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Innovation Series: Adam Long, Chief Technology & Innovation Officer at UNICO

Innovation Series: Adam Long, Chief Technology & Innovation Officer at UNICO
What's new: K-Startup Grand Challenge 2020 for Australian/New Zealand Startups! More information here.

What is the Innovation Series? 

We interview innovation leaders from around the world and share their insights on corporate innovation.

Innovation Leader: Adam Long

Adam Long is UNICO’s Chief Information Officer. He has over 27 years’ experience envisioning and delivering software projects and products. He has worked for leading global companies including ANZ Banking Group, Aviva, IBM, PwC and QSR International.

What has been your biggest learning as an innovation leader over the last 12 months? 

Attending the Harvard Business School course ‘Leading and Building a Culture of Innovation’, reflecting upon how the paradoxes of innovation have applied to our organisation, and how we can facilitate the necessary tensions of: 

  • Creative abrasion - a marketplace where diverse ideas compete through discourse and debate; 
  • Creative agility - ability to pursue new ideas quickly and proactively through experiments, analyse the outcomes, and adjust actions based on learnings; and 
  • Creative resolution - ability to make decisions that integrate disparate ideas into a unified solution.

Which technology are you most excited by and why? 

I am most excited and frightened by Artificial Intelligence (AI).  The possibilities of AI are truly infinite, from early diagnosis of chronic health conditions to self-driving autonomous cars.  Concerningly, Stephen Hawking described that full artificial intelligence would pose a threat to our existence and recently Elon Mask warned that humans risk being overtaken by AI within 5 years. 


What is the biggest barrier to corporate innovation you’ve encountered and how did or are you overcoming it? 

The biggest barrier to corporate innovation I faced was creating a sense of permission and perceived value to innovate as it conflicted with operational business practices, processes, and metrics.  To overcome this, we ran a 2-day company-wide hackathon during COVID-19 which forced us to run this completely remotely.  Over 50% of staff took part in a hack team and over 80% of staff attended the live hack pitches.  We also created a corporate accelerator named uSpark, initially focused on productising Unico developed IP, including a COVID-19 inspired solution for smart workspaces called JourneyHub.  Excitingly, we are launching uSpark in February to work with external collaborators. 


What will be the key trend in innovation over the next 12 months?  

COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of digitalisation in businesses, from the automation of manufacturing and logistics to the rapid adoption of new technologies in service industries.  We will see a more pronounced divide between businesses that experimented and adapted during COVID-19 versus businesses that struggled with the disruption.   The trend will be a continued shift to cloud computing and new business models emerging due to increased societal acceptance of new technology. 

Workflow Podcast

The WorkFlow podcast is hosted by Steve Glaveski with a mission to help you unlock your potential to do more great work in far less time, whether you're working as part of a team or flying solo, and to set you up for a richer life.

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To help you avoid stepping into these all too common pitfalls, we’ve reflected on our five years as an organization working on corporate innovation programs across the globe, and have prepared 100 DOs and DON’Ts.

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Unlock new opportunities and markets by taking your brand into the brave new world.

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Shay Namdarian

Shay is GM of Customer Strategy at Collective Campus, helping companies adopt the mindset, methods and tools to successfully explore new business models and disruptive innovation in an era of rapid change and growing uncertainty. He has over 8 years of experience working alongside organisations to implement design thinking and enhance customer experience. He has gained his experience across several consulting firms including Ernst & Young, Capgemini and Accenture. More recently, Shay has delivered design thinking training to employees (ranging from Analysts to Leadership) across traditional industries such Legal Services and Public Sector. Shay is also the co-founder of Barnaby, a men’s fashion socks brand providing customers with high quality and affordable men’s statement socks. After launching at the end of 2013, the brand is now stocked over 20 stores while building a strong social media presence and the brand has had placements in key publications including GQ, Startup Daily and The Daily Telegraph.

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