10 Powerful Innovation Principles for Market Disruption

Marc Foglino
25 min readOct 18, 2017

According to this HBR article Vijay Govindarajan and Anup Srivastava state that

“80% of the companies that existed before 1980 are no longer around — and another 17% probably won’t be here in five years.”

Corporate mortality is rising. That is a very frightening fact for any Enterprise.

According to their research, one strategy to avoid that is continual innovation.

Easier said than done right?

In the book, The Little Black Book of Innovation Scott Anthony defines Innovation as “something different that has impact”.

It is a good definition, but there is a better one from Jeff Bezos.

During an interview with venture capitalist Bill Gurley Jeff Bezos gave the following advice on innovation:

If you want to build a successful, sustainable business, don’t ask yourself what could change in the next ten years that could affect your company. Instead, ask yourself what won’t change, and then put all your energy and effort into those things.

Why do you think Amazon has spent some much effort on lowering prices and cutting down delivery times to even one-hour. Amazon Prime Air will is also able to cut it down to 13 minutes.

Amazon is mainly focused on generating free cash flow and reinvest that to drive explosive growth.

Innovation is hard, but these ten innovation principles might help you to improve your chances of success.

Let’s dive in.

1. Focus On Unmet Customer Needs

You need to work on solving an unmet need many people share. A painful problem ideally impacts a large audience because if your product does not solve a problem, you have no product.

If you want to build the next big breakthrough product, you need to have a deep understanding of who your customers are and what underserved needs they have.

But how?

In the book Build Better Products: A Modern Approach to Building Successful User-Centered Products, Laura Klein provides us with some advice on the critical steps to building great products and understand your customer needs.

If you are figuring out what to build Laura Klein recommends following three steps. I have added my thoughts.

a) Define a Better Business Need

The first thing you need to do is to create a measurable and achievable goal for your Business. You need to think “why” you are building your next product.

At Amazon, the first thing we did is always to ask ourselves “what success looks like.”

We usually defined a goal together as a team and made it as specific as possible.

The reason your goal needs to be specific and measurable is to be able to verify after launching it whether you made an impact to come closer to your goal.

Christina Wodtke provides some valuable advice on setting goals in her book Radical Focus: Achieving Your Most Important Goals with Objectives and Key Results.

If you already have a product and would like to work on improving it, then a User Lifecycle funnel will be valuable to understand at which point your customers are dropping off.

At Amazon, we put a tremendous effort to eliminate friction across every single customer touchpoint.

b) Understand Your Users Better

Once you have clear goals, you need to identify who to target and what to build to reach your goals.

The Jobs to be Done framework is one of the most effective frameworks to understand your customers and uncover their underserved needs.

“Your customers are hiring your product to get a job done.”

That is why you need to study your customers and find out what they are trying to accomplish.

Your product should continuously improve your customer’s lives.

Once you understand that, it becomes so much easier to think how to design your product to meet that need.

“Don’t build better cameras — build better photographers.”

— Kathy Sierra

https://jtbd.info/2-what-is-jobs-to-be-done-jtbd-796b82081cca

You should also create a provisional persona to visualise your ideal user in more detail. Especially at the start, it is key to focus just on one persona.

Later on, you should also consider applying machine learning algorithms which will enable you to implement micro-segmentation and a dynamic customer persona.

This way you can target more precisely your target customers across all major marketing channels.

Pro Tip: Create a customer journey map before even building your product.

c) Do Better Research

You can only apply the jobs to be done framework effectively if you have an efficient research process utilising quantitative and qualitative research methodologies.

Especially when it comes to understanding customer needs interviews are incredibly valuable because you can learn so much about their lives and their habits.

Also, don’t underestimate the importance of asking the right questions during your interviews. Prepare your script in advance.

Prepare your script in advance. You do not want “yes” or “no” answers.

In the book Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy Cindy Alvarez reveals that she does not vary much her interview script.

She would ask questions such as:

“Tell me about how you do _______ today ….”

“Do you use any [tools/products/apps/tricks] to help you get ______done?”

Don’t forget to record and summarise all findings after your interviews.

If you have not done it yet, you need to define a process to collect customer feedback.

Also, bear in mind that user/buyer research is not just something you do when you are deciding what to build. It is a continuous process which you need to apply to the entire customer journey.

