Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Number 35 in Wired UK Britain Top 100 Digital Power Brokers

The messages had been coming in for several days now - and today there was an avalanche of them so I knew it must have arrived in the shops. So I succumbed and bought a copy.

"It" is the May 2010 edition of Wired UK - and "I" appear to be Number 35 in Wired's first annual survey of Britain's Top 100 Digital Power Brokers.

I should say straight away that "I" should be "us". Tesco and is packed with people doing innovation. I've been in R&D for some years now and so how come suddenly outsiders are taking notice now?

The answer is simple: Tesco had been doing innovation on the quiet creating and implementing amazing new ideas but not saying anything about them.

Tesco is a brand that is 'admired but not loved' - yet behind our corporate machine image is a whole raft of people totally energised by a desire to try really hard for our customers. Why? Because we enjoy listening to customers and what they like/dislike about the Tesco experience and strive to improve the service as a result - not forgetting that we are customers too.
  • We build what customers would like to use to have an enjoyable experience at Tesco - for example, find products easily whether in-store or online.
  • We improve technology in store because we go and work as staff in stores at least twice a year and get annoyed by tasks that technology could improve or simplify.
  • We instill the best security practices because we don't want our own personal details seen or our own payment details compromised.
So one day I decided we should shout about this stuff and not keep quiet; have the boldness / madness to wear innovation on our sleeves in public - and be totally, breathtakingly honest, complete with documentation of failures and more.

So this blog was born, and with it our successes and failures on the path to bring customers great new products and services.

It's worked, too! Birth of our API was a resounding news story, our TJAM Innovation Day was covered by the media, and Apple rejecting the first edition of our Tesco Finder app made it even to non-IT magazine The Grocer. Only this week, Computing magazine’s front page spoke about the launch of Paypal’s API by referring to ours (complete with a picture of a delivery van). So outsiders now do think of us as innovative. Yes!

One final point: I can do a lot of things quickly in R&D to 'prove the point' and even take projects to trial with customers and staff. But the reason I can do this - and a reason 'I' managed to get to number 35 in the Wired UK chart is because of colleagues around our business who build reliable, scalable production systems. Colleagues who have the grace to let me stand on their shoulders.


  1. Well done Tesco, seems you guys are always getting grief so nice to see one of the UK's top companies is getting a fair crack of the whip. congrats all round.

  2. Congratulations!

    Is the API still available for new developers to register and use? - if so how and where is this possible - thanks

    OR are Tesco still open to new developers pitching novel ideas in order to gain access - if so how would this be done?

    Thank you for any responses and I hope you and your colleagues continue your innovative ways.

  3. Hey Nick, well done - I bet Tesco are like many big corporates who are wary of employees writing blogs. Yes many people are involved in Tesco innovation but it has taken your courage (not to mention negotiation skills) to bring a public face to this work, so take the Wired compliment as it was intended, for you yourself to enjoy.


As this blog grows in readership - and because it carries the Tesco brand - I have had to become more careful about the sort of comments that are acceptable. The good news is that I'm a champion of free speech so please be as praising or as critical as you wish! The only comments I DON'T allow through are:

1. Comments which criticise an individual other than myself, or are critical of an organisation other than Tesco. This is simply because they cannot defend themselves so is unfair and possibly libellous. Comments about some aspect of Tesco being better/worse than another equivalent organisation are allowed as long as you start by saying "in my personal opinion.." or "I think that...". ... followed by a "...because.." and some reasoned argument.

2. Comments which are totally unrelated to the context of the original article. If I have written about a mobile app and you start complaining about the price of potatoes then your comment isn't going stay for long!

3. Advertising / web links / spam.

4. Insulting / obscene messages.

Ok, rules done - now it's your go: