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One interesting conversation I had today at South X Southwest in Austin was with Moshe Tamssot, Kraft’s VP of New Services. Yes, it might seem odd that Kraft was a presence at this conference for web-geek software developers and hipster interactive designers.
Formerly of American Express and G.E., Tamssot was hired about a year and a half ago to help Kraft “transform” itself by adding revenue-generating, Web-based services to its portfolio of food offerings. He presented today on a panel on small groups within large corporations that churn out fresh ideas quickly and cheaply—a good innovation tactic for the recession.
So far, Tamssot’s division has created the iFood Assistant, a 99-cent iPhone app which launched at the end of 2008. It helps people plan meals on the go—using Kraft products of course. Tamssot says that Kraft will soon promote partners’s products as well, turning the app into a tool that he hopes will help “cement relationships with consumers” and also provide “an inexpensive way to help grow the company. Services like these have higher margins than new [food] products” that undergo much testing and tasting in research labs.
Tamssot’s division also works on online sales sites for kitchen goods and recipe sites on kraft.com, as well as South Beach Diet Delivered and other direct-to-consumer services. He says that his job at Kraft is to help morph the company by following the lead of tech companies IBM and Hewlett-Packard, which successfully have made the transition away from hardware and more toward service-oriented (and software) strategies to evolve.
If you are interested in more from SXSW, please check out my tweets at http://twitter.com/rjmac
What comes next? The Bloomberg Businessweek Innovation and Design blog chronicles new tools for creativity and collaboration, innovation case studies in both the corporate and social sectors, and the new ideas that have the power to change the way things have always been done.