This week, GDR’s CEO Kate Ancketill presented at the 4th Global DIY Summit, held in Stockholm. The world’s leading event for retailers and manufacturers from the home improvement and garden centre industry, the event’s theme this year was “A Disruptive World – New Trends in Home Improvement”. One interesting development in this disruptive world is the Internet of Things, the subject of Kate’s presentation.
Below are Kate’s impressions of the first day’s speakers:
The CEO of Kingfisher, Veronique Laury, has hired a Chief Customer Officer whose role is to constantly refresh the huge corporation’s knowledge of its customer in every country. Over the last ten years we’ve seen more and more commitment to this executive role as a key component in company strategy. Before long it will be hard to imagine how any major consumer-facing business can properly succeed without a CCO driving customer experience.
Veronique Laury also said the boss is not always right, which I found refreshing, coming from a CEO. She explained that whoever has the facts has the right to direct the future, and she advocated for research and analytics at a strategic level. In short, she was saying that those with the best data on what customers really think – and who uses it sensibly – wins.
John Gillam, the CEO of Bunnings Australian DIY chain, which recently bought Homebase in the UK, impressed when he explained that all his permanent staff have shares in the company, and that this often paid for things like their weddings. In a retail sector where staff retention is an issue this must give Bunnings a major advantage. In the UK we can see the power of a sense of ownership in the quality of the John Lewis Partnership’s staff.
Several speakers acknowledged that the US is ahead of Europe in both consumer and retail adoption of the Internet of Things, and I agree. With some notable exceptions, such as John Lewis’s Smart Home Department at the Oxford Circus store, all the best examples of storytelling for the Internet of Things are US-based: Pirch for high-end home appliances, B8ta for new Kickstarter and Indiegogo gadgets, and Target’s Open House. None of these are from the DIY sector. This could mean there’s a good opportunity for the first mover to really embrace the sexiness of these products and what they can do to improve lives.
James Siminoff, founder of Ring, the connected door bell and video camera, explained how his device has halved the number of burglaries in a crime ridden neighbourhood of LA, and the figure came from the police department, not his PR team.
During my presentation on the Connected Home and Connected Retail I asked how many in the audience of 800 had heard of the Amazon Echo, and was surprised at the number who hadn’t. While it may not be available yet in Europe, Echo is a significant indicator of the way big players are thinking about the connected home interface, and the industry needs to know about it. Over three million Echo devices have been sold in the US in the last 18 months, and it’s changing the way consumers interact with technology. Its open API is making Echo the gateway device for controlling connected devices in the home using voice control. The impending launch of the Amazon Dot, the miniaturised version at half the price ($90), will no doubt increase Amazon’s lead in providing the go-to, intuitive and easy interface for complex technology in the home.
My last impression is of the excellent and entertaining presentation by the former military man, now Cass Business School academic, Professor Chris Roebuck about leadership. He said that 25% of an organisation’s output is produced by 5% of its people. Fewer than 30% of people are engaged in their job and 40% want to escape their boss. It’s a wonder anything gets done at all!