Nestlé USA, the consumer packaged goods manufacturer, is taking a nuanced approach to digital innovation as it seeks to deploy the most relevant new technologies in building its brands.

Orchid Bertelsen, the head of digital innovation and transformation at Nestlé USA, discussed this subject on a webinar held by Brand Innovators.

When Bertelsen joined Nestlé from agency mcgarrybowen, “every single brand was doing its own tests-and-learns, which was great”, she said. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: How Nestlé works the tech hype cycle to drive digital innovation.)

“But when you have 40 brands doing their own tests-and-learns with different pilots and different proofs of concept suggested by different agency partners, there’s no common learning agenda. It gets a little bit unwieldly.

“My role is to establish a … strategic approach to emerging technologies like AI, or VR, and say, ‘Hey, as an organization, this is what we're going to focus on. This is how we’re going to think about it. And these are the brands that are going to pilot some of these initiatives.’”

The broader goal for Bertelsen is to “scale the learnings – good or bad – and build new capabilities across the entire [Nestlé] portfolio,” from back-end ops to “improving out front-end consumer-facing experiences.”

One of her primary teaching tools in pursuing this goal is the Gartner Hype Cycle, a graphic representation of technology adoption.

“Whenever a new piece of technology comes onto the scene,” she explained, “tech journalists are all over it and you’ve also got a lot of consulting firms buying paid search terms around it.

“When something is at the peak of the hype cycle, the general public can really imagine the possibilities of what that technology would be. But the reality is that the true use case of the technology is still rather underdeveloped.”

After the excitement of peak potential, Bertelsen continued, the new technology enters what she called “the trough of disillusionment,” when people realize that the actual, everyday usage falls far short of the imagined potential.

The good news: In those early stages, “the reality is that the technology itself is actually still maturing. Brands savvy enough to go through all that work” often are rewarded with a good experience.

Sourced from WARC