How L.L. Bean Can Innovate with Big Data + Blockchain
How do companies innovate with big data? It starts with human-centered design thinking.
As the mom of a toddler, I spend most of my waking hours covered in a mixture of applesauce, milk, and general baby-themed liquids.
So when I heard that a company was making clothes that would send data about the wearers of said clothes to the Ethereum blockchain, I thought “I really don’t want my jacket broadcasting that there are 31 unidentified stains on my sleeve.”
But it turns out, there are some clever ways to innovate with big data going on here. Coming from the 100-year-old clothing company L.L. Bean.
L.L. Bean Teams Up with Tech Companies to Innovate
L.L. Bean has teamed up with a variety of tech companies so that they can track data on how their garments are really used on an ongoing basis. Like how often each item is worn when it’s washed, the temperature outside when worn, and more. Over the years, it will also show if an older garment is being used again, indicating a return to fashion.
Their key partner is Loomia, who makes flexible circuitry so the clothes can be fitted with sensors. Customers then have to agree to release their data to the blockchain, along with some basic information about their demographics like age, gender, and so on. The blockchain will be set up to keep this information anonymous.
And I know what you’re thinking; “Why would any customer want to share their data?”
The Bean and Big Data
Well, it will probably work like a reward card system, whereby agreeing to give your usage data to the brand, you get free shipping or discounts. We’ve seen this work many times. So, as long as the interface is really easy to use, people will happily release their data for free stuff…we like free stuff!
Right now, this data will be mainly used to innovate with big data and drive product improvements. By seeing what’s being worn, how, where and by who, L.L. Bean will be able to leverage this information into the next round of clothing they create.
They will be able to see what types of usage reduce the lifespan or quality of the product. And then, either try to add protection against this use or just create a new line for that type of customer.
So, expect L.L. Bean to have a new line of “sweaters that your dog can sleep on” and “non-wash pizza repellent shirts”. One can only dream.
The Future of the Clothing Industry: Wearable Technology
However, this type of long-term data analysis is just the beginning. Smart clothing has a lot more applications than this.
If your jacket can sense the weather, then there’s no reason that it can’t react to it in some way too. And, unlike some internet of things devices, if you lose connection, it’s not going to stop working as a jacket. This can all act as a bonus feature, rather than something integral to the functioning of the garment.
Because you don’t want people getting soaked in the rain just because they lost WiFi, right?
There are many more ways to innovate with big data beyond this.
If you want to learn more about how you can leverage big data to inspire new products and services, then we’ll be diving deeper into this innovative approach in our next video.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I just need to find the remote control for my shirt.
How Can Big Data Drive Innovation?
Today, we’re going to see how to innovate with big data, especially when it’s combined with a certain way of thinking.
Because data on its own is just a raw material. It’s like having a ton of flour – it has value, but it’s worth so much more when you turn it into a cake. Yummmmm, cake.
So, what can you bake from big data? The answer lies in the additional ingredient, design thinking.
Big Data + Design Thinking
Design thinking, born from the folks at international design firm IDEO, is a method of meeting people’s needs and desires in a technologically feasible and strategically viable way.
You start by looking at what the customer needs. Rather than SOLELY focusing on profit margins and bottom line. You don’t ignore these important factors, of course, that’s just bad business sense. But in design thinking, you start with the customer needs and build from there.
Big data, vs. survey data, is the information about people’s actual behavior rather than what they believe their behavior is. This opens up the opportunity for real, groundbreaking innovation. Applied in the right way, this can unlock the real human-centered problem.
For L.L. Bean, collecting information like how often a jacket is worn, washed, or the temperature of the climate is the little data breadcrumbs that we leave behind as we live our lives.
The company can then follow the breadcrumbs to understand more about our behaviors. This is more telling than what you fill out in a survey or post on social media. It’s beyond the “edited” response and rooted in real life activities.
But trying to innovate with big data is not just for big brands.
How to Use Big Data In Your Own Work
You might not have an army of customers wearing your brand’s sci-fi pants, sending data to a cloud, but there are ways you can collect vital information.
Even if you aren’t an engineer or well-versed in mining big data, you can still practice using big data with design thinking.
The most obvious place to start is using website data from Google Analytics to objectively show the most important behavior patterns of users on a website. Once you understand what people are doing, you can work out why, and use this to find innovative solutions.
If you don’t have your own website, don’t despair, Google has a demo google analytics account available to everyone.
And even though it’s a demo, the data comes from the real Google Merchandise Store, which sells Google-branded merch. It’s real numbers and real customer behaviors!
You can learn to apply your favorite algorithm, find valuable behavior insights, and all about the customer’s needs through big data.
Big Data + Human-Centered Design
Big data must be treated as the asset, not the byproduct. And anyone can find value in it if they learn how to look. When big data is paired with the human-centered design, that’s where we uncover real innovation.
If you have any thoughts or questions about big data or design thinking then just drop us a comment below.
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