Innovation_Thought_Leader

During the first week of February, the BlueCallom team brought innovation leaders worldwide together at the BlueCallom virtual Innovation Thought Leader Circle event. The Innovation Thought Leader Circle series provides a space where a select group of innovation professionals comes together virtually to share best practices, insights around innovation management, and advanced learning in innovation. 

To generate knowledge and share interesting perspectives around innovation in 2021, we invite you to get insights from this lively innovation circle around innovating during a pandemic, overcoming external challenges in this “New Normal,” and supporting innovation culture to prepare for future shifts in the business landscape. 

Entering into a State of Innovation in the New Normal

Technological advancements and digitization are not necessarily enough to transform an entire industry, but the innovative business models that introduce the technology are disruptive. We’ve witnessed how companies have innovated their business models, products, services, and customer interaction techniques during the global pandemic. Innovation is more critical than ever, or as Kevin Minier says, the current status quo is now entering into a “state of innovation”. 

Adapting to the “New Normal” will determine which companies simply survive and which companies thrive. How will innovation look in a post-pandemic world? As pointed out by Robert Cloughtery, companies should expand their innovation vision from short-term fixes to long-term business model innovation.

For example, Hussein Dajani, General Manager of Digital and CX Transformation for Nissan Motor Co. in Africa, Middle East, India, Turkey, and Oceana, discussed how customer experience transformation had been a crucial strategy to meeting customers’ “where they are” in today’s landscape: in their homes (due to lockdowns). “Innovation, I believe, boils down from empathy, from really listening to your customers, seeing what their real needs are, and being able to deliver on that innovatively,” says Dajani.

Shirin Kurtuldu also contributed excellent knowledge on how to capture customer-driven ideas by running a Voice of Customer program and asking your own customers what they want, what kind of innovation they are missing.  

Corporate Innovation is Key 

However, innovating strategically for the long-term in an established enterprise can be difficult, considering bureaucratic measures, regulatory barriers, and risk-averse structures that hold big companies back from implementing transformational changes.

As Hussein Dajani points out, big firms often think from a place of “revenue, dollar signs, and immediate profit,” making short-term approaches more feasible to execute. The focus on short-term profit is a signal that a company is not as forward-thinking as it should be to innovate and gain a competitive advantage over time. The company’s mindset is another key factor.

Axel Schultze, CEO and Founder of BlueCallom, says, “the culture shift from a non-innovative company to an innovative company is a massive change…it’s a significant change in mindset.” The question then becomes, how to create a culture of innovation? Facilitating a culture in which accepting “failing fast is such a key technique to helping with innovation,” says Tony Namulo.

Regardless of whether a company adopts a ‘freedom to fail’ attitude or not, half the battle is pushing a great idea from concept to creation and convincing others of its merit. Circle attendee André Lüscher says, “for every idea, you need someone to convince other people that this idea is great.” An idea won’t make it past the gatekeepers and bookkeepers at each milestone check-in without a product or service champion supporting the idea along the journey to development and commercialization. 

Turn the Pandemic into an Innovation Opportunity 

Due to the pandemic, the nature of work changed. Teams work together in an online and remote capacity. Pointed out by Mikel Mangold, “all this international collaboration that is going on right now is incredible” and is requiring innovation around online collaboration tools to make remote work accessible and productive.

Aside from virtual collaboration, remote work also enables the ability to reach a broader audience. Furthermore, companies can find talents across the global stage. A lot of companies are going to be considering “the global talent pool, in terms of being able to increase the pace of innovation within companies,” says Tony Namulo. Thus, a silver lining to the pandemic is new value creation through the various opportunities presented.

But not only are digital work tools in demand, but digital lifestyle tools are also increasingly important. For example, gyms and the fitness industry are undergoing a moment of reckoning as digital fitness services adapt to meet our new needs, as Laurent Guinand discussed.

The business of education is another industry in a moment of upheaval as online education has been thrown into the spotlight, and online education platforms’ successes might even indicate that online education is the future. Axel Schultze says that “the education system has followed the needs of the industry,” and with changing industries across all sectors, the future is in the hands of the innovators and creative minds. In this way, ‘timing,’ in addition to ‘need’ and ‘technology available’ can be considered the keys to building a successful innovation, as deemed  Tony Namulo. 

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