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The Business of Innovation.

August 15, 2015 1 comment

In order to survive and thrive in a continuously evolving digital landscape, there is no escaping the fact that every organisation must place innovation as a core activity in their business model, but what is the best way to go about it?

Many organisations choose to address this by investing in an innovation capability (i.e. time, space and resources) in the form of an innovation lab / centre / hub, where they can participate and play “the innovation game“, as described in a recent paper by Capgemini Consulting and Altimeter Group. One key message is that successful innovation centres need to have: clear purpose, executive support and real autonomy to delivery outcomes. Brian Solis posted an excellent summary here.

Over time, I’ve come to understand that that innovation typically happens when a pressing need or challenge is presented to a diverse group of people, with the right mindset to recognise and seize the opportunity to affect change, in a sustainable and profitable way. Below are top five lessons I’ve learnt over the years leading innovation in my business unit.

 

Top 5 Innovation lessons learnt (so far):

  1. Innovation is much more than ‘Digital’ – It has been happening much longer than the digital transformation phenomena we see / hear about nowadays. You’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise, but digital is just one form of innovation, albeit one that is farther reaching that most.
  2. Ideation is necessary; execution is a must – Application is key. Good ideas are dime a dozen, but the real value lies in applying new and/or established ideas in ways that deliver said value to your business and clients’ in a sustainable / profitable way
  3. Start thinking about the IP in co-creation & ecosystem – this one will only get bigger and more urgent over time. Currently we see a frenzy of co-creation and new economic dynamics in the so called sharing economics, however evolution is driven as much by scarity as abundance therefore the role of IP ownership as a driver and benefit of innovation will not disappear anytime soon.
  4. Innovation is subjective – One person’s innovation is another’s business as usual. The definition of innovation alone is a minefield of individual viewpoints. However, one aspect which everyone seems to agree is that innovation “involves doing something in a new or different way which delivers some sort of added value”. Discuss.
  5. Innovation is a journey not a destination. (i.e. tradition vs. culture) – most innovation labs are concerned with creating tangible new, innovative products and services,  the success of which they may be judged. However, not many innovation initiatives start out with a focus on how to create a culture, never mind tradition, for innovation.

Are you a CIO/CTO/CDO, Chief Innovation Officer, Innovation Director, Lab Leader or manager? Did you find any of the above to be true in your experience, and and how do they apply to your current organisation? I’d be very interested to know about it one way or the other.

In any case, it is relatively easy to reach a conclusion that organisations need to play the long game and not give into temptation of seeking quarterly results for their innovation initiatives. KPIs and other measures are necessary to track success, but they can also not constrain innovation. The true business of innovation is manifest in the long game needed for evolving a certain “point-in-time” innovation culture into longer term tradition for innovation.

CEO / CIO Digital Alert!

August 29, 2013 Leave a comment

What is digital and why is it now so important? How are CEOs thinking about business, IT and digital? What is Digital Business Strategy (aka – what should CxOs be doing to ensure their organisation can benefit from the challenges and opportunities presented by Digital)? Ps. how much of this is hype versus actual reality?

Gartner At BCS

Gartner @ BCS Event

These are the sort of questions regularly asked of top research analysts, and a couple of weeks ago we heard some answers, and more, at a recent BCS London event featuring two leading analysts from Gartner. Mark Raskino, (VP and Gartner Fellow), focused on the outcomes and insights from  the Gartner’s CEO Concerns 2013 survey, and Dave Aron, (VP and Gartner/BCS Fellow) discussed the urgent need for digital business strategies. Below are some highlights from their presentations:

  • Multiple uncertainties of the last 12-18 months are starting to lift, and CEOs feel better able to plan and invest – there is renewed focus on profitability, plus there is money available to invest
  • After a decade of IT service performance and tight cost control, good digital strategy is emerging as a key enabler for forward looking organisations. “There has to be more to the future of IT than endlessly babysitting ERP” – Dale Kutnick, Gartner EVP
  • Digital is a mixture of various themes, which include: mature forces (i.e. e-commerce, e-service, online), contemporary forces (i.e. social, mobile, cloud, information), and emerging forces (e.g. Internet of Things, 3D printing, robotics, data science), all with a common “revenue winning” focus.
  • CIOs beware – new C-level information and technology roles (e.g. CDO/CIO or Chief Digital/Data/Innovation Officers) are emerging to fill the void left by traditional roles in the age of Digital
  •  ‘Digital’ is a much misused (and often restrictive) term which actually encompasses “…all electronic forms and uses of information and technology” – Dave Aron, Gartner.
  • We are entering a third era of Enterprise IT which has evolved through: IT Systems/Apps to IT Services/Processes, and now Digital Business/Models. Great IT strategy is no longer enough, organisations need a solid digital strategy to move forward
  • Digital business strategy answers the question: how will your business survive and thrive in a time of digital disruption? It is and integral part of business strategy.
  • Business processes are a terrible way to innovate in a time of disruptive digital innovation. “Business models are a more natural way to think of digital strategy”
  • Gartner’s Annual CIO survey 2013 indicates that, over the next decade or so, smaller ‘long tail’ firms will be most influential partners on the journey to digital!

The above are just a small sample of the thought provoking content covered during this most excellent, value for money event. As usual, I just had to ask the question of how Intellectual Property (IP) will likely influence and / or be influenced by the rise of digital, and the answers (which are recorded in a post event video interview) could become the topic of a future blog post. Watch this space.