Aligning digital discovery with physical innovation outcomes.

New Technology Dawns 3We really do seem to be in a really evolutionary period, with the explosion of change taking place in the post-digital world of cloud, big data, social and interconnected devices.

The discovery of insights from all this embedded intelligence, social activity and data analytics is leading us to realize a potentially significant wave of new innovation opportunities from this digital knowledge.

The question is “are we internally ready for this?” Are our innovation systems and structures able to adapt to a need for exploiting ‘breaking’ opportunities where speed and agility becomes a critical deciding factor to capitalize on breaking commercial advantage by tapping into all these fresh insights?

Part three of a seven part series

It is through this combination of people and ‘things’ connecting into our businesses that we will be able to extract new data to give us insights that can lead to completely different innovation opportunities.

The concept of (big) data flowing in, discovery being made from all the analytical insights that leads to innovation does work for some but will it for many?

I tend to feel the hype or promise of digital technology is running ahead of the reality. There is no question that each organization has to work through this connecting of the digital technologies in their own understanding and needs, of what the whole gambit of IoT will bring them. That will be a set of tough calls, decided on thinking strategically, not just simply listening to all the ‘urgency and hype’ presented today.

Yet most organizations have to be careful that the idea of the digital promise does not run so far ahead of the realization of a ‘reasonable’ return for all the investment and potential disruptive that these changes will demand and bring. For some it requires a step process to feel their way, for others they will go for the big bang approach.

Each will disrupt and alter the way we conduct business. Either way, it is not just this ‘need to change’ it is looking very hard at the investment returns and risks associated with this. Managing any potential bigger innovation outcomes I would put down as a ‘risk and critical choke point’ that needs different solutions

I do really get stuck on the downstream from these data insights.

These insights will need to be turned into initial commercial ideas and potential ‘realisable’ concepts that can give new growth and value into the organization.

If we are expecting a deluge of new ideas to commercialization then is our innovation pipeline fit for this new level of purpose? I have serious doubts

Without doubt digital and physical operate at really different speeds.

Huge amounts of data can be interpreted through specific algorithms but these will have to have set very clear parameters set within them to be of any worth on what we believe is what we need.

We can go through the analysis and rely on the analysts understanding but will they actually have the necessary experience of what is useful and what is not? Or will that ‘analysis’ be turned over to the marketing team or research and developers, in its raw form and they become responsible for relating the data into something that might have some ‘tangible’ value. Will data scientists sit within these teams or in some remote centre that creates a new type of ‘knowledge’ void?

Through exploring this data, yielding their insights, can go through the internal innovation pipeline system that is presently in place? Are those tasked with turning insights into innovation have the different skills, authority and abilities to make ongoing data interpretation, where re-validation will become the constant ongoing norm.

How will they see different patterns and opportunities and try to fit these into their current view of the world? Can the innovation pipeline cope with even more business opportunities? The human mindset will need to re-orient to receive new digital information in ‘informing’ ways.

Are we seeing a re-run of the tortoise and the hare?

Digital happens at lightning speed, our physical world operates at a snail’s pace equivalent. So we want to push all these digital insights through a manual innovation process – yeah right! Expectations are rising, as dollars are being spent on re-equipping out IT systems to update with this range of digital technology, that the line of business is demanding, they are all arriving around at the same time.

The end game stakes are rising with every decision made or not yet is the organization ready to receive this deluge of digital technologies and be able to translate them into hard, quantifiable returns?

So where does the agile, shorter business cycles, faster innovation come into play. Really though our existing innovation systems, that are totally reliant on human interactions? How will the well set up stage gate systems of approval and validation cope? Digital technology is potentially fast, the human is still very slow in comparison. Is this a heading for a miss match or ways to build fusion differently?

I have written in the past “Innovation has layers that sheer against each other” where ““Slow constrains quick, slow controls quick” These unnatural built-in tensions build up and create this shearing effect. They grind against each other, like tectonic plates that force further disruption and upheaval.

The story of the tortoise and the hare is delightfully told here. “Once upon a time there was a hare who, boasting how he could run faster than anyone else, was forever teasing tortoise for its slowness……”

Technology is racing ahead like the hare, the reaction of our existing systems are a little like the tortoise. Technology will simply, under deliver on its promise and wait for our tortoise in systems, organizations ability to respond in radically different. more nimble and agile ways or simply go further downstream to help the tortoise along by making more of the innovating process automated.

Fragmentation is everywhere and different communities of interest are demanding real change

Then we have the emerging fragmentation of the channels to and from the customer. As we listen more intently we will need to develop not just our analyse, but our filtering and listening skills and each human has different levels of this tolerance to all arrive on the ‘same page’ of insight and potential opportunity.

All sorts of new communities start to ‘cloud’ the decision-making. Those coming from the marketplace, the devices being used, the evaluation of usage and value, the defining of different communities, the building of new business partner communities.

Then the whole thinking through on attempting to gain a new sense of engagement within your own workforce, convincing them that this time it will be all different. The disruption to their work will eventually deliver a different environment that is better, whereas they will be busy grappling with new skills, even faster paced work and yet again, will it settled down into quiet acceptance, limited engagement and enthusiasm?

As we ‘slice and dice’ even more through digital insights, markets will fragment even more, product and service have the potential of offerings more that can be tailored than ever, yet complexity in our offerings will dramatically rise. We need to find ways to structure and adapt to this, otherwise risks rise as mistakes are made, customers move away and not closer due to this lack of a comprehensive engagement strategy.

The question remains “so how significantly different will all of this be?”

What will we need to address? How bold and radical will this need to be and can whole organizations re-orientate and change their established ways to exploit digital technologies?

It will call for some fairly bold management decisions and a growing risk in undertaking but more than likely having a greater risk in not being well thought through and designed. Bolting this onto existing systems, many manual does not sound to even be a compromise, although I’m sure many will initially try to achieve, creating real operational problems.


***This is the third part of a seven part exploratory ‘open thinking’ about digital technology and its potential impact on innovation as we know it today. These will be published daily over the next week. The intent is not to offer definitive answers so much at this stage, it is more about raising our thinking.***


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