoed at CES: BMW’s new 360-degree collision avoidance platform. “If the vehicle approaches a wall or a column too quickly, the system brakes automatically to prevent the threat of collision,” the company said in a press release.Continue reading...

chew on this

McDonald's Trims Menu, Expands Customization to Turn Around Brand

Posted by Dale Buss on December 11, 2014 05:02 PM

McDonald's Create Your Taste

McDonald's has an new unofficial tagline: "We won't do it all for you."

Starting in January, the quick-serve giant will trim items from its bulging menu, including recession-busting Extra Value Meals, as it starts to roll out "Create Your Taste" do-it-yourself digital kiosks across America so customers can build and order their own burgers and chicken sandwiches.

The slimmed down menu and customization moves come as the chain faces its worst financial slump since 2001, and are a key part of the brand's "Experience of the Future" turnaround plan.Continue reading...

follow the money

American Express Expands in Silicon Valley with Technology Hub

Posted by brandchannel on December 11, 2014 04:04 PM

American Express is expanding its presence in the heart of America's technology corridor.

The financial services company today announced the opening of a new technology hub in Palo Alto, expanding its presence in Silicon Valley, where its venture capital team already had a foothold.

A new tech team is being assembled to operate out of the hub, which will focus on innovations in big data, cloud computing and mobile infrastructure to advance the company's research and development in mobile payments and the future of financial services.

“Technology innovation is driving the company’s ongoing digital transformation, and our team in Silicon Valley is focusing on core capabilities that we expect to be key to our ability to continue to innovate and move our business forward,” stated Marc Gordon, the company's Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer, in a press release

“By developing infrastructure and frameworks to be used broadly across the organization, the team in Palo Alto will play a crucial role in our global business growth and future success.”

The hub is also home to American Express Ventures, AmEx's VC arm, which signed a 10-year deal for the space according to the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

health matters

Walgreens Promotes Digital Health With Wearable Tech, Virtual Doctor Visits

Posted by Dale Buss on December 9, 2014 02:02 PM

Walgreens is trying to lead retailers with its digitized approach to healthcare. America's biggest drugstore chain's strategy now includes a branded wearable fitness monitor, in-store augmented reality product locators and a new telehealth partnership to provide around-the-clock access to physicians via its mobile app.

CVS may have stolen a march on the industry competition in the realm of anti-smoking, but Walgreens has become a trailblazer in setting up a systematic network of apps and other digital itouchpoints to give customers unprecedented control over their health and wellness information, whether they're in or outside the store.

"We're absolutely focused on this area of omnichannel digital health," Adam Pellegrini, vice president of digital health for the Chicago-based chain, recently told a recent conference. "We're working every day on new ideas."Continue reading...

chew on this

Everything's Possible: McDonald's Pins Turnaround on 'Experience of the Future'

Posted by Dale Buss on December 8, 2014 06:04 PM

McDonald's is hoping to regain its past glory with customer-centric tactics, because the brand certainly isn't lovin' its present.

The chain once again posted a monthly decline in comparable-store sales, today reporting a global decrease of 2.2 percent in November sales. Its most dismal performance was in the U.S., with a stunning drop of 4.6 percent in its home market attributed to what McDonald's called "strong competitive activity."

The struggling economy in Europe saw help McDonald's dip 2 percent in that market, while sales plunged by 4 percent in its Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa region.

Understandably, McDonald's CEO Don Thompson didn't dwell on awful monthly performance. In October, explaining a 30 percent decline in McDonald's third-quarter profits, Thompson cited fewer restaurant visits and the continued fallout from its problems with a supplier to the China market.

But increasingly, in an admission that McDonald's woes are more than skin deep, Thompson has been talking about a comprehensive initiative to reshape the company that he's calling the Experience of the Future.Continue reading...

tech innovation

Power to the People: 3D Robotics CEO Anderson Defends Drones

Posted by Sheila Shayon on December 5, 2014 02:09 PM

A magical moment came during the final day of Business Insider’s IGNITION conference in New York this week when Chris Anderson, CEO of 3D Robotics and founder of the DIY Drones community, launched a drone in the auditorium.

A hush fell on the crowd as the object purred and then buzzed to life, rising and circling the room to create a photo mosaic (a dronie, if you will) of the participants via its GoPro camera.

During his talk, the former editor-in-chief of Wired asserted that the drone is so powerful and accessible a tool that it’s already disrupted the aerospace and defense industry and is revolutionizing key social sectors like industrial agriculture, search and rescue and wildlife conservation.Continue reading...

tech innovation

Manulife RED: A Financial Services Brand Explores Wearable Tech—and the Future

Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 2, 2014 03:12 PM

A hot topic in the financial services space is "fintech"—how banks, insurance companies and other finance sector brands can become innovation leaders (and pave the way for future profitability) by investing in their own technology from apps to wearables.

Despite conferences, seminars and all the interest in mobile payments, virtual payments and wearable payments, the majority of financial companies have yet to extend themselves into exploring technology beyond their own networks and IT systems.

That's not the case with Canadian insurance and financial services firm Manulife, which also owns John Hancock in the U.S. and has operations in Asia. The firm is building its digital cred both internally and externally—including to potential employees and partners—by revving up its new RED Lab.Continue reading...

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