Delivering Competitive Advantage through Innovation - the View from IDC's European CIO Summit, 2014

By Marianne Kolding, Vice President, European Services at IDC / CIOs are still considering how best to drive innovation in the organization
Marianne Kolding (PresseBox) (Frankfurt am Main, ) IDC held its European CIO Summit in Berlin from 22-24 September. This is an exclusive event with some 40-50 CIOs from large European or global companies attending. Over the coming weeks, we will share with you some of the key conclusions from the discussions at the Summit.

One of the key topics discussed during the two days was how IT can help drive business transformation and specifically deliver competitive advantage through innovative use of information and communications technology, particularly using the 3rd Platform technologies of mobility, cloud, Big Data and social technologies. The topic was high on the agenda for most of the CIOs that attended, strongly intertwined with how to achieve better IT and business integration. While a few CIOs had very formalized processes for innovation, it seems that most are still considering how to best foster innovation. Here are some of the interesting takeaway points that CIOs and business leaders should consider.

Bottom Line for ICT Buyers:

1. Consider creating a platform - not a formalized process - for innovation. The majority of CIOs believed that if you formalize the innovation process too much you end up stifling the creativity that you wanted to nurture in the first place.

2. The employees in your organization - with the net cast widely also outside IT - is your most obvious source for innovation. But you need to be able to weed the good ideas that have legs out from the ones that don't work -and fast. In order to do that you need to be able to give the creative people the chance to fail fast, so within a month, say, rather than six months down the line. There is a tendency for organizations to ponder new products or services for a while, decide on a few to go with and put massive resources behind these. With this approach you first of all will test out fewer ideas and - if it fails - the investments -and perhaps loss of face in the organization of the instigator and backers will be much higher. This puts a damper on innovation - and makes you move much more slowly in the market.

3. Consider whether you can use your customers or partners in your innovation drive. Several CIOs at the Summit shared experiences of how they had involved their customers in creating new products and services. IDC believes that this kind of "customer-sourcing" is a logical extension of the crowdsourcing trend for enhancing creative input, perhaps especially for product development and for enhancing the customer experience.

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