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ACS Victoria Innovation Panel with Me, Lyndon!

 

On Tuesday this week I attended the Australian Computer Society Innovation Panel Lunch. There were 5 panelists invited.
 
These included:
 
  • Tony Wu, Co-Founder & CEO of Weploy
  • Ben Carter, General Manager of Residential Independence at TAC
  • Damien Scalzo CIO at Mercedes-Benz Financial Services
  • Matt Kuperholtz, Chief Data Scientist at PwC
 
The hosts were:
 
  • Event Host/MC: Maria Markman, Chair of ACS Victoria
  • Panel Moderator: Lidia Ribarovska, Global Business Systems Manager at Multiplex
 
Discussion focused around the exploration of innovation as interpreted by representatives from a range of different industries and scales of operation. The panel itself was very well organised and run by the hosts and the proceedings were mostly gracious and friendly.
 
Silverpond is in a lucky position with respect to innovation, since so many of our projects hinge on the successful delivery of a key piece of innovation. This means that we don’t have to do much soul-searching in order to find opportunities to innovate. These are mostly self-evident and implementation  may succeed or fail, but it almost always aims to be breaking new ground to deliver value.
 
Some of the other panelists were operating in much larger orginisations with more established business focusing on efficiency and new markets, in this circumstance it’s far more difficult to find meaningful ways to adapt innovatively without disrupting operations. Some responses from this perspective provided an insightful contrast to Silverpond’s experiences.
 
While I expect that the transcript will be available in the future, in preparation for the event I wrote down some brief thoughts about some of the proposed questions:
 
How Would You Define Innovation?
 
Innovation is the combination of change and value with both of these meaning different things depending on the situation where they are applied. You need both!
 
Innovation in a field of science or mathematics will not resemble innovation in tax law interpretation but that doesn’t invalidate one or the other.
 
Example: meetup.com – changing interpersonal networking in cities
 
Example: GPU acceleration of neural networks – NVIDIA making ai viable
 
Silverpond sees a diversity of technology innovation through our work with our clients.
 
 
Do you see Innovation as Multidimensional?
 
Innovation itself is more interestingly categorisable than multidimensional. You may find that a situation where innovation is required will need multiple innovations and this could be interpreted as multidimensionality, but it is more interesting to analyse each individual component from the perspective of innovation in terms of…
 
* Math
* Science
* Engineering
* Applications
* Commercial Models
* Efficiency improvements – Significant / Incremental
 
Silverpond operates at the juncture of academic research and implementation into commerce. This puts us mostly in the research-applications space. We eat our own dogfood. That means we use our technology within our business as well as providing innovative solutions to clients.
 
Why do you believe that some companies struggle to innovate?
 
It is sometimes possible to get lucky, but to have a good chance of meaningfully innovating you should have three C’s…
 
* Capability – Including people
* Care – Have a will – Established motivations
* Core to the mission of the business – Not the innovation department
 
When you see innovation hubs fail, missing one or more of these is almost always why.
 
Silverpond’s core business hinges on the delivery of innovation at this point in time, so the three C’s are trivially satisfied for ourselves. It is more interesting to examine situations where it is less obvious how to get capability care and core.
 
It might be obvious, but the more critical the adoption of these principles for a business is, then the easier it is to make progress towards them. It’s also worth keeping in mind that if the need is missing that isn’t nececerrily a bad thing.
 
Advice on companies looking for opportunities?
 
Innovation and s not always the answer. Why is there an implicit assumption that innovation is required? Ask yourself why do you really care about innovation in your business at this time? If you can answer this question then you will begin to move towards more tangible goals than innovation for its own sake.
 
Try to tease apart the motivations for innovation. Do they come from a desire for relevance? This also needs to be deconstructed. If you simply wish to be innovative for relevance without further elaboration, then perhaps focusing on moving the needle on the three C’s – Capability, Care, and Core will put in place the building blocks for meaningful innovation, and will be a valuable exercise regardless of if the result can or can’t be called innovation.

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