Over the past few months, I had the opportunity to interview representatives from 10 leading technology service providers about how they help their clients innovate.  My recent research summarizing those interviews is available to Forrester clients on our website. For those interested in the high level points I raised, here are a few of the key findings:

  1. Providing innovation to clients is still a priority for most service providers. Despite some frustration with the general nature of the term “innovation”, it continues to be a priority for leading service providers and their clients.  While innovation is not a fad, however, the nature and focus of innovation programs changes along with market trends. Today's innovation efforts are focused on themes like business flexibility and agility – a reflection of both new technologies (like cloud and social computing) and the post-recession interests of business professionals (such as cutting costs while still maintaining growth).
  2. The distinguishing factor in client innovation programs is target audience. Each company we spoke with takes a different approach to innovation, one that is linked to its history of serving different stakeholder audiences.  For example, we started to see a clear picture of IT-focused innovations from low-cost services companies like Wipro.  By contrast, the innovation focus of companies like IBM Global Services and Accenture are more focused on business and executive-level audiences.  We found that defining innovation through the lens of key innovation stakeholders is a helpful way to clarify innovation discussions and bring focus to innovation management.
  3. We are seeing more unique methodologies from service providers.  With the continuing interest in innovation, more service providers are coming out with methodologies and frameworks that support the innovation discussion.  Capgemini’s TechnoVision methodology, Fujitsu’s FutureScape methodology, and Accenture’s High Performance Research are examples.  These methodologies are important in aligning the companies around the innovation needs of clients, and helping the service providers develop real, repeatable innovation competencies.  

If you’re interested in this innovation discussion (particularly the emphasis on defining innovation through the lens of stakeholders) look for my next blog post on the  ecosystem of innovation stakeholders.  Also, the research of my colleagues, Liz Herbert and Daniel Krauss, highlight two very different types of innovation offerings from leading services providers which tie nicely to this model.

My questions for readers are:  How do you ensure you are getting the innovation you need from your services providers?  Please leave your comments and I will incorporate them into future blogs/research.