You gotta love the boldness and ambition of athletic-apparel maker Under Armour: “To inspire you with performance solutions you never knew you needed and can’t imagine living without.”
In a highly competitive space with rapidly shifting go-to-market dynamics, Under Armour is focusing on hard-core fitness consumers who not only demand high-performance products but often expect to have a voice in the development of those products.
So it was great to speak with Under Armour senior VP of Global IT TJ Graven at SAP’s recent Sapphire event to get his views on innovation, mass-personalization, the surging demand for co-creation of products and services, and the ongoing war for talent in a high-velocity, high-change marketplace.
And since Under Armour is a showcase customer for not only SAP but also Qualtrics, we chatted about what TJ expects to see now that Qualtrics is a part of SAP.
You can catch the entire conversation with TJ on our YouTube channel. Here are a few of my highlights.
Under Armour’s end-to-end commitment to innovation.
“Innovation’s not just about new product. It can be about a business process. It can about running an operation in a new way. It’s creative ideas to campaigns and how we market our products. It’s tailoring relevant messaging to our consumer that allows them to connect to us digitally in a meaningful way. And so it’s really in our DNA and it’s part of our history and 21 years of trying to be innovative and really driving at that consumer in a way that adds value to their life.”
What leaders across Under Armour expect from TJ’s IT organization.
“They expect us to be a thought partner. Technology changes so fast, but so do operations—and technology’s impact on the way we work and the way we live and the way we transact our business is something that you can’t expect a single person to see. And so I think that’s really the role of the technology team is to help them think about how they design the roadmaps.”
Using data to create a single and action-oriented view of the consumer.
“We’ve done a lot of things around single view of the consumer where we bring together commercial information with consumer running information or health and fitness data that they share with us and they opt in to share with us. And it’s unique views. To this point it’s been analytical insights. It allows us to help our marketers and help our teams learn about the consumer in a meaningful way.”
On the emerging trend of mass personalization.
“We’re starting to see the opportunity and we’re really diving into personalization at scale and investing in these platforms that allow us to create a genuine experience with you that’s unique because of something you’ve done and just add a little bit more value to that interaction. The goal is to earn more time with you so we can do a better job for you.” (For more on the vast and highly disruptive potential of mass personalization, please check out my exclusive video interview with SAP CEO Bill McDermott.)
The potential of SAP and Qualtrics to unify the demand chain and supply chain.
“This whole X and O—this opportunity to connect the consumer experience with operations—is a huge unlock, and I can see it in a lot of places around just that consumer experience with those friction points that you have with a brand and a business that affect you long term. If the business understands that, we can really understand what that is and actually act on it and do things differently. It’s a big thing for us, so we’re pretty excited.”
Disclosure: at the time of this writing, SAP was a client of Evans Strategic Communications LLC.
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