When a 'spoiler alert' is actually a good thing

I have a confession to make, I love Game of Thrones.

Despite recording the first episode of season 7 at 2am, I knew I wouldn’t be able to watch it till the evening, so I avoided social media as much as possible. I wanted the surprise. I enjoy the feeling of anticipation and I wasn’t let down. However, what’s true for Game of Thrones, isn’t always true in real life – thank goodness! The key takeaway for us this week at the Virgin StartUp Platform-X accelerator programme with Virgin Trains East Coast was the power of bringing the audience along with you, innovation through iteration and the benefits of test and learn.

As a global software provider working within the Insights and Customer Experience space, we’re not strangers to this concept. Our platform is often used for concept and product development projects, to understand consumers’ reactions to product and services from all around the world. Insights gleaned are then used to make iterations before going to market. Now we are getting to experience first-hand how Virgin Trains uses this approach when innovating with various suppliers. By running trials quickly and gathering feedback on the way, they will be able to see what ideas work well, for both passengers and the business.

It’s a practical approach and it makes sense. It prevents you from going too far down the wrong path and investing too much time, money and energy in the wrong things. So why isn’t this approach always used?

When you have an end goal in sight it can be hard to not push for it immediately. Signs you’ve relied on in the past may make you feel that you’re on the right path. Also, revealing something that you know isn’t perfect can be nerve-racking.

There is balancing act to be had. On the one hand, there are the benefits of moving quickly and trying things out. Being ready to adapt to findings and iterate where needed. Often with unpolished products and services. On the flip side, there is also the need to be patient. To not try and do everything at once. The realisation that many smaller iterations are more likely to lead to a successful outcome, than spending a longer time on perfecting a solution before testing it out.

For Platform-X, we are in good hands. Virgin Trains is the only train operating company with a team dedicated to innovation. So, although Platform-X is new, Virgin Trains are no strangers to innovation. Working together we hope to find the right balance between being able to demonstrate value to the business quickly, provide customers with a great experience and ultimately learn from any trial what iterations to make.

As part of the day there was a presentation from Axel Katalan, CMO of Pointr Labs. He has first-hand experience at working with the Virgin Group. He emphasised the message of balancing both speed at patience. Speed, to get a successful trial up and running with Virgin Trains. Patience, in using that initial trial to test, learn and improve before branching out conversations to the wider Virgin Group. No matter how tempting it was to rush out and try to start new relationships straight away.

I’m personally a fan of surprises, but sometimes a big reveal can fall flat. ‘Spoiler alerts’, for me, are there to preserve entertainment value, but for innovation, being too secretive might be what spoils your idea. By putting innovations out there, gaining feedback and iterating, you stand the best chance of success.

To understand how you can benefit from using video feedback to test and learn contact us.

Read more on video and innovation in our blog:

How to uncover product innovation insights with video analytics

How to fast track innovation with Platform-X

Find out more on our Platform-X experience - Platform-X: Crawl, walk....fly!