There is always a tug-of-war between the Line of Business and IT departments. The LOB has a long list of projects for IT and the IT teams have limited bandwidth and resources. Does this story sound familiar?
Are you also challenged to bring about innovation to the forefront when there are burning issues to keep the lights on with your IT staff? The answer seems to lie in a team dedicated to Innovation.
Let us take a look at what successful non-technology companies are doing to bring tech innovation to their enterprises and hence, differentiating themselves far ahead of their competitors.
Case Study 1: Lowes Innovation Labs
When you think of innovation, have you ever imagined your local hardware store to be the first? Lowes has busted that myth by presenting the first in-store robotthat helps you locate any hardware part that you are looking for. They are also the first to introduce the Holoroom, where customers can visualize their designs using virtual and augmented reality. According to their chief of innovation, Kyle Nel, “while 99% of the company focuses on their daily routine, a small innovation team works with some partners to bring about these exponentially changing elements”.
Case Study 2: Banks – Capital one labs, Citi and Visa Labs
When it comes to innovation labs, the banks and financial institutions are a little behind Lowes. Their initiatives focus on incremental digital change rather than major disruptive and transformational technologies. Most of them are releasing better user interfaces on their tablet and mobile apps for the consumers. But, there has been an increased technology focus on their business clients.
For example, U.S. Bancorp earlier this year added "virtual cards" to its mobile corporate payments app, as a way to limit the number of physical cards it issues to employees.
Digital corporate payments can be more easily tracked and can be linked to an expense management system, eliminating the tediousness of expense reporting.said Dominic Venturo, chief innovation officer for this Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp.
Case Study 3: UNICEF Innovation Labs
If you thought only commercial organizations are investing in innovation, UNICEF proves us wrong. It’s innovation initiative has been running for the last couple of years but this year they triggered impact investment of $9 million towards startups that focus on empowering young people with technology. A successful example has been eLearning Sudan that helps nearly 2 million primary- school aged children in Sudan who have no access to education.They adopt a philosophy of rapid change “90 percent of our stuff fails, but that's okay. We just want it to fail quickly." says Chris Fabian, co-leader of the UNICEF Innovation Unit.
Case Study 4: Real estate Westfield Corp
Real estate has been a traditional business but we will take a look at how one established company, Westfield corp. is innovating to not only be financially successful but also attract millennials to their space. With the help of Westfield Labs, they recently announced one of their major new initiatives, Bespoke. Bespoke is an open-concept office space available inside a San Francisco mall. It also has a cool demo stage and a business theatre, which is very attractive to those who want to mix a little fun with work. They have also embraced technology by introducing innovative apps that allow Wifi and GPS tracking to enable easy parking for customers. Their apps also allow customers to buy something while at the mall and have it delivered at home and last of all, their “Dine on Time” app that allows for reservations at restaurants within their center or scheduling a pick-time.
Case Study 5: GE
I would not do justice if I do not mention one of the most admired companies in the world, GE. It is amazing that GE always manages to be at the forefront of innovation for the last 125 years. Their method of innovation involves their employees becoming intrapreneurs (entrepreneurs within their organization). GE Fast Works is the program where employees can take innovative ideas and pitch to their executives. They are then awarded funding to implement it in a 90-day sprint. Since starting the Fast Works, GE has seen increased productivity, product innovation as well as attracting millennials, who would get the same job satisfaction as working for a startup.
The success factors of these innovation centers are many. The four main critical factors are presented below.
Conclusion: There are ample examples of innovation in large enterprises that you can learn from. You can also look at your industry trends and see how you can disrupt your competition. If you are thinking about Innovation in your organization, it is not too late. Now or never should be your motto.