How tech firms succeed in the digital world
Innovation is the key to success in a fast-moving disruptive digital world, former Google UK and Ireland managing director Dan Cobley said.
Cobley noted three techniques which technology companies like Google used to identify and follow innovation that works.
"Seek to solve customer pain, seek that which should exist and 10x moon shots are the three techniques," Cobley said at the RDPetro conference dedicated to research and development.
Elaborating on each technique, he said: "If you can see your customers struggling with something and you can solve that, then that is innovation worth pursuing. I co-founded ClearScore four years ago in the fintech space. We saw from Google search queries that in the UK, credit scores of people were growing very rapidly. The companies that were supplying that need were failing as there was no mobile product. We built a company to present credit scores back to customers for free in a beautiful mobile environment. We made our money by matching those customers to lenders who could serve them better."
"More than two years after launch, we had six million customers and sold the business to Experian for nearly $400 million. We solved customer pain and created some real value."
He noted how Google eased customer pain by realising that lot of users were frustrated by having to type long search queries, particularly in language with complex character sets.
"Google came up with auto-complete. It was done by looking back at history of billions of previous searches; you can predict what people are likely to finish their queries with. This is a great insight into the questions people are asking. We knew people's queries on particular thing will drive further queries on the topic more often, thereby falling to more advertisers and creating more revenue for Google," he pointed out as to how Google made billions of dollars more in market capitalisation.
The speaker said that if anyone feels there is a need for a particular solution to any problem, then the person should jump in and invent.
"Seek that which should exist. In mid-2000 Google Maps was growing around the world with a team of engineers in India working to help improve map of London, Paris, New York and Tokyo but there wasn't any good map of cities they lived. Lalitesh Katragadda, who was chief engineer of the Indian office then, said that should exist and built it. That tool allowed users to upload their own suggestions as to what the map should be like and a clever engine at the back to validate where multiple people had suggested the same thing."
"Five years or so after it was released into the wild, the proportion of the Earth's surface that was accurately mapped and available online went from 15 per cent to 95 per cent. And all this because somebody said that should exist," he said, noting how any innovative idea is just a thought away.
Talking about situations when it is not clear what customer's pain is or what should exist, then he said there is a need to go a leap further than that and bring something new into the innovation realm. "Google calls it '10x moon shots' or '10x thinking'. Huge problems for millions, radical solution which sounds a bit crazy and a breakthrough in technology - if you can find a sweet spot in there, then you can create something which is '10x moon shots'."
He noted Google's driverless car as a solution to road accidents, or Gmail having unlimited storage capacity, etc, as breakthroughs.
"How is your innovation going to create an opportunity in the future?" he signed off.