2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,800 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Quick executive training course on social media and personal branding

We have had numerous requests from some very large corporate clients, for a quick, executive training programme, for their senior management. They asked us to provide them with some insights into great social media and personal branding and why it is important to them and their company.

It would seem that social media is starting to become more main stream in large corporates in South Africa and so we have now put together a short session to help executives understand this important subject.

It is designed to take the minimum time out of their busy diaries. I facilitate a one hour interactive presentation in which we examine these issues as they pertain specifically to them.

The course is customised for your company and your industry.

We also spend some time looking at some of the individuals’ own on line activities which they seem to enjoy.

For more info, or to book a session for your senior management, please mail me on katee@digitalbridges.co.za

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the innovation and , social media and enterprise technology. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and communication.

Digital Bridges has recognised the changes to the business environment, brought about by enterprise technologies like SharePoint 2010, social media and gamification and is focussed on this.

We partner with great technology companies in order to ensure that our solutions are fit for purpose and deliver on organisational strategy.

We have also partnered with Innocentrix to bring Spigit Innovation software into this country. Spigit is an innovation platform built either in JAVA or native to SharePoint 2010. It uses social business and game mechanics to enable organisations to innovate at scale.

Digital Bridges relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia. Her skills include innovation and growth through marketing, communication, innovation, collaboration, knowledge management, human capital, performance management, process engineering and BI.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit http://www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za.

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Filed under Business, Facebook, Personal Branding, Social media

Kick start innovation in your company

Next trends in Innovation

Are you tasked with Innovation in your company but don’t know where to begin? Do you find that you are battling to get support from senior management because their attention is absorbed in their day-to-day duties? Are the executives unwilling to invest in innovation because it has failed in the past or it is too intangible to measure?

If you are facing these challenges, you are not alone. In a recent survey we did on the state of innovation in South African companies, we found that these were some of the most common challenges. So how do you get something as fuzzy as innovation onto your EXCO’s agenda? We suggest that you look for some tangible opportunities which you can present to them and get their buy-in. You need a programme to kick start innovation.

The kick start programme for innovation identifies the opportunities for companies to innovate themselves into the future and takes a systemic approach to understanding the impact and investment required to make the innovation successful.

Most innovation programmes concentrate on one of two things:

  •  Equipping people to be more innovative by providing systems, designing innovation processes, creativity training, cultural interventions and defining measurement etc. or
  • Driving specific innovation through campaigns designed to achieve general or specific objectives. Generally these campaigns are reward driven based on soliciting the greatest number of ideas. More sophisticated companies employ mechanisms to reward the quality of ideas.

The kick start programme is a hybrid of these two. We look for opportunities to realise value from innovation while providing insight into the innovation process which the participants can learn from and use in future planning.

Evidence suggests that companies which proactively and deliberately design their future are significantly superior performers in the long term. Superior performance is almost never about the amount of money spent. Booz Allen Hamilton found there is almost no relationship at all between spending on innovation and superior financial returns. What they did discover, was that those companies with a deliberate innovation process with links to corporate strategy and customer needs – achieved up to 40% higher growth in their operating income as a result. – James Gardner. Your kick start programme we will help you to identify deliberate innovation processes related to specific opportunities.

The approach is very practical aimed at realising early wins from innovation, whilst also raising the understanding the innovation landscape and identifying opportunities.

The main objective is to create strategic alignment, identify main points of impact and develop a portfolio for innovation that directs planning in the future.

In any innovation project, it is essential to create a shared mental model between all the stakeholders. This forms the background of any innovation strategy and unlocking opportunities. It consists of the rigorous examination of all parts of the company or division to see how they hang together.

Then we examine modern trends which are impacting on the organisation, the business’ objectives and opportunities arising from these trends, the stakeholders, skill sets, structures, markets, business structures, processes as well as the network of suppliers and partners and the customer environment. Then we examine at every point, what the opportunities are to innovate to:

  •        Increase productivity at lower costs;
  •        Increase competitiveness in a global market place; and
  •        Develop and improve on products and services
  •        Open up future markets.

