IT innovation is one of the key features defining the modern world. Gross IT expenses worldwide continue to grow no matter what and are expected to grow further. Rates of inflation, geopolitical disruptions, talent shortages, COVID-19 – nothing seems able to tamper with this process:
Source: Gartner (April 2022)
Also, according to McKinsey, one of the world’s most trusted advisors and counselors to many of the most influential businesses and institutions around the globe, 84% of executives, the overwhelming majority, say their future success is dependent on digital innovation.
It is obvious that practically the whole world is seeking IT innovation and invests heavily in it. But there’s no surprise to it considering its numerous advantages to businesses.
Here at GP Solutions, we know a lot about innovation, as in the IT sphere, innovating means survival. There is no chance you can keep up a competitive edge here for a more or less extended period without constantly introducing new solutions, modern technologies, frameworks, databases, new original modules, etc.
Over the years, we’ve developed a few working recipes to stay innovative that we’d like to share. We hope these relatively simple tactics will help support innovation within your company.
Top management spearheads your business. They have the most talent and experience in every aspect – market knowledge, tech expertise, team management, business supporting processes, etc. These people are at the top as the best ones to create a wholesome vision of future developments from different angles.
Innovation is not just about coming up with a new idea. It is about the ability to make it a reality at the right time and find sufficient resources to do so. Thus, your top management must be constantly encouraged to suggest innovation ideas. Not as raw suggestions, but as detailed plans evaluated from all possible aspects: market value, value for the company, financials, and required resources. Only then will it all work. And that is how it has worked for us so far.
Although top managers are the key element to driving innovation within the company, it must not come down just to them and the usual small group of “everyday heroes” like Heads of IT or department managers. Every person in the company must be aware of the freedom to suggest new innovative ideas anytime. And most importantly, everyone must know that new ideas are highly valued and appreciated. The thing is that some of the best ideas may often come from employees on the forefront – regular engineers and customer managers, the people who directly engage with the customers, your product, or service daily.
Moreover, it is important to encourage knowledge exchange between departments. People that are not usually in contact with one another need to have opportunities to rub elbows with the co-workers they don’t usually get in touch with. It can be in different forms – a common corporate knowledge, a system of incentives for sharing experience, etc. Anything you do in this direction will work for the better.
Any new idea that appears during meetings within the company – be it a company-level event or a team daily – needs to be recorded and stored. The key here is to provide a simple way to return and refresh previous discussions whenever necessary quickly. If it is a daily meeting – engage the team lead to keep records (or a scrum master during planning sessions like we do in our company). In case of a larger company-level event – make sure to assign a responsible person who will arrange session recording and data storage for the future. You can never know when a great idea will come up. You also might not get the full brilliance of an idea when it just appeared. Therefore, keeping a due record of all your brainstorming is invaluable.
True innovation is usually not what you think is great but something that is recognized and praised by the market and the customers. One must not innovate just for the sake of innovation. Customer service must be at the forefront.
It is important to listen to your customers, what concerns and ideas they have, and aggregate and analyze all ideas they come up with. In our product department, for example, we never proceed to the setup unless we’ve done a detailed analysis of customer needs to define any existing functional gaps. This operational processes approach has proven to be very insightful and is an endless source of great ideas for innovation. Ultimately our product team always has an innovation plan months and months in advance.
You definitely won’t manage to work on all your possible innovations at once. At the same time, you need to innovate constantly to advance your product or service. Therefore, it is important to set up a process of defining priorities.
The way we see it, it is most reasonable to start with implementations that are “most wanted” from the customer’s perspective. Here at GP Solutions, we always tend to prioritize this. At the same time, you need to pay attention to your team’s ideas and requirements. So, it is crucial to “balance the scales” between what’s required by the team and your customers at the moment.
Also, no idea will see the light of day without proper business processes management (bpm) and supervision. It must become a good practice to assign responsible managers that will control implementation up to production release.
Here in IT it is all about talented and educated experts. We are sure that it is pretty much the same in other spheres. Therefore, businesses must constantly work on making themselves more and more attractive for talented individuals in various aspects – salaries, bonuses, professional growth, work conditions, social incentives, employee engagement etc. The key role here belongs to your HR department. For example, an Human Resources manager in IT today possesses all the skills of a salesperson who knows how to sell the company to a prospect. Such practice can work productively for any other industry.
It is effective for a number of reasons.
First of all, it is multi-faceted. It takes into account not only the tech aspect of innovation, which is the mere creation of a new tech implementation idea. It creates a process encouraging innovation from numerous perspectives – technical, managerial, educational, financial, recruitment, etc.
Secondly, it drives systematic innovation. In case digital technology innovation gets encouraged from various bodies and entities within a company, such a business becomes capable of generating ideas and seeing them all the way through to actual deployment repeatedly for a long time.
Third, it is balanced. It takes into account all interests – customers priorities and business goals. It also satisfies the constant need of talented employees to apply something new. In the end, it makes all innovations valuable and applicable in practice, instead of converting ideas for something that is just “a nice-to-have”.
And last but not least. This approach has been working for us, GP Solutions, in practice for over 20 years. And it is one of the key reasons we’ve managed to keep leadership positions in travel business automation for so long.