All Posts in digital
It's been a great few years... pulling and pushing and progressing the brand towards Order Ahead. No one else does Order Ahead personalization like Sonic -- If you were to build a Order Ahead footprint/concept in today's day and age, you would build a Sonic Drive-In (Elon... seriously, let's talk).
Recap: It's been a pleasure leading the teams working to make this happen. First in 2014-2015, coming on-board at SONIC focusing on Digital Innovation, a small team tasked with creating the future of burgers at SONIC. The first year we built a new POPS experience both UX/UI and backend functionality. We also remade Sonicdrivein.com, folding in a re-imagined Sonicdrivein.com web presence and mobile first menu with our backend CRM -- My SONIC -- enabling users ability to login, track rewards, create favorites, and check gift card balances. In addition to the new site and POPS experience, we also delivered a Proof of Concept (POC) of loyalty. This loyalty experience included separate check-in and reward injection experiences on mobile and POPS -- as well as our first GAP experiences POC (Mobile check-in to POPS).
The learning from this POC allowed us to create the best Order Ahead experience in the QSR industry, an omni-channel experience with personalized check-in and carhop delivery.
The POC also uncovered some needed work on our backend infrastructure, and in 2016, I was given the chance to lead teams down in MarTech (formerly IT). My specific role was to lead technology delivery on the ICE platforms (POPS, Mobile, APIs, Web), a collaborative effort with our Product Team, Enterprise Architecture, and App Services to first migrate our legacy codebase on in-house servers into the cloud, and secondly to retire the monolithic API codebase. We spent the better part of a year strategically breaking apart these core functions into multiple micro services that could feed omni-channel platforms.
With the infrastructure in place, and our new continuous delivery model churning out production releases of new APIs daily, it was time to build. So, in 2017-2018, I was asked to come back to Marketing to lead Product Management of Order Ahead on multiple platforms (POPS, Mobile, POS, Digital Menu Management, and Web), each with their own Product Manager, vision, roadmap, and budget.
Needless to say, it has been a ride and I couldn't be happier at the progression.
Now for some shout outs: First off, the vision of our Sonic leadership to get us in this position to deliver has been phenomenal. Over 5 years in the making, a great problem to solve, with fantastic support from our executive sponsors. And I could not say enough about our teams -- a hard working, focused, collaborative group of developers, project managers, product managers, designers, producers, business analysts, enterprise architects, and operations (in-store technical and operational leadership) working as one team. Truly a great group of individuals, scattered across the US and Brazil!! BIG thanks to each and everyone that had a part in creating this game changer for SONIC!!
Now let's keep adding some features!! #roadmap #productmanagement #productleadership
NewsOK.com: Sonic brings 'order ahead' to Oklahoma City
Payments Journal: Sonic Serves Up Mobile Order And Pay
Nation's Restaraunt News: Sonic banks on order-ahead platform
QSRmagazine.com: Why Sonic is Ready to Change the Convenience Game
Business Insider: Sonic has a new weapon to compete with McDonald's and Chick-fil-A
QSR Magazine: Sonic's Digital Strategy Could be a Game-Changer
Knowledge is a fertilizer,
spread it out,
and teams grow.
Put it in a silo,
add some time,
and it becomes inert.
to one seat,
to one person,
and it is toxic.
More of my thoughts on this subject here -- the tail wags the dog and other incomplete metaphors.
Yesterday, I fell into a conversation about autonomous cars in response to this blog post by Zack Kanter -- How Uber’s Autonomous Cars Will Destroy 10 Million Jobs and Reshape the Economy by 2025.
It's a thought provoking post, with lots of links to sink you deeper into the wormhole of autonomous car dystopia (or utopia... depending on how full your glass is this morning). Not to argue with any of his stats or the conclusion he draws from them; the post did kindle some thoughts on the ethics around autonomous cars, and the risks we assume by stepping into a vehicle with no driver.
— Sam DuRegger (@duregger) November 2, 2015
If a autonomous car is involved in a fatality accident, who takes responsibility? The company, the owner, the software developers?
