Monday, June 24, 2019

Running IT as Innovation Accelerator

With rapid changes and continuous disruptions, it's important to fine-tune IT as an innovation accelerator that captures business growth opportunities and provides sustained competitive business advantage in the long run.

Digital transformation represents a break from the past, with a high level of impact and complexity. Innovations in the digital era are coming at seemingly much fast space, IT can contribute significantly to business innovation because business initiatives today nearly always involve some form of IT facilitating for predicting, automating, changing, and innovating. The frequent disruptions and fierce competitions push businesses to speed up and grasp growth opportunities by running IT as innovation accelerator.

CIOs need to break down the IT thinking box and clarify innovation management goals via the multitude of business perspectives: IT has great opportunities to catalyze innovation because technology is often the disruptive force behind innovation and IT takes charges of one of the most critical and time-intensive piece of innovation - information. The business insight refined from information provides a significant clue to the business on what and where to innovate. Information brings about business ideas and insight, and business ideas generate lots of information. Innovation often happens at the intersection of people and technology. IT leaders should run IT from an outside-in business lens and clarify innovation management goal from the customers’ perspective. Businesses can become highly effective in executing innovative ideas by leveraging IT-enabled digital platforms and technologies, relying less on silo functions, and more on cross-functional collaboration and innovation. Innovation Management today is in fact, challenging, the bulk of information, methodologies, and approaches involved as well as processes encountered speaks in favor of the scientific discipline and engineering practices to manage innovation. To run IT as the innovation accelerator, IT leaders have to take the holistic lens and think out-of-the-box, encourage their team to spend more time at the business side as well as directly with customers on solving critical business problems creatively and catalyzing business innovation relentlessly.

The differentiation provided by innovative technologies or abundant information allows companies to reach the "long-tail" customer that previously was impossible or uneconomic: Nowadays, business changes so frequently and so quickly, competing through cost-efficiency as a business strategy is much harder to survive. But the differentiation provided by innovative technologies and information-based business foresight and customer-insight allows companies to reach the “long tail” customers that previously were impossible or uneconomic. IT has both internal customers and end-customers - who buy the goods or services from their company. Innovation is in the eye of the beholder -customers. Customers must be willing to pay for it, be it a products/processes/services innovation. Focusing on customers' needs should be an easier path to grow the innovation fruit. When IT can really understand or attempt to capture the insight about what customers actually want, it is when IT can reach the “long-tail” customers by introducing new products or new methods of production, opening new markets or utilizing new resources, leveraging digital variety for brainstorming and gaining new ideas. Customer-centric innovation is in strong demand because digital is the age of people, choice, and empathy.

IT can help to weave an enriched innovation ecosystem with the very characteristics of the variety, interdependence, diversification, and collaboration: There are many components in an effective innovation environment or ecosystem such as innovation leadership, culture, capability, practices, tools, recognition system measurements, risk control, etc. Each component by itself may not cause a good environment, but collectively they can weave a powerful innovation ecosystem that streamlines ideas flow and enables systematic innovation management. It is important to be able to co-create a digital ecosystem with IT as the linchpin. The evolution of innovation only exists in more open environments or the dynamic ecosystem that create insight, take advantage of all sources of creativity in an open way. The business competitiveness is gated by innovation, and their innovation is gated by their ability to "systematize" innovation as opposed to relying on sporadic talent. In a healthy and self-renewing innovation ecosystem, customers, channel partners, suppliers, and industry ecosystem participants are all active agents who have permission to combine the modular capabilities exposed in a platform to create new ideas, knowledge or experiences, and develop them into full fruity. By taking an ecosystem approach, innovation effort can be scaled up, to solve large problems, accelerate idea flow, and make a significant impact on business advancement and societal progress.

Digital innovation has an expanded spectrum and a broader perspective. IT-led digital innovations are information driven and customer-centric. With rapid changes and continuous disruptions, it's important to fine-tune IT as an innovation accelerator that captures business growth opportunities and provides sustained competitive business advantage in the long run.


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