Innovation and you – ideas come better together

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Why your IT service providers can – and should – play a crucial role as your partners in innovation

Innovation is a hot topic at the moment, as companies strive to gain an advantage or simply keep pace with the market. In general, IT is one of the fastest changing areas – with an endless stream of new players and offerings entering the market at a seemingly ever-increasing pace.

This is particularly true for IT, and therefore IT (and the ways in which you apply it) is a prime focus area for your pursuit of innovation. But the volume of existing options available – coupled with a wide array of emerging technologies and offerings – can make deciphering the details and how they can be applied a Herculean task.

Better together: innovation done “with you” – not innovation done “to you”

One solution is for companies to turn to their current IT service providers or engage new ones to help them sort the hype from reality and assist with the search for innovation opportunities. Just how fruitful this will prove to be will depend not only the service provider, but also a company’s approach to innovation – and its view of the service provider’s role in the process. Generally, a company’s program will fall somewhere on the following spectrum:

Innovation done to you

These are companies that are not focused on innovation and wait for service providers to bring them ideas for them to review. There is little or no sharing of information with service providers, so the ideas may or may not be aligned to the companies’ needs or strategic directions.

Innovation done for you

Here, companies realize that they need to innovate but lack the necessary resources or skills – and don’t have the time, means, or desire to build their own capabilities. They effectively outsource innovation – providing some information on their issues and needs – but ideation and execution are delegated to service providers. This should enable innovation to be better targeted and more aligned with the company’s needs. However, it will be constrained by what the company is aware of and what it is willing to share.

Innovation by you

In this instance, the control, creation, and execution of the innovation process is mainly performed by the company, with service providers having little or no involvement in idea formulation and development. However, they may be involved in the implementation of any ideas to be adopted. For companies that are able to commit the resources necessary for a robust innovation process, this approach enables innovation to be sharply focused on their needs and goals, but risks missing other opportunities that a wider outside view may identify.

Innovation done with you

This is a collaborative approach with both the company and the IT service provider being fully engaged in driving innovation. The company’s involvement includes sharing issues, needs, and strategic direction, along with contributing, evaluating, and refining ideas – and even participation in the development of Proof of Concepts (PoCs). The service provider brings in their technical expertise and familiarity with wider industry trends, and then proposes new ideas and conducts any necessary PoCs or evaluations.

Where a company falls on the above list can be shaped by a number of factors. Some are practical, such as an unavailability of resources to focus on innovation or their service provider’s breadth of expertise.   Others can be a company’s own culture. This could be a “not invented here” mentality in disregarding external ideas or the belief (perhaps from previous bad experiences) that providers are only looking to protect their existing services or sell more services – regardless of their client’s best interests.

Whatever the reason, moving towards a “with you” collaborative approach (for companies that are not already doing so) can yield substantial benefits due to the following:

  • Innovation does not have to come in major leaps: sharing more information about smaller pain points, issues, and goals can lead to smaller incremental innovations that can add up over time
  • Innovation is something that has to be worked at: ideas need to be generated, refined, and assessed. While business cases must be built and possible PoCs or product assessments must be completed. Most will not make it through to implementation, so the more ideas created, the better the chance you have of finding ones to implement
  • A diversity of viewpoints: combining detailed company knowledge with an “outside-looking-in” view and wider industry experience may lead to novel or additional ideas
  • An ability to sort the hype from reality: new technologies often reach the market before they are truly ready, or their real-world usefulness has been determined. Assessing these technologies may require skills and experience that a company does not currently possess.

True collaboration requires building trust between the company and their service providers. The company has to trust that service providers will not abuse sensitive information and will use it in their best interest. Similarly, service providers need to trust that a company is interested in building a strategic relationship, and feel free to share intellectual property and ideas – even if they will result in forgoing or reducing services in the short term.

Therefore, companies looking to leverage service providers in driving innovation should seek providers that they feel they can develop a strategic relationship with – and partners which have the needed breadth of knowledge and experience to help drive it forward.

ADMnext is with you

Capgemini’s ADMnext employs “with-you” innovation and brings a collaborative approach that includes built-in and supplementary innovation components. With ADMnext, core managed service offerings and tools are continuously evolved and rolled out to clients, and the identification and introduction of innovative ideas are built into the deals with assigned senior architects.

Innovation-focused components include Accelerated Solution Environment (ASE) workshops for rapid solutioning and consensus building, Applied Innovation Exchanges (AIEs), which are dedicated facilities and partner-network focused on solving client issues or new solutions, and Design Office, which helps you to create, manage, and report on your innovation journey.

In my next post, I’ll share how you can take advantage of these solutions and develop concrete innovation strategies, which you can rapidly apply to generate a steady stream of fresh ideas.

But in the meantime, to find out more about how we can help your business move faster along your future innovation journey, drop me a line here.

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