The formula for achieving success in the current always-on, always-evolving business environment begins and ends with innovation. It’s a prerequisite for staying ahead of the competition and customer needs. Likewise, constantly evolving/transforming your business model to align with customer buying behavior and expectations is the new normal.
Despite this reality, delivering on innovation remains a challenge.
Why is that? Why are some companies better at innovation than others? And how are some able to deliver on innovation and digital transformation so much faster than others?
The answers are twofold and quite simple in concept:
- Successful companies leverage technology to drive innovation.
- Successful companies allocate resources to innovation.
Signs innovation is a priority in your organization
When I talk with IT leaders, it’s clear most understand IT has become highly strategic and the role they play has evolved accordingly. But it’s also clear there are wide gaps between those organizations where IT is helping lead or deliver IT and business transformation and those where they’re simply along for the ride.
Sometimes the differences are easy to spot, and there are clear signs an IT group is “able to innovate.” That they have BOTH the time and resources to apply to it, as well as support from leadership to pursue it. I’d break these signs down further as follows:
- Dedicated leadership: When I walk into a meeting with IT people and the Director of Innovation is involved, it’s a clear sign innovation is alive and well. If they happen to report to the CIO; even better. By the way, if you’re a CIO and you’ve been thinking about this, move quickly because it’s possible leaders in other areas are thinking the same thing.
- Cross-functional engagement: If the CIO’s invited a few peers (from operations or marketing, for example) that’s another sign the IT team is an innovation leader within the company.
- Passion for their business: They (IT) have a clear understanding of, and like to share and discuss, their business initiatives. This often comes with a clear disdain for typical vendor pitches.
- An open mind: They’re interested in technology options that can help accomplish their objectives, and transform how they do things, and are open to ideas and discussion vs. a typical RFP-style response.
- Shifting resources: Internal IT resources are shifting from day-to-day maintenance (“keeping the lights on”) and they’re looking for partners that can provide managed solutions to help make the shift.
- A solid cloud strategy: Finally, they’re moving enterprise apps/services to the cloud to be more agile and execute on their vision more quickly than the competition.
Where does your IT team fall in the innovation mix?
The important question to ask is whether you see any of these innovation signposts in your organization.
Does your IT team have time to devote to innovation and digital transformation? Does your executive management team support IT’s role in advancing this agenda?
If the answer’s yes, you’re on your way. Your team’s position has become more and more strategic, putting it in a strong position to take on the innovation agenda. Good timing, since you’ll find a range of new technologies, accelerated cloud adoption and a shift in resource allocation to help you deliver on it.
“There’s no better time than the present to put innovation on the IT agenda.”
If the answer is no, it’s not too late to start. Even the most innovative organizations still report spending a high concentration of their time on core IT functionality. For example, Salesforce Research showed agendas such as increasing employee productivity at the top of IT’s to-do list. Yet the ROI of an innovation and IT transformation agenda can be far bigger, with data, such as this from Watermark, showing organizations that innovate in customer experience (CX) outperform the S&P 500 by 35%, while laggards trail by 45%.
It’s time to shift priorities towards digital innovation
At a recent conference, a speaker said the formula for business success is A) picking the right technologies that have a positive impact on your customer experience and B) implementing them faster than your competition.
I couldn’t agree more. That said, there’s no better time than the present to put innovation and digital transformation on the IT agenda, and to get moving, you need to start to shift. Shift to the cloud, shift resources to innovation and shift to vendors that become partners in enabling your transformation. Make the time for shifts like that now and there are no limits to where you can go from there.
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