How We Helped Microsoft Conceptualize a New Industry Convergence
At a glance
Microsoft asked Spur Reply to help conceptualize a new industry intersection between retail and healthcare to provide a more connected and personalized care ecosystem. The intersection also helps retailers — such as pharmacies and grocery stores — deliver care outside of traditional healthcare settings.
We facilitated discussions and working sessions among subject matter experts (SMEs) and stakeholders to help Microsoft strategize and ideate its position within the future of retail and health. Our consultants then brought together the different ideas to create a powerful narrative and standard bill of materials (BOM) that communicates the value of Microsoft’s solutions in retail and health — with an audience of customers and internal field sellers.
Customer and market planning
Brand and product messaging
Content strategy and development
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Retail and healthcare converge
Innovating new solutions and technology capabilities that support a unique convergence, Microsoft has advanced the new industry intersection of retail and healthcare.
While the convergence is still in the early stages, the tech leader’s end goal for the program is a more connected and personalized care ecosystem that helps retailers — such as pharmacies and grocery stores — deliver care outside of traditional healthcare settings.
Microsoft is currently developing technology and solutions that will allow providers to connect with patients through virtual capabilities —such as telehealth — creating more access for consumers regardless of physical location. Additionally, the tech leader will allow providers to better personalize care through data sharing (with patient consent) of health-related consumer data from smart devices. Not only will the availability of primary care services outside of traditional healthcare settings provide more convenience for consumers, but it will also make healthcare more accessible, individualized, and cost-effective to people living in underserved communities.
The opportunity within two industries
Our client at Microsoft, who was personally invested in assessing the viability of an intersection between retail and healthcare, approached Spur Reply with a specific budget and asked if we could:
- help ideate and define how the convergence could be introduced to customers and Microsoft teams internally and
- maximize the value of his budget to create Microsoft’s initial messaging and point-of-view (POV) documentation on the industry intersection.
The project posed a unique challenge because the merging of retail and healthcare is a relatively new concept, and Microsoft had not previously introduced the concept to external audiences. We were asked to help bring our client’s vision of industry convergence to life by defining and communicating what ultimately became Microsoft’s, ‘Retail + Health’ construct.
Defining and communicating Retail + Health
To help Microsoft achieve its goals, we provided support in three specific ways. Our consultants worked with our client to:
Define a strategic approach for communicating the new industry intersection
Facilitate conversations among SMEs and stakeholders to define Retail + Health
Create a standard BOM, which included internal and customer-facing materials that communicated the concept and value of Retail + Health
Defining a strategic approach: We first developed a content strategy to communicate the value of the industry intersection between retail and healthcare. Creating the strategy required us to align with Microsoft on three aspects:
Determining how to build Retail + Health’s POV and initial messaging
Communicating the value proposition of Retail + Health to customers
Communicating the value proposition of Retail + Health to field sellers, thus preparing them to lead conversations on the industry convergence to prospective clients
Facilitating conversations: After determining what to build, we then defined Microsoft’s Retail + Health concept, which was ultimately the largest and most complex task throughout the engagement. We began the process of defining the industry convergence by facilitating discussions among our client, SMEs, and other stakeholders. Over the course of a few weeks, we brainstormed and provided unique ideas about what the convergence could mean to Microsoft and its customers. Our consultants encouraged everyone involved to think with open minds and create ideas outside of the status quo.
After defining Retail + Health, we worked to determine the construct’s POV. We brought together many different ideas related to the customer and partner experience. In addition, we helped identify effective ways to communicate the value of Retail + Health. For example, healthcare and retail are two separate industries, they communicate with two different languages and to two different end-users and audiences. While healthcare serves patients and retailers serve consumers, our team needed to help Microsoft identify who Retail + Health serves. To find the answer, we facilitated strategic conversations about the taxonomy Microsoft should use when communicating to its audience, ensuring end messaging would resonate.
Once we finished facilitating the initial meetings for the POV, we started to refine and prioritize the ideas. The stakeholder conversations were essential as they ultimately led to the creation of a customer POV deck, which was later useful for creating the project’s remaining assets. Within the customer POV deck, we use visual examples of how Retail + Health capabilities and solutions could apply to real-life scenarios and use cases. To bring the scenarios to life, we developed a visual customer journey. Through storytelling, we demonstrated how the bridge between retail and healthcare could improve the average consumer’s healthcare and wellness journey.
Creating a standard BOM: Our final task was to create a standard BOM that covered field and customer needs. Our customer-facing deliverables included:
A one-pager based on the POV deck
An aspirational whitepaper
A blog post
Our internal deliverables included:
A competitive battle card for field sellers
An internal email template
The biggest challenge throughout the project was gauging the competitive landscape. Since the retail and health convergence is a relatively new concept, there was limited public-facing information about other initiatives. We assessed competitors of Microsoft by their positions individually within the retail and healthcare sectors. Our team also examined existing relationships between Microsoft’s competitors and retailers from a technology perspective. Our consultants leveraged our internal expertise and familiarity with Microsoft’s work in industry-specific clouds and capabilities.
“The whole Spur team was very knowledgeable and professional,” said Neil Jordan, WW GM of Retail + Health Innovation at Microsoft. “Since the team entered the project with a well-rounded understanding of Microsoft’s current and previous industry work, they were able to facilitate meaningful conversations on an abstract idea, then take those ideas to form tangible resources and materials that would help us moving forward.”
Furthermore, our consultants took enough initiative that our client felt confident in our ability to fully drive the project’s development and trusted in our capability to build out his vision without letting anything fall through the cracks.
Productive communication produces powerful content
With this project, our consultants successfully took an abstract idea and turned it into something real. Despite an ambiguous task at the beginning, we worked with a specific budget to bring together diverse ideas, apply our own industry knowledge across Microsoft, and set our client up for future success.
By remaining detail-oriented and staying in tune with our client and his team’s needs, our team collaborated and exchanged ideas in a productive way. We challenged and tested out ideas, which assured our client and his team that we were fully invested in creating meaningful content.
“This was certainly the best content co-creating experience I have had in my time here at Microsoft,” Jordan said.
As a result of our collaboration, Microsoft’s team received the resources it needed to take the next step of converging two different industry verticals. The conversations we facilitated among the five SMEs and stakeholders resulted in a unified way to communicate the Retail + Health offering to Microsoft’s customers.
Additionally, the customer-facing and internal deliverables we helped create allowed the technology company to effectively showcase the value and concept of Retail + Health to its target audience and internal sales teams.
The whole Spur team was very knowledgeable and professional. Since the team entered the project with a well-rounded understanding of Microsoft's current and previous industry work, they were able to facilitate meaningful conversations on an abstract idea, then take those ideas to form tangible resources and materials that would help us moving forward. This was certainly the best content co-creating experience I have had in my time here at Microsoft.