Sample Case Study – Blue Aardvark

This case study is about a real project I was directly involved in. Company names and other details have been changed.

Blue Aardvark’s GrooveWeb cuts Developer-Months by 24X for Jameson-Thomas

Customer Background

Jameson-Thomas, founded in 1905, is the world’s largest and best-loved purveyor of bubblegum. They sell to all ages, with operations worldwide, and have been in Japan since 1902. They have 450 employees at headquarters in Tokyo, and over 2000 throughout Japan.

The Challenge

Jameson-Thomas faces the constant, crucial challenge of maintaining brand loyalty among its end users. Studies by the Bubblegum Industry Association show that, once a person starts chewing bubble gum, they are likely, but not certain, to stay loyal to their first brand. A loyal chewer becomes a nearly certain stream of revenue. This is vital to Jameson-Thomas marketers and the company.

The advent of web-capable phones in Japan became one more channel that fast-moving consumer goods companies quickly adopted to reach existing and potential chewers.

Jameson-Thomas had produced one earlier mobile loyalty site and promotion. They wanted to do a second one, and to greatly reduce costs.

The technology of the earlier project was fine, and supported some interaction with chewers. But, it was expensive. To send consistent content across three mobile phone networks and two generations of phones required four teams, each with four website and content developers. These teams worked for six months, for a total of 96 man-months. This was expensive, and justifying the cost meant a high volume of increased or retained sales was needed. Jameson-Thomas sought a partner with technology that could deliver an interactive website faster and with fewer developers.

The three major Japanese carriers (Docomo, Softbank, and KDDI) had separate, partially incompatible versions of HTML for phones. Also, each carrier served two generations (2.5G and 3G) of phones, and the versions of HTML that would work varied between generations.

<Graphic: Grid showing three carriers, two generations of technology, and many screen size>

This complexity made sending content to as many phones as possible very expensive. Instead of designing one version of a site, and building it once, a design had to be built in up to six visually similar but technologically different versions. Costs were increased by the need to manage changes to the design during development.

Long development times made changes to the content delivered via phones lag changes to content delivered over other media. Development and maintenance of sites incurred dramatic new costs.

The Journey

The earlier project was a partial success. But it had long development times, and the need for many, large, costly teams. This led Jameson-Thomas to seek other methods for the next project. They thought about using in-house teams; a few global firms; and, Blue Aardvark.

Blue Aardvark explained its very different approach to software and hardware infrastructure for mobile sites, based on their their platform, GrooveWeb. Jameson-Thomas asked Blue Aardvark to prove that they could build a test site showing critical functionality.

Blue Ardvark created a GrooveWeb test site in one fourth the time given by Jameson-Thomas. And, the site had all required functionality.

Blue Aardvark and GrooveWeb were selected.

The Solution

Blue Aardvark’s GrooveWeb is an integrated content management and transaction platform. It can be used to build simple websites, as well as applications. It is platform-agnostic – it can send content to any browser. And, it is language-agnostic – it can send content in many languages.

With GrooveWeb the different needs of different phones and web browsers are recorded and stored. Then, GrooveWeb can take these differences into account, and send a consistent site to different phones and browsers. Coders no longer need to pay attention to the differences.

This lets designers and developers to work on imagery (photos and emoji), text (brand messaging or calls to action), and interaction (“Join Here!” buttons). They can trust GrooveWeb to send a consistent version to all devices.

Implementation

Seiichi Ozawa, the senior Jameson-Thomas IT manager for web-based innovations, tested GrooveWeb. Based on these tests, he chose Blue Aardvark. Blue Aardvark provided software and initial consulting for a project to create a new, interactive, promotional website.

The promotion let members of chewers.jp (a domain owned by Jameson-Thomas) earn points. Points could be earned by buying Squiggly brand gum from Hello convenience stores in Kyushu. These points could be traded in for branded items, such as key-chains or tennis rackets.

Work went smoothly. One team of developers, rather than four, was set up. The team had only two members, rather than four. The team quickly took to GrooveWeb, and ended up using GrooveWeb on even more solutions than initially planned.

Work was completed in one month.

<Graphic: Stick figures in groups of teams, z-dimension showing time, comparing:

  • four teams of four (groups of stick figures) for six months (receding into distance)

  • one team of two for two months>

One unexpected challenge was posed by the speed of making changes using GrooveWeb. This new speed meant that changes that used to take a full day could be done in minutes. Other business processes had to be tightened. A second challenge was that ring-tones could be more easily downloaded, and many more were. This required a hurried change to a contract with a copyright agency.

Results and Benefits Achieved

The website went live on time and within budget.

GrooveWeb allows design decisions and content to be captured once, managed centrally, and converted automatically. This eliminates need for manual conversions. It meant that in Jameson-Thomas’ case, one content repository was needed, instead of six. And, it ended the need for reconciliation after updates. GrooveWeb removes the need for expensive consultants to do mundane tasks. Finally, it prevents creeping differences between what is seen on different phones and web browsers.

<Graphic: Diagram showing difference between

  • – maintaining content in three repositories (show a spelling error), and

  • – maintaining content in one repository and then transforming it as appropriate to different phones>

Successes

The project was a great success, and was credited with billions of yen of incremental sales.

The number of teams was reduced from four to one. No separate teams were required to make versions of the site for different carriers.

Team size shrank from four members to two. GrooveWeb took care of differences between 2.5G and 3G cell-phones.

Since only one team existed, there was no need for checking and adjusting after changes. Working with GrooveWeb was faster. The project was completed in two months, which was one third the time of the previous project.

Points for Sidebar

  • Project completed on time

  • Project within budget

  • GrooveWeb led to:

    • Eightfold lower headcount,

    • Threefold faster project completion and “time to message”,

    • Six-fold decrease in version management,

    • Successful support of promotion, and

    • Over JPY 5 billion in new revenue.

Pull-out quotes

“GrooveWeb was exactly what I wanted, and, unexpectedly, in one piece!”

“Blue Aardvark pushed GrooveWeb to the limit, and it paid off in spades.”