The Dog Years of Innovation

Written by: John Humphrey, EVP & CRO, CG Infinity Inc.

I have recently read several articles that discuss how eCommerce related initiatives have moved 5 plus years over the last 12 months.  As an IT professional, I guess I should use this as a wake-up call for my clients to make more progress, faster.  Pass.  This data causes me to pause because one thing I know from helping companies for the last 30 years, is that speed can kill!  Companies get in a hurry and they miss the mark, rollout buggy software and out kick where their customers see value.

Rather than do more, faster, I’d encourage companies to do more, “better.”  Exactly what does that mean?  Better, meaning, an improvement.  Better service, better products, better outcomes.  The promise of technology over the last decade has been efficiency and we have certainly done that.  However, in optimizing call centers, customer service and purchases with technology, have we exported our costs to our clients?  Is it better? I argue in many ways, “no!”

Project Execution Makes a Difference

As I look at my constant managing of log-ins and passwords, coupled with the lack of people helping their customers, it is most definitely NOT better. As a consumer, I’m constantly frustrated when I need help.  If I use a channel and it works, awesome. When I need help, forget about it!  The difference between an outstanding customer experience with eCommerce and a bad one is huge.  My point is project execution makes a difference.  Just getting to a new channel might make things worse for your customers and cause you to go backward, not forward.

So, if we have advanced eCommerce in terms of dog years over the last 12 months, are we leaving our clients and our organizations behind?  Are we better? Maybe not. Perhaps it is time to stop and evaluate our customer experience, our market and the potential for our own wide moats.  Let’s focus on better outcomes.

Consider some of the trends that are pervasive right now:

  • Machine learning – processing large amounts of data in order to gain insights on how to better serve clients or set pricing.
  • Distributed organizations – Covid has taught us that we can be productive as remote workers, but what does it look like when we return to a hybrid organizational structure?
  • Venture architecture – companies innovating within the four walls and then launching new ideas into the market.

These are just a few of the trends that will require organizations to slow down in order to go fast.  Sometimes speed is not your friend.  Take time to get away and evaluate why you are doing particular technology activities and how they help you respond to disruption and create disruption at the same time.

Explore Innovation Opportunities

In order to help our clients think about how they respond to these trends, we have created a new position at our firm, Chief Innovation Officer, held by Rob Palacios; and we have created an Innovation Lab that allows our clients to get away from the daily grind and explore innovation.  This is how we can help our clients slow down the dog years and ensure that they focus on the most important things first.  If you missed Rob’s video on innovation, you should search that one out.

The way we advance in dog years is to focus, slow down and think outside the proverbial box.  I hear companies talking a lot about machine learning but don’t see the projects being funded.  I read a lot about a flexible work environment. However,  I don’t see companies making physical investments to both be nearer to their employees through smaller distributed offices and additional technology to assist employee collaboration.  I see many private equity organizations helping companies spawn new ventures, but I don’t see companies developing architectures to facilitate this activity.  If you are not on the innovation train, your competition might leave you in the dust!

In order to innovate, companies need to slow down and measure their speed to do the highest value activities first.  CG Infinity ’s Innovation Lab is our latest tool to assist our clients in getting to the next level in order to create that wide-moat moment. This is where a competitive advantage becomes real. Slow down to go fast indeed!