Building a foundation for innovation: A guide for the CIO

Building a foundation for innovation: A guide for the CIO
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.

Innovation is of central importance in almost any vertical sector you can think of. It dominates the thinking of most C-level executives, is a staple of discussion at conferences and trade events, and is regularly aired as a topic in speeches, blogs and articles.

In order to find out more about what C-levels are doing to keep their companies ahead of the pack in the drive to innovate, TIBCO commissioned its CXO Innovation Survey. Not only does it examine C-level strategy on innovation, but it also looks beyond strategy to some of the practicalities too.

Knowing that the funding and driving of innovation within a company is a role played by many across the organisation, the survey looked at which departments and management layers were the most important sponsors of new thinking. It was particularly interesting to note that finance departments have become the third most important sponsors and drivers of innovation in the enterprise, after executive management and IT management which might naturally have been expected to play a key role here.

While executive managers and IT managers remain key innovation drivers, some 63% of innovation projects are occurring and being paid by other areas of the enterprise, finance being the foremost. It is significant for any enterprise if the people who control the purse strings are also the ones pushing for new ways of doing things. In the past, it has all too often been the role of finance professionals to apply the brakes when they sense things taking a radical and perhaps unaccustomed turn.

Digital or bust

When considering what type of innovation is making the biggest difference, digital transformation emerges in the research as of primary significance. We’re not alone in this finding. Research firm IDC is predicting that by the end of 2019, digital transformation spending will reach $1.7 trillion worldwide. That’s the GDP of a fairly large economic power being spent every year on finding ways to apply next generation technology to solving corporate challenges.

Digital transformation is the best way for a company to own its destiny, to stay competitive and drive innovation in a way that really makes a difference. That’s why smart companies, with the cooperation and indeed active sponsorship of their finance departments, are investing heavily in digital transformation so they can leverage interconnected ecosystems and information intelligence to empower IT as well as all lines of their business.

Digital transformation capabilities, it is fair to say, have become the necessary foundation for innovation in today’s highly competitive landscape. At its core, digital transformation is the most powerful way to turn information into the DNA of a business, and in doing so, open the door to the kind of sophisticated technologies that can really bring an innovation strategy alive.

Those responding to the survey estimated that over 40% of their effort is based on identifying and deploying innovative technology. This shouldn’t be surprising. Technology has a unique effect on businesses.

Not that it’s all about technology. Other key areas where innovation effort is expended are people and culture. All three – technology, people, and culture – are critically important and necessary for a successful innovation strategy. They are dependent on one another to drive projects and overcome obstacles and barriers to success. Most innovation projects will encounter obstacles — limited budget, resources, security, skill sets, and even adoption. Companies that have failed to invest in the right technologies, enable innovative people and teams, and build a culture that embraces and empowers innovation, will find themselves challenged to overcome these obstacles.

Nearly 60% of respondents indicated that they include cloud, business intelligence and analytics, and application and data integration technologies in their innovation strategy. This high level of adoption illustrates that these technologies are foundational in digital transformation strategies. When it comes to taking new technologies and applying them to specific use cases, AI, ML, blockchain, open source and IoT are all driving highly innovative projects.

And yet for most enterprises, digital transformation is a work in progress, with over two-thirds of respondents yet to reach what we are defining as ‘expert status’. The findings illustrate how difficult, expensive, and time-consuming digital transformation can be. There is clearly a long journey ahead for many companies who are striving to build a foundation for innovation. 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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