Before I go into my rant, I want to point out a success concept:
You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But you can as an old dog like Walgreens, teach new dogs (app developers) a new trick. Walgreens is good at allowing customers to conveniently print photos locally. And this week they offered an SDK that allows mobile developers (iPhone and Android) to “Print to Walgreens”, no different from sharing to Facebook. Plus, Walgreens is also offering a revenue share on every order a partner app creates. (Developers, here’s all the info: developer.walgreens.com ) Walgreens for 20 years has been good at conveniently printing your photos. This SDK doesn’t stray from that strategy, rather it extends it to the developer community. But this post isn’t just about the on strategy steps Walgreens is taking in the space, rather its about a bigger business strategy that seems to be overlooked more and more in the age of the internet.
Ideas without discipline:
The “big companies”, you know those companies that have been established as “successful”, continue to ignore what they’re good at. Most big/successful companies have a central strategy that drives their success, even in specific business areas they have strategies that drive the profit engine. But in the age of the internet they keep making out of character choses that make these industry leaders look like copy cat players. I mean seriously, read any of the “industry” press outlets and you’ll see tons of companies from cars to chocolate to retail singing their own praises as they release apps that are at best the tertiary players in their spaces.
While I’d love to just blame the agency world for pitching cool stuff rather than strategic ideas, in this case it’s not their fault. They’re just doing what makes them money, serving the client as the client wants to be served. Which means it’s on the big companies, its on them in a few different ways.
1. The leadership wants to get into the tech space, they want an App Strategy… Ladies and Gentleman, this is NOT a strategy, it is a tactic. The companies using technology in the right ways are building things that support the larger utility proposition.
2. Somebody is looking to make a name for themselves. It’s not a crazy thought that someone would want to launch the next super cool app just to get their name in the press or even just in front of leadership.
3. Ignorance is bliss – sometimes people set upon a task with only a concept of the reward, not the task. They want to be the next Instagram. Guess what, that isn’t going to happen because Instagram already exists, why would there need to be another? (At least do some research and be unique.) The biggest cause of this problem is “Point of View Planning”, when people judge an idea based on if they’d use it. (That’s the user’s privilege not the developer’s.)
At the end of the day, successful businesses are built on, and this is key, a few good ideas and a lot of discipline. So to sum this all up… pretty much every time a CMO demands a “viral video”, an “augmented reality game”, or a “hot iPhone app”… An Angel loses its wings.
The point of this article was to show first in Walgreens a company that in at least this latest SDK is showing itself as staying disciplined in its use of technology, then in a more general sense the lack of discipline by most big companies. There are a number of studies that suggest that CEOs don’t see too much value in there marketing teams… and often times its things like demanding a “viral video” that reinforce that low valuation.
Thanks for listening,