How a retail technology company was born from a unique consumer brand that provides personalized fashion for brides
When people discuss the application economy, their focus is often or nearly always on the front-end – what happens on mobile devices. That makes sense. Compelling graphical presentation, simplicity, location awareness and sensing – a lot of the magic happens closest to the consumer, as has a lot of recent innovation. But focusing only on those systems means missing some of the most exciting things that are driving the application economy and potentially missing at least some of the opportunities it makes possible.
The fact that we can leverage and combine existing resources that reside on mainframe, distributed, and cloud environments to deliver compelling customer experiences is fantastic. Though many have not yet adopted these approaches, I believe they are well understood. As a result they are no longer very exciting. But the good news for technology professionals is that this is just the tip of the iceberg.
For example, Indira is a retail technology company born from a unique consumer brand, Indira Collection, which provides personalized fashion and décor for brides and their wedding parties. The experience begins with an application that puts their customers in a virtual episode of “Say Yes to the Dress”, enabling them to create custom gowns, dresses and accessories. (And without the reality show style drama.) The experience is engaging and impressive – but what might be even more exciting to a technologist is what happens behind the scenes.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Indira CEO Carrie Mantha, who explained that Indira’s technology leverages the customer’s webcam to scan their body and create a virtual 3D model that enables them to create amazing, custom-fit gowns. But that is only the beginning.
The material is automatically dyed, then cut using Indira’s innovative technology that increases cutting speed and reduces errors and waste that are chronic with specific types of material. It is then automatically sewn while being ‘watched’ by technology that applies sophisticated analytics to control the quality of the final product. (Nobody wants dangling threads or a wardrobe malfunction on their wedding day.)
Consider what this means in its entirety. Indira’s customers have a compelling, engaging experience. They submit their order and a custom-fit garment arrives. They have no idea what happened behind the scenes, but because of Mantha’s approach to technology they receive a quality product very quickly. Indira’s application of technology throughout the entire process enables them to provide their customers with a couture quality product that competes in price with off-the-rack competitors. They have also used technology to drive up to 40 percent of costs out of their supply chain through increased material production speeds.
If you are still doubting Marc Andreessen’s assertion that, “software is eating the world,” or that all businesses are becoming technology businesses, perhaps this example will give you cause to reconsider. When we spoke, Mantha summed it up perfectly: “We didn’t set out to build a tech company, we set out to solve a problem and do things better. Technology just happened to be the way to do that.”
The application economy is upon us. It is a more exciting time than ever to be a technologist, so go ahead. Have a peek behind the curtain. Then go create some magic of your own. Your businesses, and your customers, will be grateful.