Tag Archives: Collaboration

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

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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Filed under Business, Crowdsourcing, Innovation

Interaction for Innovation Success

Here is another guest blog from Henra Mayer at Innocentrix

65% of the over 700 senior executives that were surveyed in a McKinsey Quaterly report entitled: “Competitive Advantage From Better Interactions” stated that they are disappointed with their enterprise’s ability to stimulate innovation.

Organisations are increasingly realising that innovation is not something that only needs to be mentioned in vision statements. It is a reality that needs to be implemented. Recent indications of another global recession is emphasising the importance of innovation once again. The market does not wait for those who are still trying to figure out the what and how of innovation management – but what are organisations doing to stay relevant, be sustainable?

Truth is, once the innovation strategy is written, the awareness creation plan approved and the idea management platform is procured, people tend to sit back and wait for the magic to happen. An ideation platform and strategic innovation planning alone are not going to deliver innovation results. People will, strategic planning for execution and focusing innovation efforts and direction will. But herein lays the challenge. The following issues or lack thereof are often stated as (at least some) of the reasons for innovation failure:

  • Soliciting quality ideas;
  • Engaging the organisation enough to ensure that the idea management platform deliver the desired results;
  • Finding the experts and resources to take new ideas through to implementation;
  • Effectively managing the stage gate process to speed up idea implementation – avoiding countless evaluation committees and board decisions for ideas to progress;
  • Addressing innovation reward and recognition effectively
  • Demonstrating progress, value and success (measurement);
  • Addressing collaboration and interaction
  • Successfully tracking ROI and project implementation
  • Leadership and alignment of innovation focus with organisational goals

Some of the above issues are being addressed lately by means of crowdsourcing – it assists with surfacing good ideas and it solicits collaboration. Gamification is another concept that is being exploited in the context of innovation management. It is used to engage people to participate in innovation efforts, while it supports the integration of the organisation’s innovation eco-system in order to capitalise upon the knowledge of customers, suppliers, industry bodies and the like. Still, are interaction and co-creation valued in the innovation process? Some of the findings published in the report by McKinsey I referred to above state that:

  • Wherever groups of people collaborate to solve problems—in the field, the supply chain, operations, marketing—innovations are more likely to occur at the front lines of interaction than at the corporate center;
  • A company can boost the number and quality of the interactions likely to promote innovation if it creates the conditions that allow them to emerge;
  • Successful companies include mechanisms and approaches that allow a portfolio of initiatives to emerge from internal and external interactions;
  • To encourage more interaction, innovation, and collaboration, companies must become more porous by continuing to break down barriers to interactions—barriers such as hierarchies and organisational silos;
  • Technologies and tools will promote the collaborative and dynamic pursuit, capture, and sharing of knowledge and will allow for more video, audio, and graphics to facilitate remote interactions and broader access to scarce expertise.

Have you thought about how you interact  in support of innovation lately?

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.

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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Filed under Business, Collaboration, Crowdsourcing, Innovation

Innovation may be the way to avoid a double dip recession

As the world watches markets nervously, Standard and Poor’s has just downgraded America’s rating and Central Banks look like they may need to intervene, we need to give some thought as to how the world needs to change in the future.

There are some structural changes in the global economy and what has worked in the past will not necessarily work in the future.

In 2008, when the global economy wobbled, many companies reacted by taking the costs out of their operations. They downsized and scaled back, very often just battening down the hatches. Now, much leaner, they don’t have the luxury of further cost cutting and they are looking for other alternatives.

Innovation which can be defined as an idea, which realised, brings value to the market, is a way of competing successfully in the fast changing world around us. The impending economic slowdown is just such a change. The companies which emerge successfully on the other side are going to be those which have embraced innovation to find new markets, new products, improved processes and better ways to get the most out of their employees.

With the advent of social media innovation is no longer the prerogative of the ivory tower or the R&D department. It is up to everyone in the organisation to identify opportunities to improve the way the organisation works and to innovate and collaborate at scale.

Those companies which are the most innovative are the best prepared to meet the new world order. We are seeing a lot of large corporates equipping their employees to innovate and it is going to be interesting to see what happens and who comes out first and who is left behind. Either way, we can expect to see big changes in the way companies compete in the future.

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

We have partnered with Innocentrix to bring Spigit Innovation software into this country.

