Millions of dollars, 100s of engineers and multiple years later, why is still tough to innovate?

 In, Digital Strategy, Technology & Design

Innovation is a tough business. The need to innovate is not a choice but a necessity for survival and relevance in a world dominated by tech companies, software and a customer that is increasingly sophisticated and exposed to extremely intelligent applications that can predict and fulfill needs before they are expressed.

Enterprises that have grown organically over years through M&A, who have built and bought software and technology from vendors and ISVs and who are not accustomed to leveraging technology as a value creator are waking up to the fact that the world around them has changed. Software and technology are fundamentally disrupting how value is generated and delivered regardless of the industry, vertical, sector or enterprise. For some, this is a rude awakening and for the few who have been expecting and preparing for this, this is fast becoming a significant competitive advantage.

Why is Innovation Hard?

Reinventing itself into an innovation powerhouse does not come naturally to a traditional enterprise and can be a long, uncertain and frustrating process. It is more likely than not that innovation efforts will fail and in the process, increase the cost burden on the enterprise.

More Is Not Better

The number of developers in an enterprise is not an indication of the amount of innovation an enterprise can generate. A very large number of developers can create the following problems

Inter-Team Competition for Interesting Problems

When there are more than required developers organized into teams, the teams start competing for the most impactful problems to solve. This can rapidly deteriorate the culture with teams denigrating each other’s solutions. In addition, other problems that are not so attractive or considered high value can get starved for attention and remain unaddressed.

Management Overhead

When an enterprise amasses a lot of developers, it has to invest in layers of management to successfully organize the developers and align them towards similar goals. This additional overhead can have the opposite effect and bring down developer efficiency.

Efforts to Measure Developer Productivity

In an environment where there are more developers than required and there is management overhead, enterprises can get distracted by attempting to measure developer productivity in order to increase the throughput. Measuring developer productivity and attempts to increase it can often end up in disarray as they attempt to identify and fix symptoms of the problem rather than the underlying causes. These superficial attempts to increase productivity are at best, a distraction for the enterprise. 

Platforms and Infrastructure

Enterprises often confuse innovation with building platforms and infrastructure. Platforms and infrastructure are very useful investments when driven by the needs of applications that are focussed on delivering value to customers. However, when innovation efforts go awry, they are often focussed on building platforms and infrastructure devoid of any focus on specific applications. Without the app centricity and context, enterprises often invest massive amounts of capital in platforms and infrastructure with minimal Return on Invested Capital.

Culture that stifles Innovation

Enterprises often end up in a rut where the employees get into a mode where the preservation of status quo is more important than delivering customer value. This trait is often exhibited by middle management who find it easier and more lucrative to manage the status quo than taking risks to disrupt themselves. In this situation, the culture and inertia of the organization begin to not only slow down innovation but also actively stifle any innovative thinking of practices lest it damages the status quo. The culture actively works against the innovators making them disillusioned, disheartened and ultimately lose faith in the entire effort.

Orphaned Innovation without Business Alignment

Orphaned innovation efforts are characterized by no relevant business metrics that are tied to the investment masquerading as innovation. This is quite a common phenomenon where innovation led by technology teams focusses on introducing new technology in the enterprise without tying to the metrics that the business cares about. This leads to wasted efforts that generate no new net value and often saddle the enterprise with increase management costs to support the solutions that were built with no clear business objectives.

Orphaned Innovation without Customer Input

Innovation can be orphaned when undertaken without direct customer input and feedback. In a vaccuum, promising technology can seem as the savior for the enterprise and set it up for massive success however, without customers who guide and leverage the new innovation, all the effort can become sunk costs. It is critical that innovation efforts be ideated, delivered and evaluated with direct customer and user feedback.

The AI Company understands that innovation is hard and is focussed on making enterprises focus where it matters: in adding customer value. Let us show you our product suite and get your the AI Company boost towards innovation and customer value.




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