Internal teams can no longer deliver the results needed to drive the industry forward, says Scott Emmons, departing head of the Neiman Marcus iLab, on the latest episode of the Innovators podcast. Responsible for setting up one of the most established retail innovation programs in the world, Emmons is now bringing his insights and expertise to TheCurrent Global as he joins as the company as the chief technology officer.
He joins at a time where he believes internal labs should be replaced by a more open approach to innovation, where collaboration is key. “You’ve got to build better partnerships that go beyond the four walls of the retailer. If everything happens within those four walls then what you keep doing is the same thing over and over again,” says Emmons, who launched the lab in 2012. “Because you’re not bringing in fresh ideas, you’re not bringing in fresh approaches to retail. You continue to iterate the things which you’re good at.”
During his time at Neiman Marcus, Emmons was responsible for introducing innovative technologies to its stores such as smart mirrors, new fitting room technology, 4K touch table lookbooks and a clienteling tool that better links a customer’s online to offline behavior, while arming associates with the tools to better serve them 1-2-1.
Speaking to CEO Liz Bacelar, Emmons outlines why innovation executives have their hands tied and how innovation is often stalled by internal culture. They also discuss a solution to unlock rapid change in retail.