Back in early February, I was fortunate to attend the Chicago Auto Show, and even more fortunate to conduct a brief interview with Nick Pudar, whose official title is Vice President Planning & Business Development at OnStar, but is truly focused on the Connected Consumer in which GM is investing. General Motors, one of the oldest companies in America, is focused on customer experience innovation in ways I found fascinating.
Ever pay attention to car commercials? They all seem to say one thing: ‘Look at me! I’m fast! I’m cool!’ And yet most of us who actually drive cars don’t spend too much time admiring how we look on the outside of the car. Yes, the outside is important. But the experience of driving is changing. We are connected all the time, and we don’t expect any differently when we’re driving. So GM and other car companies are investing in ways to keep the driver connected safely. They’re doing this by focusing on the experience of driving. What do drivers want and need? Nick mentioned how they anticipate parents requesting apps that track their teen drivers and show metrics and reporting. They don’t have this app yet and GM doesn’t plan on building it. What they’re doing instead is asking the developer community to help them innovate. They are expecting others to come up with the ideas and apps that will make their customers happy.
Think about that. This isn’t your grandfather’s GM. It takes guts to allow others into the process, and yet they are going about it with guidelines, testing and an open mind.
Customers are going to vote with their use….that’s a very dynamic, real-time feedback process. – Nick Pudar
What can any company learn from this approach on innovation?
- Invite others into the process. If you are developing apps but aren’t an app shop, let the pros in to help.
- Respond to customer usage. The way customers respond to actually using and loving your innovations should guide you.
- Consider the entire design experience. How does the customer actually experience your product? How does this fit into the rest of their life?
For a portion of our discussion, check out this video. (We did our best to boost the audio, but the Chicago Auto Show is not the quietest of backgrounds.)