More Customization, Please!

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Posted on Mar 9, 2018

How Lean Principles and Agile Methodologies Helped Motorola Deliver a New Customer Experience with Moto Maker

In the 1970s, Dr. Martin Cooper, a general manager at Motorola, filed a patent for a “portable duplex radio telephone system,” which would go on to become the precursor to the smartphone that’s likely in your hand right now. Amid the flood of new technological innovations on the market, it’s sometimes easy to forget how far we’ve come—and how companies such as Motorola helped us get there.  
From car radios in the 1930s to smart devices such as the Moto M, Motorola rightly deserves a place in history for consistently delivering cutting-edge technology. And when you witness tech companies like this realize success for decades on end—despite the ups and downs—it gives you pause. “Just how do companies continue to innovate in a fast-changing global marketplace?” The key is having the right mindset and applying the right transformation model—such as Lean and Agile.

Lean, Agile, and the Moto Maker platform

To illustrate, let’s look at Motorola’s Moto Maker platform. It wasn’t too long ago when Motorola decided to offer customers the ability to personalize their mobile devices. The company recognized that smartphones have become an extension of people’s personal expression and style. In response, the Motorola team felt that by giving people more creative control over their device, it could be in a better position to deliver value to customers’ whose needs and tastes are constantly evolving. This principle of focusing on delivering value to the customer is the bedrock of Lean, and one that gave rise to the Moto Maker platform.

Following a successful U.S. launch in 2013, Motorola quickly recognized the value in expanding the customization experience to other products and global markets. However, the challenge was to develop a more robust platform that worked as a Software-as-a-Service (Saas) via APIs. This would allow the platform to be scaled to meet the needs of Motorola’s e-commerce partners in key markets. And most importantly, Motorola needed to integrate Moto Maker with one of its most important partners—Verizon.

Still more challenges lay ahead—namely, to dramatically reduce the cost of sales by migrating from the legacy e-commerce platform to a fully open source, microservices-based solution. The objectives here were twofold; To complete this new implementation without disrupting the business roadmap, and to support the expansion of Motorola's portfolio to other markets and sales partners.

Taking the customization experience on the road

If you’ve never tried Moto Maker, the experience is like having your own personalized shopping consultation, but online. Visitors have access to a comprehensive customization engine that focuses on customer experience. The platform also allows customers to select, change and experiment with several technical and visual elements of their future device, such as front and back colors, memory, cases and engraving. A recent enhancement now enables consumers to customize accessories—or “mods”—in the newer Motorola smartphone models. Finally, once these high-profile and personalized features are selected, your new device is delivered to customers in just a few days. To help Motorola with these enhancements, CI&T used front-end and back-end technologies such as Drupal CMS and APIs based on microservices. Further, the development team didn’t have to rely exclusively on legacy systems. This was Agile in action.

Following a successful launch, the next step was to integrate the platform with a new open source-based e-commerce solution. Through an organized approach to testing and implementation, this task was accomplished in less than eight months, which fulfilled an aggressive timeline and scope requirements. For this stage of the project, CI&T fully leveraged Drupal technology to deliver the entire front-end along with integration points with the newly developed microservices-based architecture.

Making a good thing even better

The new e-commerce platform was completed in July 2016, after 18 months of project development. The end result was increased sales, higher customer engagement, and cost reduction by combining Lean principles, Agile methods, and cloud-based, open source solutions. Not only did the program focus on rebuilding the user experience and commerce layer, it also revamped the entire order processing back-end components. These components are responsible for processing users' orders, packaging configuration details for the factories, making payments, taking inventory and handling all enterprise resource planning (ERP) software integration. And if that wasn’t enough, it also managed APIs for new partners’ integrations.

Meanwhile, with everything operating on a global scale, markets such as the U.S., Brazil, China, Mexico, France, the UK and Germany are realizing the end-to-end value of this new platform. The end result: The Moto Maker initiative brought a new mindset to the market when it comes to personalization, customer experiences, and consumers in search of new devices.