Without doubt, innovation in digital services will become THE competitive differentiator in the connected age.
When UBER first launched its' app based car service they were called disruptors of the taxi industry. What they actually did was INNOVATE in a sector that had remained static since the early days of the Hackney Carriage.
UBER didn't disrupt taxi cabs, they created a new way for people to get from A to B.
For smaller, leaner organisations to embrace innovation process is relatively straightforward. Teams are smaller and closely located, mindsets are more flexible, attitudes are aligned, legacy is non existent.
In larger global organisations hampered by geography, diversity, regulation, legacy and linear process, the reality of delivering innovation culture is an altogether bigger challenge.
So, where do we begin?
1. Wake up and smell the coffee
Everything has changed. The business model that delivered success in the past, will not work in the future. Within the next 20 year’s technology-enabled services will replace selling things. We are rapidly moving into a phase of business where customers pay for outcomes enabled by the product without the need to own the product. Companies must learn to build new revenue models around the delivery of the outcomes their customers’ value most.
2. Paradigm shift: Make innovation the new ‘normal’
Create an environment that supports change, promotes innovative thinking and rewards the innovators. Bridging silos and exposing barriers, both physical and virtual in an organization creates ‘spark points’ that enable ideas to happen. Mobilizing the workforce to think creatively as part of their daily work will be key as will be the need to banish the fear and repercussions of failure. Companies need to be curious, and think ‘what if’ more of the time.
3. Culture: A culture of change, not a culture of standing still
Leaders need to rise to the challenge of supporting change with a clear digital strategy and a roadmap that mitigates risk, leverages learning and promotes creative collaboration. They need to embrace innovation and cascade their enthusiasm throughout their organizations, with initiatives such as ‘design thinking’ which are crucial in delivering engagement in the new culture among their employees as well as real actionable outcomes that can drive differentiation and value to the enterprise user and customer.
4. Leadership: Appoint an 'Innovation Champion'
The digital age offers huge opportunity but also a bewildering array of paths to follow. Innovation needs to be a core part of the company vision and implementation roadmap. Organizations need to rethink their existing management structures to allow for it to flourish. Placing innovation solely in the hands of the CIO will only deliver platform and process benefits, companies need to think bigger and new roles such as CXO (Chief Experience Officer) need to be created to drive an end to end innovation agenda across the whole business landscape to include all user touch points.
5. Evangelize: Turn employees into 'Innovation Evangelists'
Business needs to focus on creating services that put their employees first, increase their satisfaction and reduce their stress points. Treating employees like customers and turning them into advocates of the larger strategy. They must reward creative thinking, empower change makers and publicize their achievements. This will reduce employment costs, drive engagement and reduce training expense as well as making everyone work happier and more efficiently.