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Lessons in Innovation

WWT CEO Jim Kavanaugh discusses the steps and attitudes necessary to succeed at innovation.

Innovation. Every company wants it; few achieve it. Today we launched a campaign with Cisco about a true innovator.

Mercy Virtual is a “hospital without walls” where caregivers are using tablets, sensors, custom applications and analytics to monitor and treat patients in real time before their health situations become dire.

In addition to Mercy Virtual realizing transformational clinical and business outcomes, one of the reasons we’re so excited to work with them is because of their commitment to innovation.

While there’s no magic formula for innovation, I do see parallels between what Mercy Virtual has done to become an innovator and what we’re focused on at WWT to foster innovation.

How to lay the groundwork to realize the greatest differentiator

Connect technology to business outcomes

Many organizations make big investments in technology without thinking about the business outcomes they’re trying to achieve. It’s key to map innovative, leading-edge technology to business outcomes if you want to create new business models and unique end-user experiences.

Ideation is a powerful tool to make this connection, and it’s the starting point on our customers’ journey from idea to outcome. Ideation is visual thinking designed to unleash the art of the possible where everyone at the table – usually representatives from IT and lines of business – have an equal voice. Through this hyper-brainstorming, different stakeholders empathize with the needs of others and prioritize actions that will have the biggest impact on the organization as a whole.

I can tell you from experience that incorporating ideation into everyday life at WWT has accelerated our ability to unearth and execute new ideas.

Don't be afraid to disrupt yourself

Technology is changing so fast that companies need to be willing to disrupt themselves if they want to then disrupt the market.

Many well positioned organizations make the mistake of not exploring leading-edge, differentiated solutions because they’re afraid they may cannibalize some of their business. The uncomfortable truth is that that may happen at the end of the day, but if they stand on the sidelines, they’ll never provide next-generation solutions.

I see a lot of organizations disrupting themselves to combat not having a strong hold in the market, but the time to disrupt is when your organization is on top of its game. It’s when you’re most comfortable that it’s most important to experiment with the latest technology to innovate.

Focus on delivering an experience

If organizations want to innovate, they can’t always think of technology investments in terms of ROI. They need to see technology investments as a means to provide a differentiated experience for their customers and employees.

Competitors can offer similar products and services through technology, say video or applications, but they can’t offer the same experience as an organization that’s taken the time to apply these technologies to create transformational business solutions based on the needs of their customers and employees.

Invest in a technology platform

Today it’s not just about being in front when it comes to technology, it’s about having the ability to pivot as the market changes. Make sure your technology investments build toward creating a platform in which employees can experiment with new technology.

This may mean investing in service delivery models for your IT department to spin up development environments or exploring lab as a service offerings so engineers can test new technologies away from your production environment. At WWT we’ve made huge investments in our lab services as part of our Advanced Technology Center, which our customers use as a platform to experiment with the latest technology for accelerated decision-making and deployment.

Create a culture of innovation

A focus on innovation should be communicated from the top down but be informed with ideas from the bottom up. Good ideas come from anywhere at any time.  All employees need to know your organization is a place where they have the resources and culture to experiment, take chances and fail as they do so.

Not only will you have more innovative employees, but you’ll also become an organization that attracts top and ambitious talent. Successful collaboration creates a force multiplier of information and intelligence that allows you to come up with and execute on innovative ideas that you never thought were possible.

The path toward innovation

As innovative technologies and experiences disrupt the marketplace, it’s essential to understand that these advances weren’t born overnight. They were the product of hard and continuous work built on a solid foundation.

Leading technology, business outcomes, agility, culture, collaboration. It can take a long time for these components to come together. But when they do, it’s amazing the innovation that can occur.