The outcomes of a kick off programme should include:

  •        Defining the meaning of innovation for your company;
  •        Designing a basic innovation portfolio:
  •        Defining core innovation focus areas, incremental vs. radical innovation, risk management, innovation funding etc.
  •        Identify the key innovation objectives to be achieved;
  •        Developing basic next-steps plans to develop the ideas and take them to fruition;
  •        An indication of how innovation success will be measured; and
  •        Innovation recognition mechanisms and provide basic guidelines in this regard.

From this programme you should be in a position to present the business case for innovation including tangible outcomes of your innovation. This will help you to manage your executive’s expectation and get their commitment to innovation as a critical part of your company’s competitive advantage in the future.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of innovation and technology. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication.

Digital Bridges has recognised the changes to the business environment, brought about by enterprise technologies like SharePoint 2010, social media and gamification and is focussed on this.

We partner with great technology companies in order to ensure that our solutions are fit for purpose and deliver on organisational strategy.

We have also partnered with Innocentrix to bring Spigit Innovation software into this country. Spigit is an innovation platform built either in JAVA or native to SharePoint 2010. It uses social business and game mechanics to enable organisations to innovate at scale.

We offer Innovation services to grow organisations and equip them for change. This includes Innovation strategies, culture interventions, measurement tools and campaign development to release the power of Innovation.

Digital Bridges relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia. Her skills include innovation and growth through marketing, communication, innovation, collaboration, knowledge management, human capital, performance management, process engineering and BI.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit http://www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za.

 

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Is the next Steve Jobs in your company?

As the world hears with sadness of the passing of one of the greatest innovators on earth, Steve Jobs, Sir Alan Sugar reminds us that Apple’s success is due to a number of inventors and designers within the company.

In an interview on Sky news, Sir Alan talked about the number of people within Apple who were responsible for the impressive range of products which have changed the way we communicate and engage with the world.

Apple’s success is not purely attributable to Steve Jobs’ vision, but also in part to the innovative culture which he created. He recognised that Innovation is key to Apple’s competitive advantage and the entire organisation is designed to support and foster innovation.

Many organisations recognise that Innovation is an integral part of their future survival, but are so risk averse that they are not prepared to experiment, nor are they designed to foster Innovation. Rather they are so involved with the day to day operational running that Innovation is an add on.

Employees are a great source of ideas. Very often they are in a better position to spot opportunities from their vantage point, serving customers or as users of your products and services. These ideas may not be radical, the equivalent to an iDevice, but could be incremental improvements which change the way we compete. We need to find better ways to listen to them.

Steve Jobs was a visionary and creative genius, but he surrounded himself with great people who also had great ideas, his genius was also in communicating with and listening to them.

RIP Steve Jobs, you changed the world.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the innovation and technology. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication.

Digital Bridges has recognised the changes to the business environment, brought about by enterprise technologies like SharePoint 2010, social media and gamification and is focussed on this.

We partner with great technology companies in order to ensure that our solutions are fit for purpose and deliver on organisational strategy.

We have also partnered with Innocentrix to bring Spigit Innovation software into this country. We offer Innovation services to grow organisations and equip them for change. This includes Innovation strategies, culture interventions, measurement tools and campaign development to release the power of Innovation.

Digital Bridges relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia. Her skills include innovation and growth through marketing, communication, innovation, collaboration, knowledge management, human capital, performance management, process engineering and BI.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit http://www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za.

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Filed under Business, Enterprise 2.0, Innovation

So where is your next game-changing idea going to come from?

History shows us that some of the most advanced inventions and Innovation came about in periods of economic crisis.   We are in a world of turmoil and need to think about how we are responding to change.

Most companies are realising that Innovation is key to future survival, but how do they make sure that they get the best ideas?

It used to be that great ideas were the preserve of R&D or developed in strategy sessions by senior management. These days with the development of technology, we have many more Innovation resources at hand in the form of our employees.

Lots of companies are recognising this and putting mechanisms in place to solicit ideas from employees. They are running electronic suggestion boxes on their Intranets, putting Innovation into people’s KPI’s, employing Innovation managers and running campaigns which reward the best ideas.

But these Innovation activities are still nascent. Innovation needs to become integral to how organisations function in the future. While strategy still plays an important role in Innovation, we need to foster a culture of operational innovation. How do we make Innovation part of everything we do?

