Behind the innovation curve?
In the digital era, enterprises constantly have to innovate to keep abreast of the latest technologies and remain competitive. From applying big data insights to their business to the advantages of the cloud, management teams have a plethora of issues to address if they’re to stay ahead of the curve. Here, I explore how these challenges have been addressed by Atos in the context of our Innovation Workshops.
Transformation for the better
But firstly, what does innovation mean to businesses? Many conceive innovation to simply be a new idea or experiment, but it’s much deeper than that. Innovation consists of actual transformation for the better – in other words, creating new business models or processes, or significantly enhancing existing ones. Enterprises shouldn’t innovate for the sake of it or focus solely on technology; innovation has to impact the business according to a sound strategy.
The key drivers for innovation fall into two camps, proactive and reactive:
- Proactive innovation: When enterprises take the initiative to introduce new business models and ways of working to transform their organisations. At Atos for instance, we’ve deployed initiatives, such as Zero E-Mail and blueKiwi (our Enterprise Social Network), DevOps for large organisations, Employee Start-Ups, Sustainable Data Centres and Additive Manufacturing (3D printing) to name just a few.
- Reactive innovation: When enterprises are forced to innovate in response to circumstances outside of their control; such as the 2008 financial crisis or shifts in social and market trends. It seems paradoxical to some, but many businesses have taken a stronger stand on innovation during the crisis. In spite of the financial turmoil and difficulties, innovation is often seen as a key lever to address growth and/or cost challenges.
Driving enterprise innovation through workshops
In response to the significant changes that are taking place in the market, as well as the convergence of key technologies like cloud, big data, mobility, social and cyber security, Atos launched an initiative in 2012, setting up Innovation Workshops to help enterprises address these challenges. More than 120 workshops took place in 2014, with many customers benefitting from the interactive sessions led by some of our business technologists, including members of the Atos Scientific Community.
Around 20 topics that are considered to be of critical importance to the market – such as Sustainability, Collaboration 2.0, Predictive Analytics, Additive Manufacturing, Future Workplace and Augmented Reality – are put forward for each customer to choose from. In addition, the content of the workshops is tailor-made for each customer and the Atos experts are selected accordingly. The sessions, lasting between two to five hours, aim to be as interactive as possible, with Atos and customer representatives exchanging views on business, strategy and innovation in relation to the specific topics selected. Visionary thoughts together with practical demonstrations of actual experiences are key ingredients. Since our first workshops in 2012, when topics like real-time big data or additive manufacturing were perceived as emergent, discussions quickly moved on to the practical business application of these technologies.
We’ve found the sessions to be mutually beneficial – for customers, exchanging views and obtaining expert feedback on their key business challenges; for Atos, learning from our customers’ views and experiences, and being able to show the full range of our business innovation capabilities in diverse markets.
In the digital era it’s these types of initiatives that foster intimacy, close collaboration, imagination, energy and desire to innovate; in turn enabling actual transformation in business.