The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Service centric innovation – does it require a change in thinking?

 

SaaS.pngI was just in a stimulating discussion with a co-worker preparing to be part of a panel (that ISSIP is hosting) and looking at the question:

“Most product companies are making a shift from product-centric business models to more service-centric business models?  How does this impact your innovation ecosystem and how can entrepreneurs leverage this trend?”

 

This question seems to be based on the foundation that companies that may be product centric don’t understand services. I don’t actually see this as true. Almost all companies get a significant amount of value from service activities and innovation, even if it is just servicing and maintaining their products. The day of throwing the product out the door and checking the transaction complete are over.

 

In fact the whole IoT phenomenon is based on adding services to devices, whether it is your TV now being able to download content or your thermostat managing temperature based on how the environment around it is being used – these are all services – and IoT will have significant implications.

 

Now I do think there is a fundamental question about how much the context and culture of the companies has changed and if a company’s (or IT’s) approach to innovation has shifting. Since almost everyone lives in a consumer-oriented lifestyle, service innovation has been creeping into our thoughts and expectations for a very long time.

 

We have all this talk about digital natives and digital companies maybe that is all misplaced and we should be looking at it from a services impact and futures perspective. It is not that companies are becoming digital – it is that they are being more services oriented and in the process, hunger for greater information and action.

 

Innovation Roundtable Workshop

Recently, I attended an Innovation Roundtable workshop (@innovationroundtable) hosted by Tetra Pak in Lund, Sweden.  The Innovation Roundtable holds a number of event every year covering a wide range of events hosted by leading firms and in key European locations, addressing different innovation topics.

 

The Lund event combined presentations by executive speakers from a number of large companies, immersive roundtable discussions to share experiences and insights on different innovation topics, and informal breaks for networking with peers.

 

I believe that these kind of multi-industry and mult-company workshops are an excellent forum to meet and network with the business side of existing or possible clients. It’s definitely worth getting involved I these kind of session, hopefully you’ll get as much fun and insight out of it as I did during this workshop.

 

 

Labels: CxO| Innovation| Vision

If it is innovative, you probably will need to spell it out

innovation.pngAs I mentioned previously, I’ve been in a number of conversations about innovation lately. One thing that surprises me is that so often, in these innovation discussions, teams fail to take into account the behavioral issues and the need to formally communicate what will be different, how it will be measured and why (this is a place where gamification can help).

 

After spending time ‘heads down’ working on an innovative effort, we somehow assume that everyone else will have the same contextual understanding. If the idea or solution is really innovative, I’d bet the rest of the world does not have that same view. Taking the step back to view it from others perspective can be quite difficult. You’ll need to spell out how others will benefit, what will be expected of their behavior and what the relationship is of the innovation in the bigger plan.

 

I was in a discussion of strategic organizational planning for a service organization and they had the same issues. It is not just about having an organizational scope and mission statement.

The need for an innovative look at innovation efforts

innovation unlock.pngI’ve been in a number of discussion lately looking at innovation activities. In today’s dynamic business environment, the status quo is riskier than changing – sometimes it may not matter which direction you move, as long as you’re not standing still.

 

I am a big advocate for gamification, but most of these efforts are based on a bottoms-up approach that tries to leverage the ‘intelligence of the crowd’. Some interesting things definitely do come out of these efforts, but rarely are they directed on what is really needed. If 5% can be implemented, you’re doing great with these approaches.

 

That is where top down approaches to innovation come into play. They try to focus the innovation flow around a specific concern or issue. I used the term flow, because it’s happening, whether we tap into it or not – innovation is just part of being human. Top down in combination with a bottoms-up approach are more effective. Yet – they’re not effective enough.

 

I have figured out a few things (that are probably obvious to most):

  • Innovation needs a strategic focus. At the same time, the chance of getting it right the first time is slim, so an approach needs to be both strategic and agile (at the same time).
  • Innovation needs to be part of the mindset of the people involved. For many organizations, innovation doesn't feature anywhere in their plans and that’s a shame. This can be true for entrepreneurial organizations as well as large corporations. I mentioned strategic importance of innovation, yet culture eats strategy for lunch.
  • If you want to grow, you need to find a way of embedding innovation in your strategic priorities – and that means investment. It also needs to be focused on what you do and how you do it. This is one of the most frustration parts of working in the IT space. We think that being innovative in IT is something that should be recognized by the rest of the business. In many ways, they pay us (particularly service organizations) so they don’t need to see it at all – let alone view it as innovative.
  • Innovation efforts need to be measurable. Just because ideas are new, doesn’t mean there won’t be a ruler to measure progress. There will be one, why not plan on it.

A while back I mentioned that one of the first laws of technical leadership is “don’t discourage them”. The same can be true about the approach to innovation. At the same time, innovation efforts need to be focused on outcomes -- we actually need to do something and not just think about it.

 

I have come to the conclusion that we need a more innovative approach to innovation, since the whole concept is full of conflicts. One of the first things that is probably always true though is the need to develop a common understanding and definition of innovation, since it can mean so much to so many .

Will we need to update Moore’s law with the coming innovations...?

memory.jpgI was in an exchange with someone this week where we were talking about technology advances and some of the exponential ‘laws’ of IT. One of those is Moore’s law of transistor density. It is definitely useful, but maybe transistor density no longer has the meaning or breadth of relevance it used to?

 

For storage, it can take many transistors to store a one or a zero. But with Memristor or some of the other technologies that will someday compete with today’s memory circuits, they will not use transistors. Will we need to move to the density of 'holding either a zero or a one' instead?

 

Storage is just the start of the shift in computing circuits that are likely.

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About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
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