Author: Jim Rothey, Partner + CTO
1. In your opinion, what makes a company innovative?
Innovative companies challenge orthodox ideas to improve upon the status quo. They observe current trends and seek to address unspoken needs or gaps by making them more effective, or less expensive and time consuming. They take advantage of their competencies, assets, and resources and value feedback and ideas from all level of their organization.
2. What makes your company innovative?
Whereoware hires smart, skilled employees and encourages ideas from all levels. Our teams are diverse: email marketing specialists, website developers, mobile app developers, account managers, sales reps, and creative designers. They work hands-on with clients across industries, so we’re able to pool ideas, talk through interesting challenges, and leverage unique perspectives.
For example, Whereoware supported the gift and home industry for the last sixteen years and watched sales reps struggling for a more efficient way to master sales meetings on the road.
At the time, sales reps sold predominantly using print catalogs that became out-of-date the moment they were printed. During sales meetings, reps showed customers items from the catalog and then would call the manufacturer or look online to make sure those items were in stock and available.
We developed Spotlight to solve these manual processes and make selling more efficient and enjoyable. Reps no longer need to lug catalogs to sales meetings. Reps can show products from the app, and it’s always up-to-date – no more calling to see whether an item is in stock.
We also talked with sales reps across companies and our own account managers, reps, and developers to gather ideas on how status quo selling could be enhanced. During these dialogues, we realized reps were missing customer insights and instead, had to approach each meeting almost as if it was a cold call. With Spotlight, reps get 360-degree access to customers’ online and offline activity. They can jump right into an effective meeting by browsing past orders, customer complaints, and the kinds of products the customer browsed in the past. More productive sales meetings enhance the shopping experience both for the customer and the sales rep.
3. What or who are some innovative companies or people that inspire you and your team?
We of course look to the standard technology companies like Apple and Google for proven practices and new approaches. We also take inspiration from other innovative companies, such as Airbnb and Uber, who are flipping industries on their head.
4. What are some publications, print or digital, you read daily or have read that help you stay on top of your game?
These could be books, magazine, blogs, e-newsletters, etc.Currently, I spend a lot of time reading Flipboard and Apple News on my iPad Pro. These services do a great job aggregating news sources around my topics of interest, and the Pro form factor works great for me.
5. What advice would you give to up-and-coming leaders striving to be innovative in today’s business environment?
I advise up-and-coming leaders to hire smart, skilled people and give them the freedom to try new approaches or technologies and take tempered risks. Caution in business is important, but you can’t disrupt the status quo if you don’t take risks. Remove silos whenever possible and encourage open communication from all levels of the organization. Your next “big” idea might just come from your new intern fresh out of college – if you make him or her comfortable enough to speak up.
Check out what’s happening at Whereoware here: www.whereoware.com/blog/