Possibilities Podcast Episode: 17
You want to be innovative, right? But what does innovation mean? And how do you go from having a conversation about innovation to getting everybody in a room together to start talking about some problem?
Ashish Srivastava leads the innovation hub within Mindtree, proudly called the digital pumpkin, and Nelly Ortiz is the head of strategy and innovation at the same company. Mindtree brings together business, technology and experience to help solve business problems using tools and technologies.
Nelly and Ashish joined us on this episode of Possibilities to talk about what innovation is, the process for creating innovative solutions, and the challenges corporations face when undertaking digital innovation initiatives.
What Is Innovation?
"Innovation," Nelly said, "is the outcome of the problem we want to solve for."
Innovation requires experimentation. You have to gather data.
Now, lots of companies struggle with data, not so much with collecting it, but wth analyzing it, organizing it, and making it actionable.
To drive change, though it's not just about having data and information. It's actually about how communication happens within companies. You have to speak in natural language that emphasizes application and not just talk about the bits of bytes you've extracted from a data stack.
Finally, you have the technology piece of innovation. It uses technology to create new offerings. For example, you could put bots out there with different keywords and gather information from the Internet. With that, you could tell a story of what you learned about certain people's search and target market, different trends and behaviors.
How Do You Create Innovative Solutions?
Start with a business outcome you are actually looking to achieve and then work backwards. Your business outcome could be to bring in the operational efficiencies in your tech landscape, for example, or to grow your brand engagement.
It could be a cultural change, a process change, a technology change or a business model change. What do you need to do to foster that desired change?
Then, come up with ideas. Identify ways you can make an impact on the issue you are solving. Align those ideas around your desired business outcomes, and create a consistent definition of success.
"One thing that I love to do with our clients," Nelly said, "is to align on what innovation actually means to us in the room."
Like many words in technology, innovation has become a buzzword.
So Nelly and Ashish created an equation where they start with the business outcomes. What are you trying to achieve? Who are your users? What is your vision? What is your brand? How do you define success?
With the answers to those questions in hand, the Mindsets team can figure out the accelerators in the market — trends, technology, partners, anything that is altering the environment. But nothing will really make sense if it's not powered by experienced design.
If we build something that is functionally intelligent and efficient but not usable, then we just waste a lot of money. So innovation has to be three things:
- Measurable. What and how do we begin and then how do we end?
- Differentiated. So what is the difference that we make with this innovation?
- Impactful. What impact can we measure?
What Innovation Triggers and Challenges Do Companies Face?
When you realize you have to make changes, it puts you under pressure. What does it take to break through where you are, move forward, and try an innovation approach?
First, define your key success parameters. How do you align those parameters with your own business?
Second, ask how innovation will impact your revenue. Will you win? Whether it's a new business model, product launch, or market, the thinking part is the margin uplift.
Third is operational efficiency. Can you bring in cost savings, which can then be invested into something else? How do you improve your customer engagement?
"It becomes very, very critical for companies to identify those KPIs," Ashish said, "and then work around them and then take it forward from them."
People, Processes, and Tools for Innovation
Once you come up with a solution, you've got new technology and new processes — maybe new people, too — in play. How do you think about and address those changes?
"Our clients are afraid to talk about certain technologies or certain trends" Nelly shared with us, "because they don't know what they don't know."
Let's say a new CEO has come in, and people who've been with the company 20 years are getting nervous. They've lived in the little box of their role for two decades, and climbing out of that box is tough.
"So what we love to do at the beginning of every conversation with our clients," Nelly told us, "is what we call inspiration for innovation."
In this process, Nelly and Asheesh try to understand the problems their clients are facing and research the relevant trends — technology, people in the room, and what's happening in the marketplace.
Then everyone can all start at the same baseline: Co-create together and do something that's new but also on the base of your industry and your company.
In short, innovation starts with two simple questions:
- How can we actually make a difference?
- And how do we measure that?
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