Smart Enterprise Magazine

Volume 6, Number 3, 2012

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Smart Exchange Top 10 IT Innovation Tips Looking to create new IT and business services? Here's what experts and technology leaders recommend. | By Paula Klein W e've written a lot on our Smart Enterprise Exchange community site about the imperative for IT leaders to not just join, but to lead business innovation efforts. I know the message resonates and is being acted on by many enterprises. Nevertheless, the ability to change corporate mindsets and achieve that first win is never easy — especially for large global enterprises and those struggling with daily mandates and tight budgets. That's why I've compiled my Top 10 favorite tips and action items for you from the many experts and IT leaders we have featured recently. Not surprisingly, many successful innovators offer similar tips and tricks — because they really work. I hope these action items will help you draw up your own plan to get started now — that's really point No. 1! 1 Become a Solid Business Partner: At First Data, IT execs form strong internal partnerships with business groups to gain support. For example, First Data's IT department partnered with the Global Product Management and Innovation team to help both sides envision the company's next phase: melding brick-and-mortar commerce with e-commerce to provide consumers with a more convenient shop- ping experience. 2 Think Value: "Many believe that inno- splashy solutions that have a huge impact," notes Len Peters, CIO and Associate VP at Yale University. But "innovation can result when adding business value — even when you have limited resources and options." George Westerman writes that "the best place to begin [innovation] is where it's most welcomed and acceptable — with business processes. You can have a big impact very quickly — and after a few wins people will begin to see you differently." If CIOs start by innovating business processes, he adds, they "can earn the opportunity to innovate in products, business models or other strategic areas." 3 Think Processes: MIT researcher 22 SMARTENTERPRISEMAG.COM vation can occur only by using big, 4 Get Social: Social platforms break down traditional power structures and hierarchies to foster innovation, says Tom Gill, VP and CIO, Plantronics. "Our next step is to roll out [a Jive collaboration plat- form] worldwide to all employees." 5 Bolster External Partnerships: "Col- laborate more closely and effectively with vendors and service providers with the goal of innovation by all parties," writes Peter High, President of Metis Strategy. man: "Give them a task, or give them a new technology and have them find a purpose for it. They'll often work for free just to have the opportunity to do some- thing more exciting than their day jobs." Peter High says to "recruit world-class IT employees who are business-savvy and curious." 6 Find Innovative People: Says Wester- 7 Experiment! Unearth business execs who are open to experimentation. They may have difficulties they want fixed, or just love new technology. Then find ways to improve their business processes. Even better, conduct experiments "on the cheap" that convince people there is a better way to do things, says Westerman. infrastructure — software, hardware and applications — that is reliable and available to free up the team's time and attention to thinking about the future. 9 Go Back to Basics: Build a robust IT 10 Sustain It! "The IT organization, from the top down, must create and foster an environment where innovation is not only enabled, but sustained," says Christopher Montgomery, CTO of New Jersey Transit. Listen and facilitate the exploration of ideas. "For many business leaders, this type of partnership remains outside of their comfort zone." Thomas Koulopoulos, Founder and President of Delphi Group, says the challenge is not being creative. Rather, it is "defining a sustainable process for surfacing, evaluating and executing on these ideas." n PAULA KLEIN is the Editor and Community Manager of Smart Enterprise Exchange. 8 Solve Problems: "Innovation is the process of generating commercially valuable insights and connecting [them] with the right problem solvers," says Ben Allen, Chief Innovation Officer and Chief Information Officer at Marsh & McLennan Companies. "We want to tap into the exper- tise and problem-solving skills of the entire firm," he says. "Technology is an enabler of innovation." Larry Bonfante, CIO at the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA), adds that "[we] start out trying to solve a business problem or identify a new opportunity. Then we look at how technology can help us meet our goals." PHOTOGRAPH: SHUTTERSTOCK

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