Tech, people and culture: The three pillars of business innovation and digital transformation

Tech, people and culture: The three pillars of business innovation and digital transformation Shawn Rogers is an internationally recognised strategist, thought leader, speaker, and author specialising in analytics, business intelligence, Big Data, Cloud, IoT and social media technologies. He has founded and sold two Internet/media start-ups and is presently VP Analytic Strategy for TIBCO Software.

Digital transformation means different things to different people. As indeed, does innovation. We all know we need to do it, but our plans and execution vary. The need for clarification in this area, was one of the motivations for the TIBCO CXO Innovation Survey, which set out to get to the heart of what drives and enables new ideas and creative thoughts in our personal and working lives.

We know that there are three pillars on which innovation is built: people, culture and technology. You may have the desire to create, but you can’t achieve that without tools of some sort. Meanwhile, technology is rendered powerless without a supportive innovative culture – it’s no good being great at inventing things without the right culture and people to nurture that innovation.

TIBCO’s research examines the strategies for applying digital transformation in order to create the best environment in which an innovation culture can thrive. The survey found that there are countless variables that help enable a successful innovation strategy, but survey respondents lead with a focus on technology, with 40.75% of their effort being based on identifying and deploying innovative technology. This strategy isn’t surprising, technology has a unique effect on businesses. However, when innovating, respondents are focusing 59.3% of their effort on people and culture—so while technology leads, it doesn’t make up the entire strategy. All three—technology, people, and culture— are critically important and necessary for a successful innovation strategy.

As all companies are an organic work in progress, the results reveal a key point; companies constantly need to take stock of what they have, how they work and the improvements that could be made to help drive innovation. It is paramount for the growth of a business that the shoots of innovation are protected, and have the vital resources directed towards them, by removing the ‘bare branches’ of old encumbering strategies.

People want technology to do three things: save time, save money and save sanity. If it fails in any one of those components, then it is failing in its objective of digital transformation. For a business, this means examining the way they manage their assets (not just the goods and the capital, but also the human resources), their processes and decision making capacity. All of which can be fine tuned with technology that creates new possibilities, makes connections and eliminates laborious tasks.

The technology is intrinsically and unavoidably connected with the productiveness and creativity of people in a company. We can now use machine learning and analytics technology to constantly strive to simplify the search for the best intelligence. Much like the collaboration of ants cutting up leaves into manageable pieces for the team to carry, this crucial technology can make information widely available and empowers all members of the team to utilise it.

Innovation can be fostered by putting the right environment in place and building on the foundations of people, culture and technology. An environment that spurs the culture of innovation in people is very important. The same way that visiting an art gallery can provide the right conditions for creativity, the user friendliness of a good IT system can induce a similar feeling of being ‘in the zone’.

Deploying analytics tools within a business can prove to be extremely fruitful for innovation, not least because investigating the processes of a company, by visiting each of its departments involved in a chain of events, is a stimulating activity that often gives companies a fresh creative perspective.

To offer a specific use-case, the insurance industry – which is being severely ‘disrupted’ by changes in everything from human demographics to market dynamics – is a good example of how digital transformation can be a company’s salvation. The market for risk aversion has shrunk significantly in each of the last five years, so insurance companies now need to modernise the way they create and provide their offerings, in order to adapt to modern conditions.

They are not alone. In fact, many businesses across various industries have begun to seek ways to disrupt using data and analytics. In the instance of the insurance sector, this means refining their search for the best customers by implementing a new method of finding data and creating models, sorting them into categories and cherry picking the most fruitful.

For the insurance companies deploying these kinds of analytics, the bottom line is mutually beneficial, as the customers get the best options while the company wastes less resources on unreliable data. This then works like dominoes, and calls for innovations on multiple levels: the marketing department will run a different type of campaign to attract customers, inbound communications will be handled in a new way, and there will be new methods of selection used.

This kind of disruption can only be achieved if there is a culture of innovation, which is complemented by technology and the right spirit in the workforce. This technology creates the option to explore ways of doing more, in the places that matter the most, by not only collecting, but understanding the value of data and the value of the right people and culture to harness that data. 

The culture in any business should be a continual learning environment, a constant ‘work in progress’ which keeps evolving and sparks new innovations. Businesses have to keep moving with the cogs of an innovation driven landscape in order to really succeed and disrupt their industry.

Necessity is the mother of invention. However, culture is the brother of invention and people are the ‘significant other’ of invention. Together, they create an unbeatable combination that can adapt to any circumstance. In IT, we’d call that digital transformation: in business, we would say it means we are ready for anything. in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their use-cases? Attend the co-located IoT Tech Expo, Blockchain Expo, AI & Big Data Expo and Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam and explore the future of enterprise technology.

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