Smashing Spotlight: Omari Miller, Director, Business Development

Ever wonder what makes Smashing Ideas so smashing? Our people! We sat down with Omari Miller, our new Director of Business Development, to talk shop, what the biggest challenges are that enterprise businesses face today, the dangerous impact on product development when organizations do not utilize external expertise, and why Kansas City is home to the best meal(s) of his life.

 

First off, welcome to Smashing! What attracted you to join the agency?

I was first attracted by the opportunity to help some very cool clients solve really interesting problems and was excited that the collective genius at Smashing provided the resource to do so.  After landing here, I’ve realized how friendly, fun, and engaging everyone is. It’s a real joy to be here.

 

Your career has spanned one-to-one marketing, digital content, and gaming. How have your past positions led to your current role as head of business development at Smashing?

The steel thread here is that I’ve worked for organizations super-focused on leveraging data, technology, and insights on human behavior to build and deploy the most engaging, informative, and compelling user experiences. Smashing represents some type of perfection of these and allows me to manage conversations with organizations looking to move the needle against their goals to innovate and disrupt by allowing our teams to act as extensions of theirs.

 

Many large corporations are building internal digital teams, rather than engage with consulting partners. What is the danger on product development when organizations do not utilize external expertise?

External partners like Smashing represent a tremendous resource – deep domain expertise, diverse thinking, relevant insights from across categories, etc. By limiting themselves to internal resources only, managers deny themselves and their initiatives the benefit of expert, collaborative, and iterative thinking – the kind which taps into the best thinking from both inside a given category, as well as across all markets. I think it’s important to remember that consultancies and agencies like Smashing work best when they supplement (not supplant) internal teams. Better still, the ideal relationship is when we can work a fairly seamless extension of our partners’ teams.

 

As a self-proclaimed foodie, what was the best meal of your life?

It’s really, really hard to name an absolute best. I’m sure it depends on my mood, but I’ll say that growing up in the Kansas City area made me predisposed to loving (needing) great barbecue. I routinely reminisce over the flavors, smells, and mouth feel of food from my two favorite barbeque spots: Fiorella’s Jack Stack and Gates (a well-deserved plug for those institutions of ridiculously-tender and divinely-smoked goodies).

 

People often misconceive the business development function as being interchangeable with sales. We see the role of business development as an important one that identifies areas within organizations in need of digital innovation. How do you define it?

Business development is principally focused on creating long-term value for an organization through establishing productive relationships with markets, customers, and partners. The highest and best work of the BD role is to identify and build relationships that allow the parties to enjoy a maximized mutual benefit. In this way, good business development isn’t about selling a widget to any buyer. Instead, it’s about engineering business relationships that yield optimal returns.

 

How do you zero in on the potential of a digital engagement in a traditionally-based business that does not have a digital arm?

For these types of companies, standing up a digital arm or putting the right relationships in place to find success can be particularly harrowing for the enterprise thinkers. They typically face challenges along a three-part decision journey.

  • In the first phase, they face information challenges (e.g., trouble in finding relevant information, interpreting conflicting information, and knowing when they have enough information)
  • In the second phase, the challenges are associated with people within their organization (e.g., competing priorities, conflicting ideas on the need for change or competing priorities, and possible hidden concerns)
  • In the third phase, after having solved the information and people challenges, decision makers often find challenges in sorting through options (e.g., confusion from late additions to the consideration set, unclear implementation plans, etc.)

My goal is to identify who these decision makers are, meet them where they are in the journey and provide an opinion on the best thinking (both from the market and, where appropriate, from Smashing’s subject matter experts) or consultation on building the right solution.

 

Professionally speaking, what are you most looking forward to in the next six months?

Smashing is home to a bunch of truly innovative minds and highly-capable makers.  I’m really looking forward to having the conversations that lead to putting them to work on the problems of clients who deserve their intellect and work.

 

What are the biggest challenges that enterprise businesses face today?

As firms race to manage their digital transformation initiatives (and then keep them current), I tend to see three challenges that undermine their progress:

  1. A foundational culture of change is needed… and it’s hard, risky, and costly to achieve
  2. Many companies lack a crystal clear understanding of the business challenges and opportunities that are imposed and offered by innovation
  3. The market moves so quickly and it’s hard for companies to staff the right bench of talent in order to keep up

What’s really exciting about my job is that I get to talk with prospective clients about the types of solutions Smashing offers to these sticky challenges.

 

What is the one piece of technology you can’t live without?

I’m extraordinarily dependent on my phone. It’s my umbilical to the Universe and I really do feel unsettled when I’m away from it too long… to an extent that I’d be somewhat embarrassed to admit.

 

When taking a look at the design value chain continuum, you’ll often see projects handed off to differing agencies at various stages of the project lifecycle. Why is Smashing unique in terms of our role within the design value chain continuum?

It’s become clear to me that at Smashing, “Research to Realization” is more than an alliterative tagline – it’s an organizing principle. The agency has been deliberately developed to create and deliver value to our clients throughout the project lifecycle.  Our Strategy team helps identify commercial opportunities for clients, deliver insights and assess value propositions. Our Design team collaborates with clients through ideation, proof of concept, product build and minimum viable product. Our developers work with clients to deploy products and services to the market. Then, we’re there, analyzing signals from the market in general, and users in particular, to help the client refine the offering, identify new opportunities, and start that cycle again.

Instead of losing efficiencies, information, and understanding during the perilous handoffs from the business strategy to design domain, and then again from design to the build and deploy domain, Smashing stands as a versatile and continuous partner throughout the lifecycle, which is a wonderful differentiator and tends to make my job that much more rewarding.

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