January, 2015 | Mays Impacts

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Over the course of three days in late January, thought leaders from around the world bridged the gap between academia and industry at the 2015 Thought Leadership Conference at Mays Business School.

During the course of three days in late January, thought leaders from around the world bridged the gap between academia and industry at the 2015 Thought Leadership Conference at Mays Business School. During several intense think-tank discussions, participants tackled topics relating to mobile marketing for the opportunity to be published in a special issue of the Journal of Interactive Marketing, the premier journal on direct, digital and interactive marketing.

The importance of being responsive

Shawn Morrissey, vice president for mobile engineering at Macy’s, began the conference by justifying the need for conversations about the mobile space. A former student at Texas A&M University, Morrissey earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Mays.

Morrissey shared an example of Macy’s ability to capture data on consumer behavior throughout the day and across mobile channels, working from the Macy’s Innovation Lab in Silicon Valley. Customers begin their morning on their smartphones, and then shift to a desktop while at work. “We see a little uptick around 9 in the morning for online sales, a similar uptick at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, a switch back over to their phones, and then back to their tablets at night,” he said.
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However, because of the hyper movement across mobile channels, companies must pay close attention and embrace change. Macy’s is constantly testing new services to better engage consumers connected to smart phones, even when ROI is unclear. Morrissey said Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren encourages such innovation and investment so that Macy’s is seen as a leader rather than a follower in delivering an omni-channel experience.

Companies must also keep up with the changing sizes of desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones year after year and design a user interface that is friendly – especially now that Macy’s is equipping their associates with technology on the floor so as not to disrupt the in-store experience.

Before smartphones, shoppers came to the store to seek styling advice and product recommendation. Now, a peer relationship has evolved, removing the assistance needed from a sales associate. The “well-armed consumer,” as Morrissey identified, instead comes highly informed – possibly even more than the associate – about products. Often, he or she only needs a purchase to be fulfilled, which can be done through mobile payment.

It’s an app world

Steve Holland, chief technology and digital officer for 7-Eleven, served as Thursday’s morning keynote speaker. Providing an overview of the chain, Holland shared that 7-Eleven currently operates with more than 54,000 stores in 16 countries and opens a new store every 2.2 hours.

With the tremendous growth, the company is also working to expand its product assortment beyond convenient CPG products, such as beverages and snacks, into fresh and healthy choices.

Holland also described the 7-Eleven customer as value driven and time conscious. Therefore, his team is constantly assessing their Current Situation Analysis (CSA) to be able to create a better emotional relationship with each customer and reach each one differently, especially through the 7-Eleven digital app.

Downloadable in the App Store and available with Google Play, the 7-Eleven app is a portal for savings, recommendations, upcoming events and exclusive deals and an “idea hub” where user are empowered to suggest how to make the company and their user experience better. The app is also adaptive to the weather and the user’s location, and will only display a hot drink on a cold day or a cold drink on a warm day. As Holland asserted, “apps rule only if they are relevant and contextual.” In the meantime, he said, 7-Eleven is only focusing their efforts on winning with mobile strategy. Development of the tablet applications will come second.

Similar to Morrissey’s presentation the previous day, Holland also mentioned the importance of the path to purchase. Products shown online and in-store should be a collaborative effort between marketing, IT, app development and inventory to showcase digital relevancy.

Profit is king and whereas most would identify impressions with success, Holland and his team prefer to measure the “yield,” to determine the dollars, reach, engagement, conversion and profit from across all efforts.

As he closed, Holland shared the future of 7-Eleven with the company taking the iconic Slurpee into new territory at Six Flags theme parks and Cinemark theatres, as well as a self-practiced word of advice: “Fail fast, fail early and fail cheap.”

Creating a lasting impact

A goal of the Thought Leadership Conference is to identify key future research topics.

During the final morning of the conference, team leaders from each group – Mobile Advertising, Mobile Channels and Supply Chain, Mobile Shopper Marketing, Mobile Promotions and Mobile Services, Gaming and Global issues – shared the framework for their papers going forward.

