Innovation has joined the business language lexicon. But it has a wide range of meanings; from small incremental changes, to a customer proposition or business processes, to a full business transformation.
For many people, the idea of innovation can be challenging with many unknowns. And often the largest unknown will be what scale of investment is required to deliver guaranteed outcomes.
In a previous post we looked at the fast follower approach to innovation. In this post, Caroline Thomas, Data Revenue Consultant at News UK, and I look at how organisations are increasingly adopting innovation hubs to drive innovation.
Creating an innovation hub
Innovation is about creating a sustainable path to long-term growth. And establishing an innovation hub is one very valuable approach organisations can take as part of a business growth or transformation strategy. Particularly in situations where the need for change has been acknowledged but it’s unclear what the best course of action should be.
The term ‘Innovation Hub’ is used quite loosely, but broadly refers to a fluid space where an organisation can experiment with new, even radical ideas in the hope of inspiring change or new opportunities that could enhance their business.
Accenture has built innovation hubs in many of their global offices. Their hubs combine their leading technologies in a vibrant and collaborative environment, enabling companies to experience innovation through customised visits, design-thinking workshops and co-innovation workshops.
Bhaskar Ghosh, group chief executive of Accenture Technology Services said, “Technology enables organisations to drive competitive differentiation, transform customer experiences, create innovative business models and achieve breakthrough business results. At the Innovation Hub in Bengaluru, we are pioneering a shift in traditional technology strategy, development and delivery models to an approach that leverages ‘the New’ to help clients innovate more quickly.”
The FCA’s Innovation Hub, launched in May 2014, was set up to encourage innovation in financial products and services. It supports both new and established businesses to get their products off the ground by helping them to tackle the regulatory challenges involved.
How organisations can benefit
In today’s competitive landscape, understanding the art and science of innovation is imperative for businesses. But all too often the life is squeezed out of dynamic new ideas due to ‘forced’ collaborations designed to jump-start innovations, which often prove fruitless. Organisations need to bridge the gap between the fluid and often unpredictable art of creativity, and the refining and evaluating that is necessary to bring an idea to reality.
This is where innovation hubs can be of real value. They offer a safe environment where taking risks and pushing boundaries is encouraged. But they also give momentum and a structure for nurturing an initial idea into a tangible and robust solution.
An innovation hub also brings together multiple cross-functional teams who are able to create potentially disruptive solutions that may have otherwise not evolved.
Things to watch out for
For an innovation hub to succeed, it needs to be led by someone with the ability to drive a focus on creativity, priorities and outcomes. By someone who is able to turn innovations into impact.
The hub lead will also need to act as an interface with key stakeholders, and ensure the purpose and remit of the innovation hub are aligned with the organisation’s strategy and goals. This should be shared and understood across the whole organisation, especially amongst those involved in the innovation hub.
Whilst innovation will involve new processes and potentially new systems, employee engagement and business culture will be essential to successful innovation change. Initially, there may only be a small team involved in establishing and executing an innovation pipeline through an innovation hub, but for successful transformation, culture change within the organisation is a primary factor in success and should not be underestimated.
Ultimately, innovation should be embedded across the organisation. Everyone in the business should be considering how they can improve on the current portfolio or customer experience. While an innovation hub serves as a great platform for generating and shaping new innovative ways of working, it should be considered more as a way of initiating a change in culture and approach within an organisation rather than a long-term solution.