Finally, your research efforts will be more effective if you can test your hypothesis quickly by building rapid prototypes and launch many experiments on a weekly basis.

2. Ask The Right Questions To Map The Innovation Space

In Mapping Innovation: A playbook for navigating a disruptive age, Greg Satell recommends using the two framing questions and approaches your problem by using the below Innovation matrix.

  • How well is the problem defined?
  • How well is the domain defined?

You can only innovate effectively if your strategy is addressing the problem you intend to solve.

Let’s have a look at the four quadrants.

Sustaining Innovation

If you look at most platform businesses such as Airbnb, UpWork or Uber they are considered as a sustaining innovation because the domain was already known.

They became so successful because their offering is so much better, convenient, more scalable and cheaper than existing market players.

Platforms are on the way to take over our world because they provide so many benefits ranging from the fact that they are asset-light, more cost-effective, highly scalable to driving more awareness.

In fact, platforms are an accurate representation of capitalism and are the business model of the 21st century fueling the “sharing economy.”

They are genuinely impacting our society by making the ownership of assets not anymore necessary.

For example, Car ownership has already declined over the last five years.

As pointed out by the author most innovation happens here because it is easier to focus on how to improve existing products or services because you should have at this point a much better idea of the problems which need solving and what is required to address them.

What are the best strategies to drive Sustaining Innovation?

Depending on your organisational setup, resources, and preferences you could apply conventional strategies such as strategic road mapping.

If you have don’t have an R&D Lab, one or one of the most straightforward options is to acquire a company to get access to the technology, knowledge, and resources.

Finally, design thinking methods which have been pioneered by IDEO in conjunction with a dual-track agile methodology could prove to be very useful to develop a new proposition.

Breakthrough Innovation

Lego has been one of the significant consumer organisation leading the way when it comes to applying “Open Innovation” and “Crowdsourcing.”

The Lego Ideas initiative gives consumers the ability to design the own Lego sets. The community then has the opportunity to discuss and vote for the most appealing sets.

This way produced sets are a success because they are community driven and on top of that you get a small revenue share as a creator.

XPRIZE is another way to solve humanity’s grand challenges by creating and managing large-scale incentivised prize competitions across five areas such as Learning; Exploration; Energy & Environment; Global Development; and Life Sciences.

Other organisations such as GE, Samsung, and Coca-Cola are also embracing Open Innovation.

If you are on a mission to develop ground-breaking innovations, you should seriously consider an Open Innovation platform and engage with Mavericks, experts, and entrepreneurs across the globe.

Also, you may want to consider building a skunkworks lab such as “Google X” which is operating autonomously. This still gives you the ability to leverage Open Innovation.

Disruptive Innovation

The concept of disruptive innovation has been introduced by Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen.

In his legendary book, The Innovator’s Dilemma Professor Clayton Christensen reveals what disruptive means:

“First, disruptive products are simpler and cheaper; they promise lower margins, not greater profits. Second, disruptive technologies typically are first commercialised in emerging or insignificant markets. And third, leading firms’ most profitable customers don’t want, and indeed initially can’t use, products based on disruptive technologies.”

One of the most famous examples is the case of Netflix.

At launch, Netflix was not on the radar of Blockbuster executives because they only offered a DVD-by-mail subscription service. As technology evolved, Netflix saw the opportunity to provide video streaming services which became massively popular to Blockbuster customers.

We all know the end of this story. Blockbuster went into bankruptcy in 2010.

When do disruptive Innovation Strategies apply?

In today’s incredibly competitive market, it becomes more critical than ever to look at disruptive innovation strategies.

If we take the Netflix case as an example, consumer behaviour and technology have shifted which means that improving their product would not have made sense for Blockbuster.

Instead what was necessary, was a new business model such as Netflix’s video streaming service.

How do you make that shift?

One of the most important findings is that you cannot rely anymore on your internal R&D department and you may also need to adapt your thinking and mindset.

Practically speaking you could look at following strategies to make that shift:

By setting up a corporate venture capital (CVC) arm, this gives you the opportunity to participate in financing new start-ups and have access to new disruptive innovations.

An innovation lab could be a precious source of disruptive innovation. Amazon’s Lab 126 is for example responsible for products such as the Kindle, Fire TV, and the Echo.

