The rapid pace of change seen during a crisis like the pandemic puts pressure on technology executives to quickly create digital experiences that meet and serve their customers and employees virtually. For a lot of firms, the pandemic became a resiliency test, and the firms that truly exemplified resilience had innovation processes built into their culture and leveraged adaptive technology platforms to fuel their innovation strategy. Let’s take a deeper look at these differentiators.

Culture Of Innovation

In a report entitled Research Overview: Innovations Result From Hard Work, Not Luck, I emphasized that while successful innovation takes various forms, it must be repeatable, engrained in the organization’s culture, and regularly adapted like any other process. In the report, I said, “The quality of innovation increases by fostering strong collaborative management; a license to experiment; enthusiastic participation from employees, partners, and customers; sharing of ideas across divisions; diversity among employees; and enhancement of skill sets.

For example, firms with the most mature innovation practices often provide staff incentives that reward innovation — that “license to experiment” mentioned above. And they have customer feedback built into many of their processes, not just the innovation process.

A great example of a firm that has worked to adjust its culture to encourage innovation is German firm BoschNotice I said “adjust” its culture, not overhaul or reinvent. An important aspect of Bosch’s cultural transformation initiative is acknowledging and appreciating the many valuable factors of its existing culture.

Adaptive Technology Platforms

Innovation strategy leaders also tap new and emerging technologies and platforms more successfully than their peers. Forrester data shows that global purchase influencers at firms that prioritize innovation say that better understanding of customer needs, innovating with emerging tech, and investing in adaptive technology platforms are among the key actions their firms are taking to improve their ability to innovate.

These firms tap into technology platforms to accelerate the impact of innovation chains — layers of technology that work together to reduce costs, speed delivery, and enable rapid business change.

And innovation with emerging technologies thrives by leveraging the platforms, as they work from the physical layer, through technical infrastructure, and into the application layer where the breakthroughs occur. This adaptive technology approach creates the foundation for business reinvention, allowing the firm to rapidly deliver new value when opportunities present themselves. Specifically, they zero in on technologies that empower customers, partners, and employees to decide and act immediately.

Team Sport

Lastly, a point to remember is that innovation is not the sole responsibility of the CIO and corporate IT but rather a team sport in which line-of-business and function heads mutually inspire each other and jointly create new experiences with technology. Creativity and outside-in inspiration from emerging technologies must take a prominent spot on the C-suite agenda, and the traditional dominance of operational and tactical topics must decrease.