SM: Let’s go to a higher level industry state of the union scenario. In your work, would it be fair to say this whole mobile interface of enterprise app layer is largely missing right now?
BS: Yes, but I think it’s also fair to say, if you would ask most CIOs now, they wouldn’t realize that. With many of the situations that we get into, there’s a belief that the infrastructures are already there and the APIs are already there and all you need to do is to connect into them. Very often, there are huge chunks of what they need missing or the APIs aren’t built yet to access it, or they’re trying to redefine, trying to transform the way they’re doing business. They’re going to use some of the innovative capabilities of mobile because they’re transforming the way they do business. So, it changes the APIs or creates a need for a major change to what they’re legacy systems are or do.
That’s a big difference from creating a mobile app that’s just going to take the information that Salesforce gives you and then drops it down into a device. With mobile, we start by trying to think about all the new capabilities, the centristic gyroscopes, the NFC chips, the scanners, how can that change a business process and draw value from it. I would argue that you don’t always get value from it by just having a mobile version of something you can do on a PC. [Think of] other ways that the capabilities of mobile can help you transform a business process. Start there and then design an experience that captures that around the persona of the target audience that you’re attempting to deliver to. Then step back, think through what technology should be deployed to be able to deliver on that. That’s the process that we go through.
Because we start with innovation and business transformation, it often requires more than putting down a snapshot of what they’re doing today. It’s about helping them think through how mobile can transform what they’re doing today into something that’s more impactful.
SM: OK. So, let’s do another couple of use cases. I think what’s helping me is listening to you in the context of concrete customer situations.
BS: OK. Weight Watchers is a customer of ours. We began with them by designing and developing a cross-platform app that simplifies the conversion of food products when people are shopping into Weight Watchers’ point system by using bar code-scanning technology. It was tied into their legacy systems because it captures the food preparers and tracker over time for the individuals. It’s designed to encourage the dieters to make healthier dietary decisions.
SM: How do you do that? Talk to me more about the bar code system. Does the bar code system that the retailer uses to scan, is Weight Watchers in a position to be able to read that bar code system?
BS: Yes, with our app, as you’re strolling through the grocery store, rather than have a notebook with you and taking a look at the real small, fine print that you can never find or read on any of the food products to understand what the dietary components are, you have the developments inside the Weight Watchers app to scan the bar code. It will go to their inventory of foods and tell you immediately how many points per serving that food would have.
SM: No, I got that. I guess it’s my lack of knowledge of how bar codes operate, but are bar codes universal?
BS: Yes. There’s an inventory of macro data around a specific bar code so that you’re able to determine what that product is by reading that bar code.
SM: So, it’s a unique ID that anybody with a bar code reader can scan and learn what food it is and then go into Weight Watchers’ inventory to gauge the calorie impact of that food on the person’s diet?
BS: Right. You need to be able to have that library of what those bar codes mean, and then associated with that library is the information that you want your consumers to know about that product, then be able to track that and deploy it back to the end user so that he or she can make better food choices.