Google is probably one of the most famous cases where employees are given 20% of their time to think creatively and work on passion projects.

Given the fact that services such as Gmail or AdSense are the result of such an initiative, it shows that it works.

Spend some time to evaluate whether you want to allocate 15 or 20% on side projects.

Steve Blank and Eric Ries have popularised the lean startup movement which looks at only developing a product or service once you have evidence that it addresses an unmet customer need and that there is a demand for it.

The application of tools developed by Alex Osterwalder such as the business model and value proposition canvas or customer development prove to be useful in addressing unmet customer needs.

All successful start-ups such as HubSpot and large corporates such as GE apply the lean methodology for innovation.

Did you know that the Facebook Like button was a result of a Hackathon?

Hackathons can be hugely useful for any organisation without disrupting the way you operate your Business.

It is fascinating to see how just breaking out of your job or project and collaborating with different people can produce a high level of innovation.

Basic Research

According to MIT’s technology reviewscientists have solved fundamental problems that were holding back cures for rare hereditary disorders.

Gene Therapy 2.0 could potentially find a cure for cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses.

Also, researchers may have discovered a way to reverse blindness.

These mind-blowing innovations are only possible with “Basic research” methods because you need to spend more time understanding the domain and the problem.

Large corporations such Amazon, Samsung, and Intel, are investing in basic research to drive discoveries forward which could change our lives fundamentally.

Even if you are a small and medium Businesses, you can have access to new scientific research to stay abreast of the latest discoveries.

You could, for example, collaborate with your local universities, national labs, or participate in government-funded research programmes.

For example, in the UK the SBRI is a cross-government programme, managed by Innovate UK. It enables small businesses to bid for government research and development contracts to develop new technologies.

It provides companies with £50,000 to £100,000 to test an idea, and then up to £1 million to develop prototypes.

3. Be Stubborn On Vision

Apple announced last month the new iPhone X with prices ranging from £999 to £1.149 in the UK.

This is the first time Apple breaks the £1.000 price point.

This move shows that Apple is doubling down on their premium strategy and focus on what they do best which is to focus on design, innovation, and simplicity.

Apple is demonstrating that a relentless focus on executing their vision pays off.

Despite all the criticism over the years, the share price and demand have been going up.

Here are three simple things you can do to improve your likelihood of success:

a) Leverage Your Strengths and Capabilities

Did you notice that over the years Apple has continuously focused on their strengths and capabilities?

In the book Now, Discover Your Strengths the authors wrote that “The real tragedy of life is not that each of us doesn’t have enough strengths, it’s that we fail to use the ones we have.”

Similarly to your strengths, take some time reflect and review what are your organisational strengths and capabilities.

b) Focus On Fewer Products/Services

Do you remember that when Steve Jobs returned to Apple, he reduced the number of Apple products by 70 percent?

The strategy has worked. Apple became the most valuable company over time.

Of course, the reduction of the product line up was only a contributing factor to their success.

In the book The 22 Immutable Laws Of Marketing, the authors call this the “Law of Sacrifice.”

c) Be More Flexible

As Jeff Bezos famously said “We are stubborn on vision. We are flexible on details”.

Several roads are leading to Rome right?

As long as you know where you are heading over the long-term, be open to adapt your tactics to thrive in today’s ultra-competitive market environment.

It worked for Amazon and Apple. Why shouldn’t it work for you?

4. Leverage Platforms To Access Talent, Technology, And Information

In today’s networked economy you need to use platforms to gain access to more expertise, technology, and information.

In the book Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy- and How to Make Them Work for You Geoffrey Parker writes:

“And innovation is no longer the province of in-house experts and research and development labs, but is produced through crowdsourcing and the contribution of ideas by independent participants in the platform.”

You need to embrace crowdsourced communities to accelerate innovation and compete effectively.

Greg Satell advises us to “design our organizations for agility, empathy, and interconnectedness, rather than for scale, dominance, and efficiency.

What defines a platform is the ability to generate a network effect.

The more people contribute to the platform; the more valuable the service becomes to everyone.

You could for example leverage the concept of “Open Innovation” to get access to more ideas or even help by collaborating with universities, research institutes, customers or any other relevant external partners.

