Scott Emmons is the Head of Digital Innovation Lab for the Neiman Marcus Group. Scott built the Neiman Marcus Group Innovation Lab, also known as iLab, and is responsible for leading the organization in evaluating, designing, testing and piloting cutting-edge technologies and applications for luxury retail.
Scott is working on BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) initiatives, as well as Wi-Fi/Local and Wide Area Network infrastructures, mobility, and digital signage initiatives. These innovation projects include the amazing MemoMi Memory Mirror, beautiful 4K touch table look-books, beacon enabled holiday passes, intelligent mobile phone charging stations and gorgeous digital directories for Bergdorf Goodman.
Here are the highlights of my conversation with our guest:
Getting to know Scott --- what usually consumes his day and how a Harley Davison and a pool fills the little free time he has left from time to time.
From starting out as a contractor, to becoming an associate and then an Enterprise Architect, Scott shares the path that led him to head the Digital Innovation Lab at Neiman Marcus.
Scott shares how exposure, being a nerd, his love of having a good problem and being an early adapter had inspired him to be in field of innovation.
The biggest challenge he is seeing in the retail industry: understanding what the next generation of customer looks like and their preferences and trying to build something for them.
Giving the sales associates iPhones and how this huge change of strategy impacted their business as communications improved between associate and customer transforming interactions. Scott also discusses why they opted for iOS rather than Android.
Scott’s definition of an omni-channel approach which is basically, not thinking about individual channels but where the customer is at and where the customer wants to be, and then providing that channel.
The channels where the biggest of their revenues come from and the pain points which Scott feels that the industry is having challenges catching up to.
Innovation is important and Scott emphasizes how equally important it is to collaborate with his associates across the business and get out of the store to see what the customer is doing versus staying in the lab to provide the solution for the real customer problems.
His advice for those who are thinking of moving to digital adoption and the initial actions that they should focus their early efforts on.
Why Scott thinks that augment and virtual reality is the most realistic next hot thing and how it integrates and ties in the field of retail.
The processes they go through, from funneling of idea to requesting funding for full roll out, in implementing innovative experiments and projects and the metrics associated for them to gauge ROI.
Scott’s projected breakthroughs and the things he thinks have promising potentials.
Rapid Fire Questions:
Would you put more emphasis on the idea or the execution? How would you weigh each of them and why?
I would not put more emphasis on either but the idea has to be good to be worth doing and the execution has to be flawless. It has to be a 50/50 weight for this to work in my world.
What is your biggest learning lesson on your journey so far?
What the customer wants is what’s the most important thing and the only way you are going to learn that is to get out in the stores and interact with the customers and associates.
What is your favorite business book?
Innovation Engine by Jatin Desai
What is your favorite mobile app resource?
What is your favorite app and why?
What is the coolest thing that you are working on right now that you want everyone to know about?
You’ll know about it in six weeks or so.