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Innovation

As a Means to Grow
Perpetual innovation is in our nature as a species, and
particularly true in the world of information
technology. Never has this been more prevalent, or
occurring at such an accelerated rate, as it is right
now.
Conversely, where enterprises are failing to deliver
innovative concepts and resolution to complicated
challenges, pockets of dedicated and driven
individuals are striving to fill the void, offering
solutions to address the gaps. Through this, a
multitude of start ups, development houses, and
Kickstarter' projects have materialised within the IT
industry, upsetting the status quo of the old guard.
Capturing this innovative drive is no easy task for the
CIO, who has for some time now been focussed on
maintaining stable operations, and balancing budget
to satisfy the demands of the business.
Nevertheless, it is crucial for the survival and
prosperity of not only the organisation or the IT
department, but also the CIO, to cultivate and nurture
innovation that will propel the company forwards,
and reaffirm the CIOs value within the organisation.
The CIO who does not appreciate the need to
innovate to gain competitive advantage, whether
internally or through partners, is a time-limited
individual, and will become so in the eyes of the
executive when compared and contrasted to the
business savvy CDO, the newest executive function to
start appearing within organisations.
HOW CAN THE CIO INSPIRE A CULTURE OF INNOVATION?
Within every organisation there are individuals who
have a natural affinity for innovation and a passion to
make things better. The CIO who can tap into this,
and draw upon the strength within the organisation to
empower these individuals, will be opening the door
to a multitude of future opportunities.
The CIO should look to inspire such a culture through
the nurturing and development of employee driven
innovation, coupled with communication of new

ideas, to capitalise on the creativity held within their


own company. Often there is a great deal of creativity
within a company, just waiting for the opportunity to
be brought to the surface through an inspiring leader.
There are several ways in which the CIO can
encourage this innovation within their business, but
support from the executive function in this endeavour
is key to the success the initiative will bring. Some of
the methods that can be employed by CIOs are
explained within this article over the following pages.
A practiced and successful way to engage business
departments in a quest to discover and harness
innovative solutions is to establish an innovation
forum. The forum should be a place to regularly bring
together key department stakeholders, and expose
them to both internally developed ideas, and partner
innovation. The forum, if conducted as an open
conversation, can lead to further investment in
concepts, and a way of stimulating new ideas across a
diverse group of leaders for mutual company benefit.
It is amazing the creativity that can be gleaned from
inspired discussion between impassioned individuals
all focussed on pushing the boundaries of normal
operating practices.
For the employees, this opportunity for exposure to
the executive, and encouragement of innovative

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thought, is often the stimulant these creative


individuals need to inspire them to deliver game
changing ideas.

into innovation development with partners,


academia, and system integrators.

A natural resultant extension of the forum is a


publication, which can be used to bring the whole
organisation along on the journey. This is an
invaluable platform and method for the CIO and their
team to disseminate the inspiring content generated
within the forum, allowing the employees to see that
their company is forging ahead.

In the CIOs quest to advance the technology


discussion, and drive innovative practices within their
organisation, the wildcards are the disruptive
influencers.

Where investment is possible to cultivate and inspire


innovative thought and practices, a place of focus for
these developments to occur within can bring further
credence to the organisations commitment to
innovation. These solutions can be showcased in an
innovation suite, or venue, breeding pride within the
employees, and inspiring further innovation.

THE TECHNOLOGY DISRUPTERS

In the era dubbed as the age of the DIY innovator, it


is no longer the large enterprises with unlimited
budgets that necessarily lead the way in the quest for
technological advancement.
Pockets of individuals across the globe, working from
their own homes, or as small start-ups, are creating
the next generation of user interface, interactive
mediums for presentation of data, wearable
technology, and more, often designed and targeted at
the end user and consumer market.
Capturing this creativity and passion is difficult, but
also presents a fresh and exciting way for the CIO to
leverage the technological evolution of ICT inception.
Working with companies who specialise in
technology scouting allows exposure to raw
innovation within the more familiar enterprise world.
INNOVATION VERSUS EVOLUTION

WHAT ABOUT HARNESSING EXTERNAL COUNCIL?


Whilst a common practice in Europe and the USA, a
vastly untapped resource for IT innovation within the
UK is Universities, and academia in general. Keen to
make their mark on the world, and shrouded from
negativity, the undergraduate community is a
breeding ground for the art of the possible.
Mutual benefit can be attained through partnering
with these academic establishments to explore
possibilities and solve problems through fresh ideas
and concentrated efforts.
Partnering with forward thinking systems integrators
is also a great way to tap into hubs of creativity,
especially where the integrator has dedicated budget
and facilities, to bring financial, operational, and
cultural benefits to their clients.
Some CIOs are already realising the benefits that can
be harvested from embracing and encouraging
innovation within their own company, and tapping

One trap to avoid falling into is thinking that a new


iteration of an existing concept or solution is in fact
innovation. Where the concept or idea is not actually
a new direction or approach to a problem or
challenge, this is most often evolution.
We often-here vendors announce the arrival of their
new innovative hardware. If we are truly honest about
the item in question, usually the changes are a natural
evolution of a proven concept or design.
Within their own organisation, the CIO must be
careful that evolution is not mistaken for innovation,
and should strive to encourage new direction when it
comes to creation of solutions and services.
TAKING THAT FIRST STEP IS THE KEY
The CIO must decide which approach to fostering
innovation is the most appropriate for their business.
The methods described such as open forums,
collaboration with academia, and internal inspiration
of employees, are all ways in which smart CIOs are
beginning to tap into this area, and in doing so are re-
affirming their position in the eyes of the business as a
leader with their sights firmly set on the future.

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