Samsung is leveraging the concept of Open Innovation by collaborating with the external world across four different categories.

a) Partnerships

Samsung seeks partnerships to extend their offering and reach new customers. For example, Samsung has partnered recently with BuzzFeed and NowThis to give consumers access to immersive content by leveraging their device Samsung Gear 360.

b) Ventures

Samsung Ventures invests in early-stage startups to get access to new technologies, co-develop products and drive additional revenues.

c) Accelerators

Samsung Next offers early-stage software startups with funding, deep domain expertise, co-located workspaces, and resources to build products, launch startups and grow companies ready for scale.

d) Acquisitions

A good example is the SmartThings acquisition which gave Samsung access to an IoT platform without investing in R&D resources.

5. Measure Your Innovation Progress

Management guru Peter Drucker once said, “What’s measured improves.

Stated another way, You get what you measure. For many companies, coming up with ideas is not the problem. The challenge is turning them into something real that delivers an impact.

So what metrics should you use?

Do you believe that measuring innovation will impact creativity and potentially your success?

Can you measure innovation and do you think innovation is a matter of luck?

Yes, you can measure innovation and leave it to luck is a risky strategy.

Just because you hire the best people to drive innovations, it does not guarantee success.

By having a set of metrics, it will be much easier to demonstrate to your leadership the return on investment (ROI) of your innovation projects.

Otherwise, you might face the danger that your leadership will pull the plug because they do not see any outcome and ROI.

Measuring innovation is a combination of art and science.

If you want to improve your chances of success, you need to set up quantitative and qualitative metrics to have a holistic view if you are on the right track.

Let’s have a look how to measure your innovation efforts.

a) Define input and output metrics — quantitative

· % of capital invested in innovation activities

· Number of projects in your innovation pipeline

· How many innovation projects have you launched every year

· Percentage of generated “external” vs “internal” ideas (open innovation)

· Resources allocated to innovation — people and budget

· Defined structure and processes to drive innovation

· % of staff trained to accelerate innovation (e.g. on Design Thinking)

· Revenue and profit generated by new products over the last year

· Achieved cost savings (per project)

· ROI on Innovation spent

· Speed to market

· Number of newly acquired customers

· Customer satisfaction with new products or services

· Lessons learned

b) Create an innovation survey to have a qualitative view

For example, Google used the Googlegeist surveys to review how they are performing regarding innovation and creativity.

Google measure how employees feel about innovation. They would look for example at:

  • Right resources
  • Right team environment
  • Right mindset

Once you have collected the feedback from your employees, take some time to analyse the lowest performing areas and define some actions to address at least the Top 3 areas.

Pro Tip: You could consider building an “Innovation Scorecard” which incorporates various metrics such as customer success and business metrics. Choose metrics which are actionable, and customer focused. There isn’t a one size fits all model. Select the metrics which suit your organisation.

Preferably build your dashboard by leveraging your BI Tech Stack and having access to real-time data.

6. Build A Collaborative Culture

According to FastCompany Amazon, Google and Uber are the most innovative companies in 2017.

One of the reasons for their innovation power is their collaborative culture.

Just because you have hired the brightest team members, doesn’t necessarily mean you may become the most innovative company in your field.

In the book Humans Are Underrated: What High Achievers Know that Brilliant Machines Never Will, Geoff Colvin reveals that in today’s ultra-competitive world, you cannot rely anymore on individual genius.

If you want to stand out, you need to work on building the best teams, where collaboration is a core element to success.

Collective Intelligence beats any single genius.”

It emphasises again on the importance of developing “human skills” such as “Emotional Intelligence” to succeed in tomorrow’s world of artificial intelligence and robotics.

How can you develop a collaborative culture?

If you are keen on building a collaborative culture, you need to set the right signals right from the top.

There is a need for a collaborative leadership to set an example for the entire company.

In HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Collaboration Collaborative Leadership is defined by “the capacity to engage people and groups outside one’s formal control and inspire them to work toward common goals — despite differences in convictions, cultural values, and operating norms.”

These three simple principles may help you to build a more collaborative culture.

a) Empowerment

That means that you need to empower your employees to drive innovation initiatives forward and support the best ideas and not just consider ideas which come from top management.

If your intern has the best idea, support it and form a workgroup to make this a reality.

