[UPDATED] San Francisco has been a hotbed for creativity and innovative thinking, for things digital and beyond. We of course refer to ‘the Valley’ as the Digital Fulcrum, which often means points south (Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, Menlo Park), because of its treasure trove of funding, startups, University research, and technology juggernauts (Apple, HP, Cisco and the like). Since the first wave of internet innovation, San Francisco itself emerged as a counter-balance of sorts to the rest of Silicon Valley, a bit more focused on digital media innovation. San Francisco has shifted into higher gear over the past few years with the next wave of digital innovation and is now the home of major innovators such as Zynga and Twitter, Organic, and Yammer. The city by the bay has always been home to industry-disrupting innovators, and adds this latest batch to the likes of Williams-Sonoma, Gap, Levi’s and Charles Schwab.
This innovative spirit is one of the reasons that I’m excited to announce that San Francisco will be home to Microsoft’s first “Solution Studio,” at 475 Brannan Street located on the edge of South Park in SOMA, just a few blocks away from AT&T Park. Due to open in early December, Solution Studio 415 will be an 18,000 square foot space that will bring together Microsoft design-led thinkers and technologists to co-create innovative solutions in partnership with our customers.
We believe that we do our best work when we take a partnership approach, so the format and approach we take in Solution Studio 415 will be to collaborate with customers on creative, innovative holistic marketing solutions that put consumer needs first. Our ultimate goal is to bring the same kind of design-led thinking that birthed the Kinect and Arc Touch Mouseto the table, to help marketers engage in rich and relevant ways with their customers, and solve some of the toughest marketing challenges along the way.
The physical space will be designed to enable Microsoft teams to work in small groups, side-by-side with customers, to leverage research, insights and product/platform releases to co-create solutions for brands to connect with consumers – for today and the future. The co-ideation sessions will start with the specific customer’s business challenge (note: not just a marketing challenge). From there we apply our Consumer Decision Journey framework and deep insights to frame experiences that matter to people, and drive value for marketers. After that, our design teams will work with customers on creative ways for the brands to best engage with their specific consumer targets at the right moment and on the right screen.
To date, we have had multiple discussions with a number of top brands in retail, consumer packaged goods and automobile manufactures to evaluate potential projects to start once the doors open at Solution Studio 415. I look forward to being able to share those names, and the fruits of those discussions, with you soon.
Solution Studio 415 is the first of many design-led collaborative studios that we hope to launch in major centers of commerce globally. Stay tuned for further updates on our new Solution Studios. Until then, join me in welcoming our newest addition to Microsoft, Solution Studio 415.
- Rick Chavez
[UPDATE SEP 18] I am thrilled to see the excitement and response to Studio 415. A few key points I’d like to reinforce to help make our intentions clear:
- Microsoft plans to work with our key agency partners as part of the co-creation model. I have seen some media references to Studio 415 ‘bypassing’ agencies in the work we do. To the contrary – we expect to deepen relationships with partners as part of leaning into big problems that marketers are trying to solve with Studio 415. The ultimate goal is to use Studio 415 as a focusing device for Microsoft innovation and capabilities, so we can do more for clients and with greater effectiveness with key agency (and other) partners. In fact, all our current conversations with clients about engaging with us include agencies as part of the process.
- As a corollary, Studio 415 – and other Studios we might have in future in other major cities – are not a move to ‘be’ a marketing agency, or operate as an agency. That is not the Microsoft business model. Again, we are a design & technology delivery vehicle to channel Microsoft innovation on solving marketers’ problems.
As we get a bit further down the road, we’ll have more specifics to share about the kind of work we’ll do, partners we’ll work with.