Every employee brings Innovation opportunity to the work place. A manager who is also a mum could recognise another use for your products in the baby care market. The techie whose parents still live in the township could identify a better route to serving this market. A rep who is on the road could identify a mobile app that saves time for motorists. Whatever it is, you want to be able to capture these ideas.

But beyond capturing these ideas, you also want to improve on the quality of the idea. After all, we all know that ideas are just ideas; Innovation has only occurred when they are implemented and realise value.

The aim, therefore, is to mature the most viable ideas and this is where most Innovation activities and technologies fall short of the mark. Different people across the organisation bring different perspectives, experiences and knowledge which will enhance the value of the idea.

We need better mechanisms for identifying and improving the best ideas and the current Innovation-committee-who-meet-once-a-month, system is inadequate and time consuming. Once again we turn to our employees to improve the system. We can get them to vote, collaborate and improve on the ideas.

This all sounds time consuming and resource intensive, which is why most organisations don’t do it. Enter the modern interactive Intranet. Social media, or social business (as we prefer to call it) and gamification are making this challenge disappear.

“Game mechanics are rule based systems that facilitate and encourage a user to explore and learn the properties of their possibility space through the use of feedback mechanisms.”1

Social business tools include “likes”, “comments” and “share” etc. They are designed to foster employee interaction and engagement.

These tools make the process of employee collaboration easier and most importantly enjoyable.

Some of the latest Innovation technologies are using crude game mechanics such as “liking”, but the most sophisticated systems are using crowd sourcing and other reward mechanisms to get employees to work together to improve and build ideas. We see idea trading, recognition of contributions and other mechanisms like leader boards and ranking for employees to build their personal brands within the organisation. This not only rewards the idea, but also engages employees and makes the process of Innovation enjoyable.

As these technologies become ubiquitous in the organisation and all employees start having access to the system, we will start to see more and more great contributions.

So where is your next big idea going to come from? Could it be from the edge of the organisation and nurtured by people from everywhere?

1 “Theory of Fun for Game Design” Raph Koster

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the innovation and technology. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication.

Digital Bridges has recognised the changes to the enterprise environment, brought about by enterprise technologies like SharePoint 2010, social media and gamification and is focussed on this. We partner with great technology companies in order to ensure that our solutions are fit for purpose and deliver on organisational strategy.

We have also partnered with Innocentrix to bring Spigit Innovation software into this country. We offer Innovation services to grow organisations and equip them for change. This includes Innovation strategies, culture interventions, measurement tools and campaign development to release the power of Innovation.

Digital Bridges relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia. Her skills include innovation and growth through marketing, communication, innovation, collaboration, knowledge management, human capital, performance management, process engineering and BI.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za.

 

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Filed under Collaboration, Crowdsourcing, Innovation, Interactive Intranets

Is your organisation designed to innovate?

Many organisations are recognising the need to innovate their futures; however they are designed to maintain the status quo.

In the 1990’s when large organisations were trying to take the fat out of their processes, they worked out how to do things more efficiently by standardising and automating their processes. This may have cut costs and instilled the governances required to mitigate risk, but it came at the cost of agility. This thinking was driven as a response to competition. The assumption was that if you could do the same thing, more efficiently or effectively, you could compete more effectively. With the introduction of ISO 9000 and many other governing structures into hierarchically designed organisations, command and control became the order to the day.

With globalisation, it was not only the local market that changed, but global supply and demand. The expansion of the Internet, technological advances and more demanding and sophisticated consumers has further transformed the competitive landscape. Competition now comes from the most unexpected places, new opportunities abound and standardisation has led to unintended consequences. Business models, rigid processes and organisational designs that responded to the way things were, are now simply irrelevant.

Organisations now employ Knowledge Workers and need to relook the way that they harness these collective brains to exploit these opportunities. Unfortunately many of them are so involved with operational issues which are entrenched in the ways organisations are designed, that Innovation is rarely afforded the attention it requires.

Lots of organisations are discussing the importance of Innovation, but they are simply not set up to be Innovative. For example, what does an employee, who serves customers, do with a great idea about how to improve the service? Do you know whether there are universal aggravations in service delivery, which could be solved by a service delivery technician’s bright idea? Is the next great product idea on the mind of an employee, employed in another division, who is also a customer of your business and uses your products every day? Do you have a culture which fosters and stimulates Innovative thinking? Do you have the tools to enable them to collaborate with each other to come up with and develop ideas?

