Its holiday iPhone app shows how innovating for customers is a collaborative effort under the leadership of CIO Stephen Gillett, InformationWeek's IT Chief of the Year.
Starbucks' new holiday season smartphone app shows how the lines between marketing and technology teams are blurring. And it shows that technology teams must be ready to move at speeds much faster than are required for the typical IT project.
Alexandra Wheeler, the VP in charge of Starbucks' global digital marketing group, has been blurring those lines since joining the company in 2006. One of her first big projects was My Starbucks Idea, which uses a Salesforce.com online platform to solicit ideas from customers. Her group also guides the company's Facebook strategy.
In July Wheeler's team came up with an idea to do an augmented reality app for the holiday season. By pointing an iPhone or Android smartphone camera at one of the company's red holiday cups, a character on the phone would appear to ski, run, or move in some way on the cup, bridging the digital and physical worlds.
But the cups were already done, so there couldn't be anything on them to trigger the app, like a QR code. The company had never done anything like augmented reality. And the deadline was absolute--the app had to go live in mid-November.
Wheeler brought the idea to Starbucks' Digital Ventures group, which is in charge of overall mobile strategy, and it worked through the platform and policy questions raised by the app, which the company ...