Tag Archives | innovation

Excellence is 3 raised to the power of (i*e)

The formula of success, in the coming few years, is “3 to the power of i”. If you get this formula, you will improve your organization’s shot at winning.

Digital transformation evolves around extreme focus on world class digital customer experiences, operational excellence, and business model transformation. That said, you can’t succeed in any of those domains without understanding the computing concepts defined in IDC’s model of the “third platform”. In short, the first model was the mainframe, the second model was the PC model, and today we’re building solutions on top of the third platform which is far more complex and stands on four pillars:

  • Cloud
  • Mobile
  • Analytics
  • Social

So, you need to use and relate your digital solutions design to these pillars, in your organization’s transformation. Unfortunately, winning is not as easy to do only this. The future takes this one step further and you now need add the dimensions of innovation capability and emerging technologies.

How you address the topic innovation has become critical. Aspects including “open vs closed innovation”, embracing chaos in ideation and incubation, and always quickly testing ideas in real user contexts, are vital to your innovation capability. (My advise is to pick up the book “The Innovator’s Method” (by Nathan Furr and  Jeff Dyer) for a practical guide to how to succeed.)

Innovation today has a crucial relationship to emerging technologies, such as AI, conversational UI, and robotics. Forrester Research recently published an excellent model, explaining how different emerging technologies relate to each other, and when to expect them to reach their full disruptive potential. See the illustrations below.

Screenshot 2017-03-03 14.26.27

If we now put the third platform’s “Cloud, Mobile, Analytics, and Social” next to innovation and emerging technologies, the road ahead appears. You need to look at all of the intersections and work out your approach to each of them. For example:

Cloud + Mobile + Innovation + AI
Cloud + Analytics + Innovation + IoT
Social + Innovation + Conversational UI

… it’s also a simple formula to remember, if you ever are asked to quickly explain what to focus on in the coming three years!

Rendering Power Circle Hologram on black background

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Faster, cheaper, and open… Innovation

Innovation is the hottest topic in digital transformation today. It includes technology accelerators such as IoT, machine learning, robotics, new API platforms, and so on. The topic of innovation also evolves around the “who, what, and how”-questions, and it is evident that the faster, cheaper, and open you can run your innovation process, the more value you will be able to create.

The latest report and update of our digital transformation framework (“The Innovation Paradigm for the Digital Age“) dives deep into these aspects, so I recommend spending a few moments and take it to heart. Download it here…

screenshot-2016-10-28-15-54-31

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Current digital transformation topics

In the last few months, I have traveled to meet customers in Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the UK. A handful of topics seem to be in focus, regardless of country and sector:

  • Innovation
  • Digital ecosystems
  • Customer journey mapping (in a truly customer oriented way)

Below are some key questions being asked and thus also indicate where companies are spending attention in their ongoing transformation programs.

Innovation

  • How do we best work with innovation?
  • Optimal innovation processes?
  • Dedicated innovation group or everyone involved all the time?
  • Interfacing external parties, such as the startup-scene, partners, customers, etc
  • How can achieve traceability between ideas to incubate/try and our business’ core business objectives?
  • How can we experiment externally, without hurting the brand?

Digital ecosystems

  • How can we open up our products, services, operational processes, and systems, to better collaborate with the world outside the company?
  • How can we both protect our data and at the same time provide easy access to it?
  • If we don’t know how to make money (business model) from sharing data or participate in new digital ecosystems, is it at all worth the efforts?
  • What are the best API-platform management practices?

Customer journey mapping

  • How can we better understand WHY our customer buys or product/service?
  • What happens before and after that the customer has interacted with us, and how can we digitally improve those experiences?
  • How do we test the outcome of changed digital touchpoints acorss entire customer journeys?

 

 

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Boarding a flight with an NFC implant

Update: This is just an experiment with no plans of actual public implementation. SAS has provided NFC tags to EuroBonus Gold members for a long time. The tag contains only the EuroBonus ID, in an encrypted format. Only SAS can write valid EuroBonus ID data to NFC tags. When traveling, you are always required to provide a valid ID when requested.

A few weeks ago I had an NFC chip implanted into my hand, just beneath the skin. While I am certainly not the first person to have an NFC implant, I am probably one of the first travelers to pass through Stockholm Arlanda airport, through security, at the lounge, and finally through the gate to the aircraft, using only the chip in my hand.

My NFC chip contains my Scandinavian Airlines EuroBonus member ID, and since the airport has NFC readers all the way from security to the gate, I can use the chip instead of ordinary boarding passes.

In the video below, you can check out how it went at the airport, and you can also meet Massimo Pascotto, working with innovation at SAS, and listen in on a conversation we had about the experiment. At the end of the video, you can see how the actual procedure went. Viewer discretion is advised.

Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 13.28.35

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The NFC kit I use is from Dangerous Things. Don’t miss the TEDxSFU talk by the founder, Amal Graafstra.

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Top 10 Innovation Lab Best Practices

The topic of innovation is critical in this age of digital disruption and transformation. How do companies and organizations to plan for and deliver innovation, which often seems to be an illusive mirage? The answer is to include innovation in the strategic executive agenda and invest long term in an Innovation Lab.

An Innovation Lab, if setup correctly, enables rapid and business value focused ideation and prototyping. When connected, end-to-end, from the origin of the opportunity/problem to final production, time-to-market is improved, speed-to-volume is accelerated, and more importantly makes it possible to bring that which is radically different to the market.

The term “radically different” is critical in an Innovation Lab-context. Business-as-usual development outside of the Innovation Lab needs to stay relevant and innovative. Innovation is not something that can or should be excluded anywhere, even if an Innovation Lab is implemented. However, an Innovation Lab must be challenged with the primary task: to design and bring to market that which is radically different, since this factor is what is at the heart of disruption and transformation.