Many companies have Innovation managers and programmes designed around getting ideas from their employees, but these are often an add-on to the already over loaded job descriptions. They are not integrated into the way employees work. A prize or acknowledgement of an idea once a year, or 5% of KPA’s might generate a lot of ideas, but are they quality ideas or just popular, poorly thought through rehashes of old ideas?

Innovation is not just about great ideas; it is about the successful implementation of those ideas. Is your organisation able to respond holistically to those ideas? Are your financial systems set up to be able to accommodate new business models? Are your sales teams equipped to sell into new markets? Can your HR team identify the new skills that you require and adjust the remuneration for them accordingly? Do you attract the brightest minds available?

Innovation and agility need to become part of the way the modern organisation conducts business or its days will be numbered.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the innovation and technology. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication.

Digital Bridges has recognised the changes to the enterprise environment, brought about by enterprise technologies like social media and SharePoint 2010 and is focussed on this. We partner with great technology companies in order to ensure that our solutions are fit for purpose and deliver on organisational strategy.

We have also partnered with Innocentrix to bring Spigit Innovation software into this country. We offer Innovation services to grow organisations and equip them for change. This includes Innovation strategies, culture interventions, measurement tools and campaign development to release the power of Innovation.

Digital Bridges relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia. Her skills include innovation and growth through marketing, communication, collaboration, knowledge management, human capital, performance management, process engineering and BI.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za.

 

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Why innovation is critical to the future of your company

Every business is trying to deal with change. Whether it is structural changes in the economy, the impacts of globalisation, a changing workforce, powerful social media or how to make the transition to a service based “knowledge economy”, where the consumers have the power, we have to adapt or become irrelevant.

In responding to these changes, success is dependent on the development of new products, services and ways of working to achieve sales, add value, improve customer satisfaction and develop an employment base dominated by high skilled, well paid knowledge-intensive jobs in the most effective way.

Innovation is also a powerful way of getting the most out of our employees. Most employees these days are employed for their minds and these should be harnessed for the benefit of the company. But regardless of whether they are knowledge workers or labour, they are also part of the community which our businesses serve. Many of our employees are also customer facing. As such they are often in a better position to spot opportunities than those people in the ivory tower who have been conditioned by past experiences of the way things used to work.

Innovation is absolutely essential to safeguard and deliver high-quality jobs, successful businesses, better products and services for our consumers, and new, more environmentally friendly processes. Innovation is about benefiting from the ideas that are new to our company.

Innovative ideas don’t necessarily have to be completely ground breaking. Nor do they have to be focused on new products. An innovation can be as radical or incremental as is necessary and can relate to our products or services or the way that we make and/or deliver them to customers.

Research tells us that innovative firms are twice as profitable (on average) than other firms (Managing Innovation by J. Tidd, J. Bessant, K. Pavitt, 2005), but innovation is becoming less and less of a luxury. The choice is to grow or disappear.

There are two ways to grow “either through mergers and acquisitions or through innovation” (“The New Organisation – A survey of the company”, The Economist, p.8, January 21st 2006).

While we are exposed to trends in the global economy, the bleak reality for South African companies is that our international competitors, especially in Europe and the U.S. are winning in the innovation stakes. However South Africa has some very specific conditions which are similar to other countries in the developing world. Large parts of our population have very low levels of education, extreme poverty is rife, Internet penetration is growing and infrastructure is failing, just to mention a few. We need to innovate for our unique conditions and then to export these Innovations to the rest of the world, where similar conditions prevail. The opportunity lies in developing more relevant products for our conditions and to look at how we price and deliver them to reach new markets. New business models and ways of managing people differently all spell out ways to improve our bottom line.

More and better innovation is essential for the survival of our companies and for our economy.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication.

Digital Bridges has recognised the changes to the enterprise environment, brought about by enterprise technologies like social media and SharePoint 2010 and is focussed on this. We partner with great technology companies in order to ensure that our solutions are fit for purpose and deliver on organisational strategy.

We have also partnered with Innocentrix to bring Spigit Innovation software into this country. We offer Innovation services to grow organisations and equip them for change.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia. Her skills include innovation and growth through marketing, communication, collaboration, knowledge management, human capital, performance management, process engineering and BI.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za.

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