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Innovation Games – change doesn’t always come with a bang

1 Mar 2023

Innovation isn’t something that can always be precisely defined. More often than not, it’s a small but game-changing step and having the courage to take them.

One of my roles at Capgemini has been the development of our Innovation Games over the last four years.

Innovation Games is an internal Capgemini competition in which our people nominate a project that has really made a difference through leveraging innovation. Its main purpose is to provide a showcase for the great work we do in devising creative solutions for our clients across the globe, so that we as an organization can learn from one another’s successes.

They also enable us to demonstrate that the Frictionless Enterprise is not just a digital principle, but something that delivers tangible financial and efficiency benefits. There are other benefits too, as you’ll see.

First, though, let’s look at the three awards categories. In the 2022 edition of the Games, we asked for the best projects having sales/revenue impact for our clients; for the best intelligent process automation (IPA) projects using data, AI, and analytics or robotics; and for the best projects delivering client outcomes.

Of course, the metrics for success were specific to each of these categories. For sales/revenue impact, success is quantifiable in numbers. For intelligent automation, the criteria were more qualitative – for instance, judging the extent to which productivity was boosted, and to which the customer or employee experience was improved. For client outcomes, key factors could be either quantitative (e.g., time-to-market, cashflow, or client retention improvements), or qualitative (e.g., service improvements).

Teamwork, communication, and networking

What are those other benefits I mentioned? I’ll highlight just three of them here.

The first is teamwork. Whereas for client projects, our people work together to achieve desired outcomes, for the Innovation Games, they need to work together in a different way. They aim to achieve a different purpose, which is principally one of communication. Our contenders find that the Games bring a new dimension to their notions of teamwork.

Which brings me to the second benefit – and that’s presentation skills. Delivering great results is one thing, but getting the message across about how it was done is a different proposition. That’s why we gave our contending teams coaching sessions in storytelling. The result has been that people emerge from the Games not just with a reward, but with a new skill, and I hope greater general confidence.

The third benefit I want to mention is networking. At the Innovation Games, it’s not just that we learn from one another’s successes. It’s that our contenders get to meet one another and make new connections, which help them either personally or professionally – or both. They also have the opportunity to meet senior people from Capgemini’s Business Services global business line, and in our experience, these encounters are rewarding for everyone involved.

Live! In person!

What made these three benefits so much more tangible in 2022 was that, with lockdown now behind us, we were able to host the Games as a live, in-person event, in Les Fontaines, France, with only four colleagues being obliged to join us down the line due to local restrictions or visa challenges. The production quality was of the highest standard, and our contenders – three finalist teams per category, and two people per team – were given a training day in advance of the full-day event, and were our guests at a gala dinner afterwards. Everyone who joined us was keen to participate once more next year.

Winning entries

Among the 2022 submissions, we saw digital humans – an incremental but significant step beyond chatbots. We also saw intelligent fraud detection – the ability for systems not just to spot anomalies in invoice submissions, but to distinguish between honest mistakes and genuine attempts to defraud.

In both cases, the difference may seem small; but in the first, the improvement in personal connection that can be made is significant; and in the second, the tone is completely altered. What may have been accusatory and guilt-inducing by default – “did you try to cheat us?” – becomes collegiate and conciliatory – “it looks like you slipped up here. Let’s fix this.”

Case study #1: agri-tech
Company: specialist in agricultural science and technology
Challenge: this organization had diverse processes, with multiple business units operating in siloes. HR platforms, in particular, were high-maintenance, and gave low levels of self-service and workforce analytics
Solution: a new, unified HR system covering the full employee lifecycle and payroll processes for all business units
Outcome: digital, agile, and unified HR ecosystem, harmonized and efficient HR processes, enhanced employee experience, reduced HR operations costs, and workforce analytics for planning purposes.

Case study #2: logistics
Company: multinational provider of delivery and other business services
Challenge: this business had a siloed approach with many manual transactions
Solution: a digital transformation and automation initiative on a global scale: one team and a single way of working across the organization
Outcome: total savings of $40 million, across cash apps, disputes, billing, collections, and master data.

Case study #3: healthcare
Company: multinational healthcare company
Challenge: this organization needed to provide fulfilling customer experiences on a scale beyond the scope of conventional human help
Solution: the digital nurse, Elina, performs the check-in of patients. She gives them the information and support they need, with lifelike conversations, facial expressions, body language, empathy, and tone of voice
Outcome: patients benefit from sympathetic and responsive access, anytime, anywhere, with immediate access to crucial information regarding their therapy. Healthcare professionals benefit from better understanding of patient conditions, physical and mental requirements, and have more time for interactions with patients in need.

Case study #4: FMCG
Company: multinational consumer goods company
Challenge: the business had complicated legacy processes. Silos between sales, finance, and supply chain organizations were leading to longer order processing times and slower time-to-market deliveries. Too much time was being spent on operations, and too little focusing on growth or on customers.
Solution: a new integrated approach to operations enables information to flow seamlessly between people and processes, intelligently, and as and when it is needed.
Outcome: total savings of over €20 million in overdue claims, accounts receivable, and operational costs, as well as better experiences for customers and employees.

Key takeaway?

What did we learn about the nature of innovation from the 2022 contest? To my mind, the main lesson has been that’s it’s not a word that can be precisely defined.

Too often, I suppose, we think of innovation as a major leap forward – from handwritten transcriptions to the printing press, from horse-drawn vehicles to the combustion engine. But sometimes, that’s not the case. Sometimes, it’s a small but game-changing step.

As I say, these are small but significant steps – and what distinguishes the cases I’ve summarized above is that we and our clients had the courage to take them.

I’m really excited about the 2023 edition of Innovation Games we’re currently planning, and even more excited to learn how our teams have been driving innovation for our clients.

To learn how Capgemini delivers innovation for its clients, across finance and accounting, supply chain management, HR, customer operations, and financial services, contact:


Manuel Sevilla

Expert in Business Information Management