In early February I wrote about the

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Published on February 27th, 2018 | by Emergent Enterprise


Emerging Tech Lessons from Flamin’ Hot Cheetos

In early February I wrote about the “hidden experts” in your company: the JMEs. My point was that the Job Matter Experts, the employees who make the company run day in and day out, are some of your best sources of information to help improve your business processes and challenges.

There may not be a better example of a JME than Richard Montañez, a one-time janitor at Frito-Lay in California. After hearing a challenging video message from the CEO that “everyone can act like an owner and make the company better,” Montañez saw an opportunity to produce a different kind of Cheeto. He had the idea of blanketing a Cheeto with the spices of elote, grilled Mexican street corn. He even did some home-cooked test Cheetos. He gathered up some courage, bought a $3 tie, and pitched the idea to the Frito-Lay CEO who had delivered the video message. And, thus was born the Flamin’ Hot Cheeto!

Not only is that a confirmation of the JME being alive and well but there is another important lesson in Richard’s story: the strength of the mash-up. The mash-up takes one successful idea or process from one world and combines it with another proven success and the end result is something unique and powerful. The Flamin’ Hot Cheeto story is a reminder that we need to look at our business processes and tasks and see if we can discover ways to mash up new technology to provide better productivity, cost savings and products. How do we do that?

  1. Look for information or productivity gaps. All processes can be improved. A thorough analysis of how you build a product, execute a process or meet daily requirements can show you where specific steps or tasks can be made better. Is emerging technology an answer? Perhaps it is artificial intelligence that takes over some decision-making. Or augmented reality glasses that provide on-demand information at the time of need. Be creative.
  2. Understand your existing devices and technology. Never has business had so much power and potential readily available. But, you need to know what technology is capable of before you can consider the mash-up. The devices, softwares and digital components you are already using most likely have affordances that you don’t take advantage of. Understand all their functionality, dive into all the software menus and see the choices and comb through the settings and see how you can configure it to make improvements. There may also be APIs or plugins available that can add to your existing technology capabilities.
  3. Seek out new technologies. Then apply them to your current way of getting business done. This takes initiative to do your homework. Go to conferences, read tech sites like and run trial tests and prototypes. See what your competitors are doing with AI, IoT and AR/VR. There may even be open source software that can provide answers and help your budget. Sit down with your IT department and get their take on adding tech. Maybe you can mash up virtual reality with some existing training. The possibilities are endless.

Today, Richard Montañez is now an EVP with Frito-Lay and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos is a billion dollar snack flavor and the best selling Frito-Lay snack. His story is being made into a movie. All because of a mash-up of ideas that resulted in a spicy new product. It’s a reminder to take a fresh look at the way you do business and mash it up with new technology. You may arrive at a Flamin’ Hot idea for your company.

Photo Source: John J. Kim, Chicago Tribune

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The Emergent Enterprise (EE) website brings together current and important news in enterprise mobility and the latest in innovative technologies in the business world. The articles are hand selected by Emergent Enterprise and not the result of automated electronic aggregating. The site is designed to be a one-stop shop for anyone who has an ongoing interest in how technology is changing how the world does business and how it affects the workforce from the shop floor to the top floor. EE encourages visitor contributions and participation through comments, social media activity and ratings.

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