— Sam DuRegger (@duregger) November 2, 2015
Does an autonomous car value your life or the life of others when an unavoidable accident is ahead? Can an algorithm decide fate?
— Sam DuRegger (@duregger) November 2, 2015
These are a few of the questions spurred by this conversation, as it opens pandoras box regarding AI and altruism. Can the sometimes selfless and irrational acts of man to save countless lives be programed into a machine?
No doubt we have time to answer this question, but my fear is it will be an afterthought, only studied once we have a handful of deaths attributed to autonomous driven cars. The inventors role is not necessarily to write ethic statements that influence law, but it should be on their minds as they write algorithms and code that will direct a 40-ton machine careening down the interstate at 70mph. There is a lot to unpack here, and if you are in law school, it might be something to focus on for your term paper... wait, do law students even have term papers?
Either way... that's my two cents.
April, 2012 -- There was something absurd about today. Ashton Kutcher standing next to me in a cramped office space, brainstorming viral marketing strategies for Dwolla. Him a multimillionaire with a ton of contacts and confidence, me a failed entrepreneur with literally $53.00 in the bank ($100.00 of which was borrowed from my mother-in-law… yep, do the math). As he continued to spout ideas and direction, I couldn't help but chuckle. I was being coached by Ashton to do the same marketing strategies that a week previous had gotten me fired.
It was peculiar and ironic, surfacing so many dichotomous feelings in my soul. I must point out that Ashton was most gracious as he brought out the things we need to be doing, his ideas were clear, succinct and creative. In a word, it was a relief.
I found a him voicing a similar aesthetic in regards viral storytelling. In particular, the importance of organizational values, and how they should be intentionally articulated through the visuals, the fonts, the paper texture, the line width and even the choice of color.
The ironic part of it all, is that I was asked to leave the organization a week previous to Ashton's visit. Being told my skill set did not match the needs of Dwolla, specifically my ideas on storytelling and viral marketing. In my "transition conversation" with management, it was communicated to me, the ideas I proposed didn't fit the values of the company at our current state. Yes, they were good ideas, but they did not fit the budgetary conditions implied by the razor thin revenue margin at Dwolla.
So. This is the story I can now tell… the story of the ironic nature of my life at Dwolla, a place of unbound potential, in a world of restraint.
a brief manifesto of my [current] digital philosophy.
Digital is dead. What has replaced it is something more tangible, more personal. When a disease is localized to a population it is an epidemic, and when it becomes ingrained into the entire system, it is endemic. Using this terminology, the digital age began as a localized permutation of technology, that is, the experience was tied to a particular device and when that device died the digital experience ended. With the internet and the “cloud,” digital experiences have become agnostic to the hardware. When one platform dies the experience lives on in the next device — no longer localized — digital experiences have become endemic to the larger networked system.
Inter-digital. When digital becomes integrated into the system, it becomes apart of more than just platforms and networks — it becomes an appendage of the person who interacts with it.
This personalization of the digital experience is why Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et cetera, are globally popular… and addictive. They have created a place for user generated content to live and breathe —these networks prey on individualization and narcissism to proliferate the constant stream of noise needed to be deemed a viable financial investment. In this reliance on the consumer generated content, we have all heartily joined in on the production. A production that gratifies instantly, as sharing our lives to the masses fulfills a real human need… the desire to be heard and known. An addictive experience, which continues the stream, and feeds the machine.
What is my point?
There is opportunity to bring meaning into the stream and healing to the void, an opportunity to evolve the experience.
Connectedness. One thing strong enough to kill the narcissistic endemic of today’s digital natives is a fuller view of where we are going. A connected perspective on the future and true personal transparency — can lead many through the messy middles of our narcissistic now. What I’m advocating is not more apps and more notifications… but a reigning in of the features.
A simplification of the options.
A reduction in the noise.
The answer is not more but better platforms, smarter networks, and connected databases. In moving our lives to digital, we’ve centered around our own vanity. Once we find temperance in the medium, we will begin to dig our way out of ourself and into the wild world around us.