Joint Innovation - its all about partnership, pro-activity and process
As usual I've been engaged in a number of activities over the last few weeks at a number of different levels - including:
- Driving innovation and related activities with specific IBM outsourcing clients - the main part of the day job for myself and my team
- Cross client activities - including running the sixth (and so far highest rated) Technology Innovation Exchange event with our clients
- "External" activities - including chairing the UK National Outsourcing Association group on Innovation and taking part in a video debate for Outsource Magazine (which was interesting to say the least...)
In each of these the same three themes seem to recur... I mentioned these briefly in my previous blog about engaging clients on innovation but think its worth discussing them in a little more detail here.
1. The Power of Partnership
I firmly believe that innovation with a partner, and perhaps particularly in an outsourcing relationship, isn't something that gets done to you - its something that you need to do together. Both partners need to be committed to make it work and when they are the results can be fantastic.
IBM (as it does) has just carried out a large scale survey around sourcing motivations. Its no surprise that cost and efficiency remain the most important client driver but an interesting pattern emerged in the analysis. A significant number of organisations also focus on getting wider business value and innovation out of their sourcing relationships - and those who do this have significantly better financial business results than those who focus purely on cost alone.
You can read more yourself here: http://www.ibm.com/smarterplanet/us/en/centerforappliedinsights/article/sourcing.html
The key findings of this report - plus some of the disruptive changes to the industry caused by cloud and other key technology trends such as mobile and consumerisation within the enterprise also formed the basis of much of the video debate with Outsource Magazine - I'll post a link to this once available online. There was also a lot more discussed including moving to business outcome type arrangements but that's for a future blog perhaps.
All this change though drives - or at least should drive - innovation which leads us nicely onto the next point...
2. Pro-activity, Pro-activity, Pro-activity (and Procurement)
At the UK National Outsourcing Association Innovation group meeting I chaired recently, I facilitated a debate between a group of outsourcing suppliers, end users and third party advisers on challenges to innovation in outsourcing. The key item of both parties being pro-active - the supplier finding out what is important to the client and the client being pro-active in helping them do this - came up as expected.
What I did not expect was the almost unanimous feedback that for many organisations there also needs to be a change to Procurement functions to focus on wider business value and enable innovation rather than purely cost. The strength of feeling on this - especially from client attendees surprised me - and the key take away for the NOA was that the next session needs to focus on making Procurement an enabler to innovation in outsourcing.
Of course this resonates well with the Partnership message and the results of the IBM survey above.
3. Process (to Fast Track from Discussion to Delivery)
Innovation process? Isn't that an oxymoron like... (as this is an open forum I won't use the examples I use in person)...
But no I don't mean the process to come up with ideas - and in my experience there is usually no shortage of ideas and challenges and opportunities to focus on - but the process to take an idea and turn it into something tangible that delivers value.
Specifically in the context of my job and this blog I mean the joint innovation management process between a supplier and client to move from a nice innovation discussion, workshop or demo to something that adds real value to the client (and yes in the long run lets be honest business for the supplier). That something could be an improvement to the existing core service or a wider innovation for the client's organisation.
Technology Innovation Exchange Events...
The above themes also resonated at our latest cross client Technology Innovation Exchange day These events are also about engaging our clients on key areas and encouraging them to network with IBM subject matter experts (the development and delivery experts not the sales teams) and their peers.
As usual at the latest event we presented, demoed, debated and discussed a series of key technology and innovation trends with our clients. These included discussion on practical experience of migrating to cloud, what organisations across a range of industries are doing to adopt mobile for B2C and B2E, a series of speed dating style technology demos and finally a great debate on the IBM sourcing paper and the Power of Partnership. Many thanks to clients and IBMers who attended - and rated it our best event yet.
These events work by focusing on the themes above - driving partnership behaviours, being pro-active and focusing on what is important to our clients and driving the first stages of the process to move from discussion to delivery... so a nice way to end.
And yes - planning has already started for the next event - October 10th in London South Bank - mark the date now.