So, with that said, here are my top 10 Innovation Lab Best Practices.

1. Define and publish the Innovation Lab charter

The purpose of a charter is to clearly and concisely explain what the Innovation Lab should do and how. The charter could be as short as:

“XYZ Labs delivers innovation to radically improve customer experience and accelerate business operations. The lab lives in an open ecosystem of idea generating forums and prototypes in a failing fast-spirit.”

Linked to the charter, you need to define the Innovation Lab’s governance model, process, location, and budget. Publish the charter. Make it known. Be proud of it.

2. Ask the right questions

An Innovation Lab often tries to do the seemingly impossible: creating a structured approach to what seems to live by randomness and ad-hoc-opportunities. However, by asking the right questions you command the attention to the right topics. Examples of relevant questions include:

“How can we radically improve customer experiences in sales and delivery processes?
How can we delight the customer in unexpectedly helpful ways?
What are the most critical customer problems?”

3. Define the characteristics of a great idea

Guiding innovation principles and desired digital characteristics are not about limiting the scope of relevant ideas or about detailing specific ideas. Instead they serve as helpful markers of the selection process. When these markers are known in advance, the relevance of gathered ideas increase.
Examples of characteristics: contextually smart, real-time connections between customer events and internal operations, radically innovative, differentiating, connects customers/users with each other, omnichannel enabled, unexpectedly digital, enabling third party companies to add value to customers/users, etc.

4. Implement an open ideation process and platform

Great ideas come from everywhere; from both external and internal sources. Limit ideation sources as little as possible. Engage in a planned and structured way with different sources. Implement a capable ideation solution platform from where ideas can be discussed, rated, and fed into the Innovation Lab. Include idea generation at every digital touchpoint, for example through “I have an idea!” widgets.

5. Engage proactively with critical ideation groups

Identify key persons in VIP customer/user groups, and interact frequently with them specifically on the topic of innovation, and give special attention to their ideas.

6. Observe the customer/user

Nothing beats leaving the office and workshop facilities, and going to where the customer/user physically uses your products and services. This is especially true in app and IoT ideation. Observe and interact, with both the customer/user as well as employees at/near the location. The more time you can spend where the actual challenges and opportunities exist, the better you’ll understand what innovation can improve.

7. Select the right ideas to prototype

The single most important aspect of the Innovation Lab process is most likely the step from ideation to prototyping. Why is one idea considered good and another not as good? Why is one idea selected to move forward to prototyping, and another idea is not? As soon as this step is considered ad-hoc, uncontrolled, or prone to purely personal subjective preference, the legitimacy of the Innovation Lab can be questioned. Even though some innovative ideas don’t fit into seemingly simplistic molds of criteria, most actually do.
The answer is: filter ideas through desired characteristics, customer/user desires, technical feasibility, and business value, and keep an updated and visible backlog/roadmap for the Innovation Lab.

8. Smart prototyping using MVP, FF, and Beta

Create prototypes using correctly scoped “Minimum Viable Product” features and fail fast!
Don’t bet the farm on one plant. Many Innovation Lab ideas fail because its entire bandwidth is spent on one single idea. Plan to run multiple idea prototypes simultaneously. This forces you to adopt a “Minimum Viable Product”-scoping, i.e. what can you take out from the idea to actually try it. Mind the common pitfall in cutting scope: don’t keep most of of the functional scope and cut most of the user experience/visual design! Instead, keep just the most critical functional aspects of the idea, and wrap those in as much as visual glory as possible.
“Fail Fast” and stay away from destructive pride. A prototype shouldn’t typically take more than four weeks to design and develop. With the hardware challenges in IoT, allow another four weeks, but consider two months for a prototype to be developed a very long time.
Unless some or even most prototypes fail, for whatever reason, you are not trying hard enough to perform as an Innovation Lab. Therefore, make sure failing is expected in and around the lab, and execute prototypes in a failing fast spirit. Don’t get stuck on one idea too long, especially if it is untried with customers/users.
Don’t invest yourself in one single idea too much, risking feeling too proud to let go of certain ideas. Be patient, that same idea may reappear in other lab contexts.
Make room for prototypes in your production systems. For example, create a place on your site or in your apps to hold “Beta”-features. You can have some beta features available for everyone and if you support customer/user accounts, you can even enable some beta features just for some select groups of customers/users.

9. Leverage the creative nature open innovation ecosystems

Enable third party groups to prototype their own ideas by supplying sandboxed environments with as complete APIs as possible. You’d be surprised how many are intrigued by the creative nature of innovation. Expect partners, startups, students, and other third party groups to be interested in innovating in and around your traditional value chain. Invite to open hackathons and innovation workshops.

10. Take feedback seriously

Prototypes are meant to be tried and tested, not just by Innovation Lab staff, but by customers/users. Be sure to take their feedback seriously. Be prepared to iterate through a handful versions of each prototype, before deciding whether or not to introduce the solution into production.

Finally, the handover from the Innovation Lab to production is critical. Be pragmatic on resourcing in the handover phase. Most likely will Innovation Lab staff need to participate in the first few steps of infusion of the solution into that which is already in production.

If you need assistance in setting up or revitalizing your Innovation Lab, don’t hesitate to contact me. We recently launched a new initiative called “Applied Innovation Exchange” with a robust Innovation Lab-service catalog (and an exciting San Francisco venue to meet at). Together with my Capgemini and SogetiLabs colleagues, I’d love to interact with you on that which is radically different.

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