4 Innovation Takeaways from the EY Global TMT Expo

05/11/2017 04:54 pm ET

Last week we had the honor of attending the EY Global TMT Expo. It was a great day filled with several thought provoking conversations, ideas, and opportunities. The Expo was attended by 14 industry sectors that included several companies around the areas of customer experience, to business transformation, robotics, and AI.

While talking with the attendees—the representatives of various products, solutions, and ideas—as well as listening to the speakers, my notepad began overflowing with some great reminders as we had several synergies with the Expo’s theme of convergence. We thought it would be useful to share some of our take-away reminders today.

Value will be created at the nodes of where industries converge.

The theme of the Expo was all about the power of convergence as an innovation tool. About taking separate things and bringing them together in a whole new integrated and unified way.

Opening up the day, Allison Kay from EY reminded us that, in the business models of the future, “value will be created at the nodes of where industries converge”. For years we have created a world of things in their own right, however, bringing these different things—ideas, domains, and people—together can create meaningful value.

This concept can extend to many other areas too such as internally within a company, bringing different functions together to solve problems or ideate. For example, collaboration between the facilities, IT, and HR functions, so that they can work together and co-create employee experience initiatives such as new hire on-boarding.

In this model, a world around convergence, Kay posed the question, “do you compete, or collaborate to compete?” At EffectUX, one of our main goals is helping clients understand their ecosystems in order to proactively design successful experiences—so this topic happened to be right up our alley. Often, our approach to defining success factors is complementary to other services, so we tend to collaborate with several organizations. Traditionally, from a siloed industry perspective, these organizations may be seen as competitors, but we prefer bringing our niche area of expertise together with their portfolio of services to create a complete, and meaningful value, for the customers, in new ways.

Are you structured to adapt?

Jeremy Gutsche gave a very inspiring key note, with several key reminders for organizations looking to enable innovation.

He reminded us that while several organizations say that they are innovative, many are structured to live to an organization vision, or strategic guidelines, rather than structured to adapt. We have all of the patterns and clues right there, in our collective experience, our customer insights, data, and information, and yet we often tend to walk straight past them. Using the example of Roberts Origami, he reminded us that almost all innovation happens by making connections between things that other people do not realize.

Those organizations who have a genuine culture of innovation, who see the patterns and clues, and who are structured to adapt, are leading the way in success in the market. Those that are not, sadly operate in a limited arena, where raw creativity is stifled. Gutsche commented on our lack of drive to innovate today has some parallels with farming. Where farmers may be comfortable simply repeating what gave them a good yield the year before, we too can tend to just try and repeat what has already worked before, rather than opening our minds to new possibilities.

From working with companies big and small, I have seen that organizational culture has been found to play a vital role in creating the environment where true innovation thrives, including factors such as adaptability, purpose, belonging, flexible time, and common goals.

Your breakthrough exists in some combination you haven’t seen.

Traditionally, many organizations take a particular customer problem and try to solve it to create a particular value proposition. However, when it comes to solutions, you often have to solve across numerous points and needs. Convergence inspires you to take the needs of everyone, and optimize how best to reach the solution. This means looking at all challenges, across all industries and functions, rather than through a siloed lens.

To do this, you need to take a look at what other industries can teach you, and how you may be able to apply and combine these learnings across different domains. This way, you can create a solution that takes into account the many points to solve for.

At EffectUX, we see this in action when we use our research-based approach to create Ecosystem Indexes for our clients. When we look at the experience vision—or goal—an organization wants to achieve, often times there are several needs, across several audiences that need to be taken into account. For example, there may be someone using a product, different to someone buying it, different to someone maintaining or supporting it. By understanding what success is to all the audiences, and using this full view as you design and improve solutions, you can optimize across the whole ecosystem in the best way possible and apply learnings from all domains to create a better solution from all perspectives.

Gutsche reminded us that, while you have to have things like strategy, policy, and brand, you also need to have divergence, and an environment that enables these breakthroughs to be seen.

Oh, for Tech sake!

Jake Barton, from Local Projects, brought up several great reminders during his presentation. He spoke to the blurred lines of physical and digital in experience design, the role of emotions, and how, during the process of creation, it is critical to take that moment to step back.

Barton reminded us that we as humans are “more likely to believe stories, remember stories, and share stories when they involve emotions”.

When designing solutions, solving problems, creating experiences, and delivering those experiences, it is important to take a moment to look at what creates emotion as emotion is an incredibly strong driver that inspires behaviors and actions. We spend much of our time discovering what evokes positive emotions for various experiences – from the dining experience, to the customer service experience, or even the experience of using an App—as understanding emotions is at the core of our approach to understanding success factors, which is critical to customer experience.

Barton cautioned the attendees that, when creating anything, people can tend to get nearsighted, putting all of their focus on deadlines, what they need to achieve for that next meeting, and how they will deliver that next feature. But are they thinking big enough to get to the solution? He emphasized that it is critical to take a moment to step back and ask yourself, “are you using technology to genuinely improve the human experience, or just for the sake of using Tech?”

One of the ways he advised to start looking bigger is to innovate in parallel, explore multiple approaches, conduct a proof of concept, and then iterate from there.

In summary

The day advised us to always think: how can you take it to the next level? Identify areas of possibility that come from cross-pollination? Or, at the intersection of different domains?

In summary, some questions you can ask yourself include:

  • Are you thinking big enough, exploring multiple approaches, and iterating?
  • Are you leveraging learnings from multiple industries, applying the learnings, and solving for multiple points?
  • Are you just “slapping on technology” or is the use and placement of technology genuinely improving the experience?
  • Do you understand the role of emotions across the ecosystem and customer lifecycle, and how it impacts desired behaviors and outcomes?
  • Do you understand your whole experience ecosystem and how the components interact?

Finally, a big thanks to all the attendees, speakers, and, to EY for putting together a great day!

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