Coca-Cola bids to be less ‘secretive’

Coca-Cola is looking to launch more collaborative product innovation projects with consumers and its franchisees and bottlers as part of its aspirations to become a less “secretive” company.


The company is looking to solve some of its business challenges by crowdsourcing ideas from its customers in order to innovate as it looks to achieve its goal of doubling the size of its business by 2020.

Anthony Newstead, Coca-Cola’s global director of innovation, IT and interactive, told delegates at Dreamforce 2012 in San Francisco that the company is looking to turn the founding principles of its secret formula into a mantra of a “sharing formula” to be more open across the business.

He admitted that there has been conflict involved in “flattening the hierarchy” and sharing information more freely but that it has, and will, help the company towards its “aggressive” 2020 goal.

He added: “[We are going] through a phase of risk awareness rather than risk aversion [when it comes to innovation]. You need to have a good way to communicate for that to work and email is not it: social collaboration is the way to go. You have to move away from a command control top down secretive model to a more collaborative one.”

To this end, Coca-Cola has started using employee social networking tool Chatter to share ideas globally across the business. To ensure mass adoption, Coca-Cola’s innovation and IT team engaged with top executives first who would then encourage their relevant departments to use the tool.

Speaking to Marketing Week after the session, Newstead explained the types of collaborative projects with customers could be anything from developing ways to better communicate with its bottlers to opening up some of the technology it builds and codes to the public to help develop new digital ideas.

He added: “We have quite a secretive culture – we have a secret formula – but we are looking at ways to connect more people with the company…[as part of our] aspiration to make our walls a little bit more translucent.”

One recent example of a consumer crowdsourcing project is the company’s recently launched Facebook app that asks its 50 million strong fanbase to suggest ideas to make the world a happier place. The winning idea will be funded by the company and launched in 2013.

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