You will quickly notice how powerful it is to recognise individual team members for their achievements and contributions.

Also providing feedback on all types of ideas is also useful to provide more clarity for example “why” a plan has not been selected.

b) Diverse Team

Also by building diverse teams by including members from different backgrounds and areas, you are working on will help you to bring a fresh perspective.

According to the authors of this HBR articleEmployees of firms with 2-D diversity are 45% likelier to report growth in market share over the previous year and 70% likelier to report that the firm captured a new market.”

Also, scientists at MIT and Carnegie Mellon have created a “Collective intelligence factor” which gives you the ability to predict group performance.

With no surprise, a combination of emotional intelligence and with a higher portion of women in the group led to a better performance.

c) Safety

If every team member feels safe to come up with new ideas even if they sound crazy, this will help you to generate more ideas.

You could also share new ideas across the team or even set up an Ideas “Slack” channel to get everyone involved.

According to Frederik Pferdt, Chief Innovation Evangelist at Google:

“Psychological safety is the biggest distinction in innovative teams.”

Bear in mind that you will undoubtedly encounter conflict or potentially disagreement while collaborating with various teams or project members.

Very often the source of these conflicts are unclear roles & responsibilities, or you may encounter “ego” driven colleagues.

In this HBR article, Liane Davey confirms the reality on collaboration by emphasising that:

“There’s no point in collaboration without tension, disagreement, or conflict. What we need is a collaboration where tension, disagreement, and conflict improve the value of the ideas, expose the risks inherent in the plan, and lead to enhanced trust among the participants.”

7. Develop The Right Mindset

“Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.”

– Elon Musk

If you look at Tesla, Amazon or Google, they are all constantly experimenting and exploring new avenues to drive innovation.

The truth is that is that not everything succeeds, but that is ok. How can you innovate if you are afraid to try new things out or explore new markets?

You might think that is it is easier said than done. That is not surprising because since your childhood you may not have been rewarded for experimenting and failing right?

Most likely you were rewarded with grades and answering all questions correctly.

Have you noticed that at a very young age your kids have still got that curiosity and playfulness and may break things at times? Hopefully not that precious vase.

Over time, it feels like all that creative spark has been sucked out of you to conform to our education system and potentially our society.

Is there a remedy?

Yes, luckily you can change your mindset, but you will face some challenges to execute it across your organisation.

If you are committed to adapt your mindset across the organisation you could consider implementing following initiatives:

a) Establish a Growth Mindset Culture

According to the psychologist Carol Dweck with a “growth mindset” you believe that you can develop your capabilities and intelligence over time with learning and experimentation.

You could do these things to help your organisation to adopt this mindset:

  • Provide constant constructive feedback and adopt Radical Candor
  • Incentivise learning and experimentation in your team KPIs
  • Praise those you help others to become a better version of themselves
  • Remove hierarchies by rewarding the best ideas from anyone
  • Be open to “reverse mentoring” by learning from your team

b) Promote Mindfulness to Spark Creativity

At work, you are probably interrupted continuously either by urgent emails, calls or questions from your team. You may find yourself, and the team continually stressed out.

Unfortunately, that is not a very fertile ground for creativity and innovation.

However, mindfulness could help you.

According to mindful.org “Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”

Mindfulness will help you to reduce stress, enhance performance and nurture that curiosity which is needed to come up with new ideas.

You could either organise a group mindfulness session or leave it to your team to decide when they need it by using, for example, the Headspace App.

c) Encourage Curiosity and Playfulness

Have you seen recently old videos or pictures from when you were a child?

Isn’t it fascinating to see how curious and playful you were back then?

What if you could instil that same behaviour within your team?

It is possible. But how?

  • Ask Better Questions such as “How might we?”

Warren Berger reveals in his book A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas that innovative companies generated new ideas by asking divergent questions such as the one above where there is no specific answer.

Ed Catmull writes in Creativity, Inc: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration that “Failure isn’t a necessary evil. In fact, it isn’t evil at all. It is a necessary consequence of doing something new.”

If some of the experiments do not work out, don’t punish the team. Instead, spend some time what you can learn from it, and you may even come up with a new idea.

Steven Johnson’s TED talk reveals how play leads to the most significant innovations.

You can either adopt a similar method like the Google 20% rule to give your team the opportunity to work on some pet projects.

