We interview innovation leaders from around the world and share their insights on corporate innovation.
Mark Campbell, Chief Innovation Officer at EVOTEK, derives insights from the venture and startup communities to enable technical executives to identify, evaluate and leverage emerging technologies. His 30 years of US and international experience allow him to cut through the buzzwords in his frequent presentations, webinars, articles and podcasts.
The biggest thing I learned this year was how quickly IT departments and the technology industry pivoted to meet the almost instantaneous changes introduced by lockdown, travel-restrictions and health & safety threats. Overnight, we saw many corporate IT and security departments transform their companies from office-centric hubs into distributed remote workforces. Behind the scenes, this transformation only came about through long hours, ingenious innovation and an unhealthy amount of duct tape. In parallel, the tech firms adapted their products and features for the realities of a distributed workforce and helped replace a considerable amount of that duct tape.
The emerging technology areas I’m most interested in are those adapting and enabling the world we’ll live and work in come 2021. The traditional methods built for a pre-pandemic world are just not well-suited for the world we live in today let alone the one we’ll need in the future. Specifically, virtual call centers, conversational AI, smart edge, and remote collaboration solutions are enabling workflows for a virtual workforce.
The most accurate predictor of a company’s capacity for innovation is its size and age. Larger and older companies find it all but impossible to innovate – despite spending a ton of budget on it. Incumbent corporations can often develop incremental improvements for existing solutions but history (and The Innovator’s Dilemma) shows they seldom disrupt anything beyond the brand of coffee in the break room. As a proof point, one need only look at the build vs buy decisions swinging heavily to the buy-side (public cloud being a prime example) and the increased acquisition of small startups for their IP, processes or people. Innovation is more expensive and risky than “Out-ovation”.
Yes, there certainly are expectations like Google Kubernetes, Intel Optane, and Amazon AWS – but, by definition, an exception is just that…exceptional. And don’t be distracted by how many patents BigCorp filed last year. Patents are an artifact of a legal department, not an innovation department.
I think starting next year we are going to see a growing wave of emerging tech companies offer versions of their pre-pandemic offerings adapted for the new work environment. Look for adaptive smart spaces and AI-assisted collaboration tools for a distributed workforce, seamless in-line multi-factor authorization for remote workers, cross-enterprise automation, and conversational AI permeating many human-machine interfaces.
This report draws on our work driving change at large companies as well as from thought leadership in the space of not just management literature, but also evolutionary biology, psychology and sociology, because in order to see things clearly and influence human behaviour, we need to think holistically.