Driving innovation in today’s digital environment

  • A common fallacy is that change needs to be instantly and dramatically transformational
  • That may be true at times, but so is sustained innovation around existing processes

Driving innovation in today’s digital environmentWHAT does it mean for businesses as we move towards a more global landscape?
As boundaries blur, opportunities abound. These are exciting times as organisations seek out new frontiers and growth prospects.
Growth however also signals competition. A PwC study conducted in 2011 found that 80% of CEOs (chief executive officers) surveyed were of the opinion that the driving of efficiencies through innovation leads to a competitive advantage.
Companies are finding that to be competitive in this new landscape, there is a necessity to innovate and to do it in a rapid and cost effective manner.
Business process optimisation
Innovation that is hinged on IT is the main enabler of that process. While that may seem like an obvious solution, the accessibility of multiple channels of information and emerging technology can be a quicksand instead for those who are not organisationally prepared to integrate these new tools.
It is vital that organisations have a clear focus and strategy of where they want to go and what they want to achieve. Once they have all their objectives clearly defined, it creates a clear path towards effecting change.
Streamlining organisational structures via process optimisation derives higher business value.  Business owners would then be able to collate, analyse and action on data on a real-time basis. Informed leaders can analyse key business and IT processes that can support revenue growth.
Automating these processes can accelerate the optimisation and consolidation of operations to compete more effectively.
Working towards sustained innovation

Driving innovation in today’s digital environment

Business owners therefore need to ask themselves two vital questions: Where are we now and where do we want to go?
They need to identify and understand which critical business processes are causing operational inefficiencies, and how to creatively circumvent these inadequacies.
A common fallacy that most business owners hold is that change needs to be instantly and dramatically transformational.
Although at times that is the case, incremental but sustained innovation around existing processes could be the solution.
Half the battle is to reduce IT complexity so that time and money is more accessible to allow for innovation. The other half would be to cultivate a mind-set that embraces new technologies and be open to how these new technologies can be leveraged upon.
How can an organisation work towards that? After all, most people tend to be wary of new things and taking new risks.
Companies can tackle this challenge by creating an organisational structure that supports innovation and encourages experimentation.
Experimenting in today’s climate
Experimentation is the backbone of innovation. Contrary to common belief, it is even more crucial to experiment during a turbulent economic climate – to introduce new products, new services and new processes.
That is how organisations can stay ahead of the curve in a technology-driven economy, where experimentation can be a cost-effective exercise.
Today’s business environment is dynamic – one that is constantly changing and evolving.
Sometimes, these variables can be daunting and may put some off experimentation. Fear of the unknown can be a debilitating factor.
This unknown variable though can be substantially removed from one’s sphere through processes that have been put in place. Removing the uncertainty is dependent on how much information decision makers get to base their hypothesis and experiment on.
On some occasions, obtaining such information can be a challenge. It is imperative to get the right information to the right person at the right time.
A smooth and clear information channel is critical in encouraging innovation. Better access equates better decisions and could even improve the success rates with these experimentations.
Fresh pair of eyes

Driving innovation in today’s digital environment

Optimising business processes gives business owners broader perspectives and improves information flow to enable informed decision-making.
In that vein, organisations are increasingly outsourcing part or all of their business processes to external service providers.
The reason such organisations take this route is that they recognise that while their management may be bogged down with daily routines to carve out time to deliberate over these processes, it is the focus of these providers.
These external providers are also able to provide deeper insights on the information flow within the organisation and methods on improving any bottleneck within the processes.
After all, some distance always lends a better perspective to a problem that may have been staring at you right in the face all this time.
Tan Kwang Meng is Asia Pacific senior vice president at K2.
Related Stories:
Digital disrupters twice more profitable: CA Tech survey
Digital disruption: In 3yrs, nothing will be the same
Digital transformation: Don’t forget the back-end!
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