Also, you could organise several “ideation” sessions to come up with new ideas to solve a specific problem.

8. Embrace Agile To Boost Innovation

You may have read some articles around Agile innovation which gives your teams the ability to execute faster and deliver a higher quality in comparison to traditional processes.

However, because they have not gone through training, they do not understand the approach.

Consequently, they continue to manage in ways that run against agile principles and practices, which will ultimately harm effectiveness.

According to research agile offers some significant benefits, all of which have been studied and documented. It even increases team productivity and employee satisfaction.

Let’s have a look what you can do to embrace agile across your organisation.

a) Train Your Teams

Your teams can only embrace agile if they have the understanding of all agile methodologies and have developed the right skills to act on it on a daily basis.

Agile includes several variations such as Scrum, Kanban, and lean development.

Product and IT teams are most likely trained in Agile, but Agile is slowly applied across various areas such as Marketing or even the C-Suite.

Here is a list of various Agile certifications.

b) Roll-Out Gradually

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” — Lao Tzu

Especially if you operate within a large organisation, you are better off rolling it out gradually. Otherwise, you might overwhelm your team.

By starting with smaller teams like your Product and IT teams, you will be able to learn and build some internal knowledge. This way your Product Head could act as an Agile coach for other teams.

c) Encourage Experimentation

https://www.statista.com/chart/8399/spotify-apple-music-paid-subscribers/

Spotify’s growth has been remarkable over the last few years.

Did you know that Spotify is embracing Agile across their entire organisation?

Part of their culture is to continuously “experiment” and always look to test-and-learn to drive their business forward.

Instead of intuition, authority or a HiPPO approach, they favour experimentation, playfulness, collaboration and most importantly they are not afraid to fail.

If they break things and it does not work out, that is ok.

The Google Ventures five-day Sprint approach could be an excellent way to conduct experiments.

Also, you may want to look at AI software such as Albert which optimises your marketing campaigns automatically across multiple channels. Automated experiments are the way forward not just for product and marketing.

Over the mid, to long-term, you could consider developing internal machine learning solutions with platforms like Dataiku, IBM or H2O.

At Amazon, we used on several occasions failure as a way to learn, iterate, and in some cases, this even led to new groundbreaking ideas.

9. Balance Your Innovation Efforts

http://uk.businessinsider.com/facebook-f8-ten-year-roadmap-2016-4

At the F8 conference in April 2016, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the company’s ten-year roadmap.

The Facebook roadmap was divided into three sections.

  • First 3 years focussed on developing the Facebook ecosystem
  • 3 to 5 years focussed on strengthening their products
  • 5 to 10 years focussed on developing emerging technologies in new markets

Facebook’s example shows the importance of applying the three horizons framework to your organisation which was initially featured in The Alchemy of Growth.

This framework gives the ability to assess future growth opportunities without discarding your current performance.

McKinsey is strongly recommending to manage all three horizons concurrently to ensure a balanced portfolio.

In practice, Nagji and Tuff propose to apply the 70–20–10 rule.

That effectively means 70% on your core innovation activities, 20% into adjacent innovation and 10% in transformational innovation which are your “Moonshots.”

In the book Lead and Disrupt: How to Solve the Innovator’s Dilemma, the authors reveal that “most successful firms build innovation streams and behave ambidextrously. While exploit units focus on incremental innovation and continuous improvement, explore units experiment and learn by doing.”

10. Leverage Data To Accelerate Innovation

https://www.fastcompany.com/most-innovative-companies/2017

According to FastCompany, Amazon is the most innovative Brand in 2017 ahead of Google.

Amazon has been innovating in many different areas starting with new products and services such as the Amazon Echo family, Amazon Prime Air to the Fire TV stick.

One of the reasons Amazon has been so successful over the recent years is the fact that they are very data-driven.

It may sound a bit weird that data can lead to innovation, but it is the reality.

Do you have a consolidated “Data Lake” which gives you full access to all your customer data or is your data still siloed?

“Data is the lifeblood of your organisation and is the fuel of the digital economy.”

Now, like oil or gold, if you are just sitting on it, but if you are not extracting any value from it, how do you expect to drive innovation and growth?

That is one of the reasons leading companies such as GE have digitised their assets.