Several big ideas that emerged from presentations and discussion included:

• Information privacy and the digital footprint
• SMACIT (social, mobile, analytics, cloud, Internet of things)
• Integration of on/off-line pricing strategy
• Transaction integration and virtual currency
• Behavioral targeting
• Millennials
• Gamification

With 20 minutes to summarize and 10 minutes of Q&A, the accelerated-learning format allowed for each group to receive critical feedback that will be beneficial for continuing the conversation away from campus.

During the next several months, teams will continue to work together to refine their research for publication in 2016.

In attendance at this year’s conference were:

Academic participants

Baohong Sun (Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business), Charles Hofacker (Florida State University), Dhruv Grewal (Babson College), Joseph Pancras (University of Connecticut), Kelli Hollinger (Texas A&M University), Ko de Ruyter (Maastricht University), Mark Houston (Texas A&M University), Martin Spann (Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich), Michelle Andrews (Temple University), Mirella Kleijnen (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam), Nicholas Lurie (University of Connecticut), Peter Zubcsek (University of Florida), Puneet Manchanda (University of Michigan), Ram Janakiraman (Texas A&M University), Sam Hui (University of Houston), Subodha Kumar (Texas A&M University), Suresh Ramanathan (Texas A&M University), Venky Shankar (Texas A&M University), Yakov Bart (INSEAD)

Industry practitioners

Jeff Donaldson (SVP, GameStop Technology Institute), Bharti Mishra (Vice President, CITI GROUP), Jody Goehring (Head of Business Development, RetailMeNot), Lance Thornswood (Senior Director, Omni channel Digital Platform, JCPenney), Michelle Skupin (Sr. Manager, B2B Communications, RetailMeNot), Shawn Morrissey (VP, Mobile Engineering, Macy’s), Steve Holland (CTO/CDO, 7-Eleven), Wendi McGowan-Ellis (VP, Strategy, Brierley+Partners)

Ross Rizley (Research Director, Marketing Science Institute)

The 2015 Thought Leadership Conference was graciously supported by the Marketing Science Institute, the American Marketing Association, Mays Business School, Center for Retailing Studies (CRS), the Office of the Dean, Center for International Business Studies (CIBS) and the Department of Marketing.

Marketing Professor Venkatesh Shankar served as the chair of the conference.

ABOUT MAYS BUSINESS SCHOOL
Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,600 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students in accounting, finance, management, management information systems, marketing and supply chain management. Mays consistently ranks among the top public business schools in the country for its undergraduate and MBA programs, and for faculty research. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.

Categories: Centers

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Texas A&M University participated in the first Silicon Valley Bank Trek, which strives to challenge the next generation of innovators to create a unique learning opportunity with tech industry leaders.

Over a three-day trek, students from nine universities traveled from Silicon Valley to San Francisco, including two students from Texas A&M. Texas A&M’s two delegates are Sarah Knop, a junior finance and business honors double major, and Wesley Vance, a senior computer science major.

On the trek, 18 undergraduate and graduate students visited locations that represent innovation in Southern California, such as Stanford’s d.school, StartX, the offices of Andreessen Horowitz, BIRST and Mattermark, co-working facility WeWork Golden Gate and Silicon Valley Bank’s offices on Sand Hill Road.
Students were led by Trek Guides, a “who’s who” of influential investors and entrepreneurs in the tech industry, including Ben Horowitz, Jason Mendelson and Danielle Morrill, and the members of the Silicon Valley Bank team. These guides provided first-hand advice on subjects from getting started in the tech industry to best practices on pitching your idea to investors to bouncing back after failure.

In addition to receiving knowledge and advice, the students were able to form valuable relationships with other enterprising students on the Trek and the top-level entrepreneurs and investors. Knop says, “I am fully confident that these relationships, along with the wisdom and knowledge gained while in the Valley, will prove instrumental as I progress throughout my career as an entrepreneur.”

Knop serves as a student ambassador on the Startup Aggieland Seed Fund Committee, which evaluates startup company profiles and pitches to determine funds for expansion and development. Her experience on the Trek taught her this: “Entrepreneurs, especially in technology, must exhibit the ability to observe, analyze, improve, and iterate in a dynamic environment to identify opportunities, execute strategies, and capitalize on their success.”

