Andrew Cron

Future Forward recap: How to maximize ROI from emerging technology

CPG marketing practitioners and industry experts recently gathered at the Path to Purchase Institute’s Future Forward conference in New Orleans, La., to explore the latest trends and evolutions in the retail industry. Speaker Andrew Cron, SVP, chief scientist and head of 84.51° Labs, shared insights on how to maximize ROI from emerging technology efficiently and effectively.

An investor's approach

In today's rapidly evolving world, emerging technologies hold immense potential for retail and other industries. However, deploying these technologies can be a daunting task, often involving high costs, time constraints and inherent risks. The question that arises is: How can organizations ensure a reproducible return on investment from emerging technology? Borrowing principles from venture capital investing enables businesses to “intentionally manage risk, create a diverse portfolio of investments and improve your odds of success,” Cron said. Applying an investor’s approach and mindset to innovation includes:

Intentionally managing risk

Just like venture capitalists, organizations need to approach emerging technology with a risk management mindset. Acknowledge that innovation comes with uncertainty and adopt strategies to mitigate potential risks. Embrace a fail-fast mentality, where projects that are not showing promise can be paused, failed, or revisited. By doing so, resources can be reallocated to more promising opportunities.

Thinking like an investor

Treat your innovation initiatives like a seasoned portfolio manager. Build a diverse portfolio of investments in emerging technologies, rather than relying on a single bet. By diversifying your investments, you spread the risk and increase the chances of finding a breakthrough solution that generates significant ROI.

Creating a culture of innovation

Foster a culture of innovation across your entire organization. Encourage the formation of diverse teams comprising individuals from various functions, backgrounds and cultures. Such teams bring different perspectives, insights and approaches to problem-solving, leading to more robust and creative solutions. Additionally, establish cross-functional development teams that enable progressive bets on emerging technologies. These teams facilitate collaboration and knowledge sharing, accelerating the innovation process.

Having an exit strategy

Just as venture capitalists have exit strategies for their investments, organizations should clarify early and often with innovation teams and stakeholders the exit goals for their projects. Avoid the temptation to hold on to projects indefinitely. Instead, focus on identifying the right time to transition from the innovation phase to execution. By doing so, you ensure that your innovation teams do not become burdened with managing mature products, allowing them to focus on new and disruptive ideas.

Maximize innovation ROI

By adopting an investor's approach to emerging technology, organizations can navigate the complexities and uncertainties associated with deploying new capabilities. Intentional risk management, a diverse portfolio of investments, a culture of innovation, and well-defined exit strategies contribute to maximizing ROI. Embracing this mindset empowers businesses to unlock the full potential of emerging technology, driving growth, competitiveness, and success in today's dynamic business landscape.

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