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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Filed under Business, Collaboration, Crowdsourcing, Enterprise 2.0, Innovation

Collaboration for competitive advantage

As many organisations are rolling out enterprise platforms with social media tools like SharePoint 2010 or Spigit Innovation software, they need to look at their ability to optimise collaboration to unlock the power within their knowledge workers.

Collaboration is working together to achieve a goal. Many organisations who are exploring the use of social media tools seem to regard collaboration as limited to comments, votes and “likes”. Rather, it needs to be a coordinated effort to reach stated goals.

Collaboration is a repetitive process where people and/or organisations work together to realise shared goals. These goals could be the deployment of a project, development of an innovation or putting together a proposal. This is a deep, collective, determination to reach an identical objective.

Organisations need to look at their collaboration processes, who should be involved, what the goals are and what information people need in order to ensure that they get the best results.

Up until now we haven’t had the wherewithal to collaborate at scale. Time and geography have often impeded robust collaboration. With the advent of social media and increased quality of data and enterprise technology with social media capabilities, we now have the ability to maximise the collective brain power of our employees.

There are a number of considerations when we embark on collaboration in large enterprises:

– What is the goal we intend to achieve?

– Who is going to lead the collaboration initiative?

– What are the impediments to collaboration? These could include

Access to information and knowledge

Culture and siloed thinking

Anti-collaborative processes, such as corporate governance or policies

– What are the tools we need for collaboration?

Do we need real world space, like boardrooms?

Will other social media tools, like IM, likes, ranks and posts enhance collaboration?

Enterprise platforms can push or recommend information to the users based on the project or the user profile or similar information that has been accessed in the past.

What templates can we develop to enhance collaboration

– Which skills and experiences should be co-opted onto collaborative projects? These could include:

Analytical

Project

Decision

Networking and Negotiation

Industry

Technical

Professional etc.

But of course collaboration is not a panacea for improving how organisations function. Many processes and job functions are repetitive and transactional and require no collaboration at all. Rather, collaborative behaviour will impede the smooth functioning of the organisation. However, it is clear that teams that work collaboratively obtain greater resources, recognition and reward when facing competition for finite resources.

It is time that organisations started exercising the collaborative muscle to take on the ever changing market.

Hansen, Morten T “Collaboration” 2009 Harvard Business Press

McKinseys

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

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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Filed under Business, Collaboration, Crowdsourcing, Digital Communities, Enterprise 2.0, Innovation

Configuring your business for Innovation

Albert Einstein once said “Innovation is not the product of logical thought, although the result is tied to logical structure.”

In the modern world, unless we are happy being a commodity, Innovation is our main source of competitive advantage – doing things better, more quickly and more cost effectively than our competitors. So how do we gear ourselves up for Innovation?

Organisations are ecosystems where everything impacts everything. Depending on where the organisation wishes to go (its strategic direction) it will put together people, processes, technologies and information to get there.

If the goal is to compete using Innovation it needs to put the people, processes, technologies and information in place to ensure that it is better at innovating than its competitors.

There are many types of Innovation.

Probably the best known and the start of most Innovation projects is Product Innovation – looking for new products for the market.

Market Innovation refers to looking for new markets for existing products. A good example of this is blue ocean strategy where new uses and therefore new markets are found by tweaking existing products as SWATCH did when they repositioned their wrist watch as a fashion icon and started competing in the fashion market.

Process Innovation is also popular, when organisations look for better or cheaper ways to do the same thing.

Business Model Innovation is when a company moves from one way of driving revenue to another. Organisations may move from a straight forward sale environment to a value added services offering with annuity.

Modern innovation models include Management Innovation, where organisations have changed the way that they manage knowledge workers so that they get the most out of their creativity, knowledge, collaboration and Innovation skills.

When we create Innovation ecosystems we need to configure our people, processes, technologies and information to achieve product, process, market, business model and management innovation that helps us leap frog our competition and that requires logical thought and logical structure.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create business cases, digital strategies, user requirements and functional specifications (including taxonomies and metatdata) for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.

Digital Bridges has partnered with Innocentrix to bring Innovation solutions to the market which include a combination of people, process, technology and information gearing for Innovation. We are bringing Spigit software into South Africa and  Africa.  See this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=giptk7QCkXk

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.

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 Business, Enterprise 2.0, Innovation