The event was designed to inspire entrepreneurship in up-and-coming students, and the student innovators were challenged to make improvements on big world problems. “This was the beauty of the trek, raising the bar of what we think we can accomplish,” Vance said. “Whatever problem you want to solve, it’s not out of reach, it’s just a matter of devoting yourself to do it.”

Vance has participated in programs through the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship, including 3 Day Startup, and has developed a small business renting GoPro action cameras online.
The additional 16 participating students represented Cornell University, Harvard University, Ohio State University, University of California – Berkeley, University of Illinois, University of Michigan, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and The Wharton School.

ABOUT MAYS BUSINESS SCHOOL
Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,600 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students in accounting, finance, management, management information systems, marketing and supply chain management. Mays consistently ranks among the top public business schools in the country for its undergraduate and MBA programs, and for faculty research. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.

Categories: Centers

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When 32 Mays Business Honors students visited Atlanta, they learned first-hand how several top companies carry out their mission statements. Students toured encompassed the corporate headquarters of Coca-Cola, Chick-fil-A, CNN and UPS, as well as attended Cirque du Soleil show and explored of downtown Atlanta.

Kris Morley, director of the Business Honors program, and academic advisor Eric Newman accompanied the group. Junior Megan Plate planned and organized the Nov. 5-9 trip.

Sophomore Daniel Hulse wrote these observations of the trip: “Huge but quaint. Busy yet quiet. This is the Atlanta paradox. Atlanta is a huge city home to numerous large corporations, the busiest airport in the world, and 5.5 million people contained within its metropolis. Yet I never felt crowded walking around the streets of the storied city with the Business Honors group that visited CNN, World of Coke, UPS and Chick-Fil-A.”

At Coke, the students learned of the brand’s association with happiness. Their facilities can produce 7,000 bottles of Coca-Cola every minute and for a company that is known worldwide, efficiency and quality are essential.

“Coke is literally all over the world, and they associate their brand with happiness, which is both brilliant marketing and a pleasant reminder that businesses exist because they offer products that make people’s lives better,” Hulse said.

The CNN behind-the-scenes tour included a question-and-answer session with Paul Crum, VP of News Operations. Crum spoke of the company’s desire for their influence not to be limited to viewers of television, but to also reach social media and smartphone users.

“It is devotion to information, loyalty to the public and commitment to remaining the best in its field,” senior Taylor Arndt said.

Next was a visit to the UPS headquarters, which junior Tyler Dawson said has a lobby resembling a hotel’s. Sophomore Matthew Korioth said he didn’t understand the UPS commercials claiming, “We love logistics!” until he visited the headquarters. “It was amazing to see how much the team was dedicated to efficiency and logistics, and the theme was consistent among everyone who spoke,” he said. “UPS is definitely a company that understands its goals and strengths.”

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Then Chick-Fil-A, which Dawson said “focuses on a lot more than just chicken,” encouraged students to go above and beyond in the workplace and in their daily lives.
“I learned that in the future, when I start to look for a job, the company culture is very important to me. I want to work for a business that I not only respect their product or service, but I respect the culture they promote internally,” freshman Loryn Setterquist said.

Junior Kati Hewitt also discovered it is the type of company she hopes to work for one day. It is one that is “comprised of passionate employees, innovation and the courage and confidence to be closed on Sunday.”

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From their trip students gained valuable insight into the inner workings of Atlanta’s top corporations, built lasting friendships and discovered that learning does not have to happen in a classroom. They also encourage other Business Honor students to attend similar trips in the future. Sophomore Mason Hairston said, “Years from now, when friends and family ask me about my college experiences, I am sure this trip will be one of the first I will tell.”

ABOUT MAYS BUSINESS SCHOOL

Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,600 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students in accounting, finance, management, management information systems, marketing and supply chain management. Mays consistently ranks among the top public business schools in the country for its undergraduate and MBA programs, and for faculty research. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.

Categories: Mays Business