Data is a source of insights and extracting value may sound easier said than done right?

The primary objective is to align your organisation with data to drive innovation not only for sales & marketing but across your entire organisation.

Your teams will find it easier to innovate your products or processes once they understand the reasons why they churn or at what point of the customer journey could be simplified.

Let’s explore from a top-level perspective how you can leverage your data.

a) Centralise Your Data

The primary objective is to break down your data silos and to centralise all your data in a “data lake.”

Ideally, the data lake needs to be accessible by all divisions to extract value from it by establishing a data governance plan.

b) Adopt Exponential Technologies

As Hod Lipson, professor of Mechanical Engineering and Data Science at Columbia University and co-author of Driverless: Intelligent Cars and the Road Ahead, says, “AI is the engine, but big data is the fuel. They need each other.”

Machine learning, artificial intelligence, and the blockchain are the engines of the future.

When you are buying on Amazon, you may not have realised that the recommendation engine is based on machine learning.

If you want to personalise your services like Amazon, then you need to invest in advanced analytics and data science platforms such as IBM or Dataiku to develop your machine learning solutions.

You may ask what the difference between AI and Machine Learning is?

According to Nidhi Chappell, Head of machine learning at Nvidia “AI is the science and machine learning is the algorithms that make the machines smarter.”

Also, more and more companies are now looking at “ Deep learning” because it gives you the ability to develop autonomously, self-learning machines like “self-driving cars.”

If you want to learn more about it, Andrew Ng has an excellent course on it on Coursera.

Finally, you may have heard of the Blockchain which is considered as being able to change the world again just like what the Internet technology did.

Imagine an enormous digital database. Anyone with internet access can look at the information within: it is open for anyone to see and nobody is in charge of the database. All the information in the database is permanent. Because this removes the need for 3rd parties, you could get for example rent a flat at a lower cost than Airbnb.

This video will give you a better overview of the potential of the Blockchain across 19 industries.

https://youtu.be/G3psxs3gyf8

Now, imagine how disruptive this would be by combining the power of AI and the Blockchain. There are already few companies leveraging both technologies.

A new startup led by Ben Goertzel has launched an ICO called SingularityNET’s with the ambition to create a distributed AI platform on the Ethereum blockchain.

Finally, you could also leverage other technologies such as AR/VR or IoT platforms which are starting to gain traction.

c) Develop a Data-Driven Culture

Do you rely on your intuition or data when making a decision?

Fact is that the most innovative companies adopt a data-driven culture driven from the top.

Data is a strategic asset for your company which will help you make better decisions in every single division.

For example, by enabling access to real-time data product, sales and marketing teams can work more efficiently and make better decisions. You can then see immediately what’s working and what’s not.

In more advanced companies sales and marketing teams are becoming autonomous and agile because they hire Data scientists and establish a DevOps/Marketing Ops team which can act on those insights by running an A/B test without needing to go through IT or other departments.

This model can be applied across your organisation.

This HBR article highlights that 44.3% of Fortune 1000 companies started a project and see the value of utilising Big Data to find innovation avenues.

Once you made that step, it will become much easier to adapt your business model, to enter new markets or to reach new customer segments.

Conclusion

Innovation starts at the top. All the leadership team needs to embrace it first and work continuously to support and reward all innovation efforts across the organisation.

Most importantly by defining by developing a long-term and balanced innovation portfolio with a strong purpose, you will help everyone to execute accordingly.

Focus on adapting your technology stack, processes and human capital to extract the full value of your data across your entire organisation.

Emerging technologies will be a driver of disruption across various industries and companies, giving you the opportunity to define new business models, explore new markets and reach new customer segments.

Once your teams embrace agile, a growth mindset and an openness to collaborating beyond your organisation, you will start to see exponential results.

Imagine a future where your customers trust you and where your employees are happy, motivated and productive at work.

To truly succeed at this game, you need to continuously adapt and potentially re-invent your culture, processes, skills, technology stack and talent pool.

Over To You

Are you going to be a Leader or a Follower in a future of Augmented Collective Intelligence?

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Originally published at www.marcfoglino.com on October 18, 2017.

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Marc Foglino

Entrepreneur, Product & growth, speaker. Passion for Technology and Psychology. Lifelong learner. Mindfulness practitioner. Gamer.