What does it mean to be innovative?
Innovation is sometimes described as a kind of ‘big bang’ conceptual beast which can scare a lot of people. In reality, innovation is actually about getting the right people, processes and technologies and merging them together. Unless you get the right balance of all three, you will have a failing ecosystem within your organisation.
In many ways, innovation can sometimes just be minor tweaks because at its heart, innovation is about creating more effective and efficient processes. It’s about revisiting things, looking at things a bit differently and taking a step back. Sometimes you can over-engineer a solution; there are often times when the best solution is to just create an MVP version of a service. It is difficult to get things right first time, so enhancements can be made with the users’ experience feeding into later versions of the MVP.
One of the most important factors in achieving successful innovation is fostering the right corporate culture; you need to remove any fears of failure because you can’t get things right every single time.
It’s a bit like a car journey. If you are going to the shops, you might have a predetermined path, but it doesn’t mean that you won’t meet some roadworks or a traffic jam, so you then need to refine your path – that is effectively the same thing for innovation.
How can data improve a customer experience?
Data is becoming increasingly valuable, although data in isolation has limited value. The value comes in when you combine many different data sources, enabling you to contextualise what you’re actually dealing with. It’s how you use the data and how you apply it to your circumstances that brings value.
Once you start to combine all this together, you can spot trends that you weren’t expecting and solve problems that you didn’t even know you had.
How do you achieve worthwhile data?
Achieving worthwhile data involves a great deal of data cleansing; you must accept that not all of your data is going to be great.
There will always be anomalies, outliers and noise in some of your data. That’s why when you’re joining up your data sources, you can start to contextualise that data and work out what is relevant.
What innovations will be beneficial in the future?
More than ever, we are living in a sensor-driven world, with each sensor generating a stream of data points, all of which can be aggregated and analysed to create different alerts, outlooks and insights.
Alongside sensors, you can add robotic process automation (RPA) to streamline relatively standardised processes. While some people worry that RPA can cause reductions in workforces, studies have found that it can result in an upskilling of the workforce, who can then become more engaged in other business processes. The business outcomes of RPA then evolve into more efficient processes further down the food chain because automation provides the time and the capacity to adapt and improve elsewhere.
What’s the future for digital transformation?
Digital transformation will mean different things for different people. Some use the term in relation to their journey to the cloud, some for channel shift, and others are even going as far as effectively eliminating the ability to handle a phone call. Overall, digital transformation will depend on the ethos of the business, how the business wants to apply its social values and how it wants to interact with the people who will really dictate its future.
Andrew McLaughlin is the managing director of Incline-IT.