Conversation round up

From service providers, to technology providers and providers of finance

Yesterday’s conversations in London covered a variety of topics, with numerous entities, the common theme, as you might imagine, was discovering and working with innovative, emerging technologies.

Introducing innovation in large organisations

Find any founder of a B2B start-up and ask them about how they find working with large organisations. I’ll be willing to wage you a handsome bet that after the groans and moans, the sharing of metaphorical (and sometimes physical) scars, common themes will be around the difficulty, confusion, and amount of time it takes to get things done.
Speak with many of the people in large organisations who are responsible for trying to bring innovative ideas into the company and you will hear much of the same.
Many of yesterday’s discussions revolved around this topic, with some interesting findings:

Incubator innoculation

Incubators and accelerators are trendy ways to try and bring innovation into organisations, but as we’ve covered before, these aren’t for everyone and the word on the street is that they are rapidly going out of favour due to misaligned expectation of delivery and time-to-value.

Don’t eat all the cake

With the political, budget and resource constraints of many large organisations, it is tempting to try to solve big to win big. Getting the chance to innovate in many corporations is a luxury not a given, so when given the opportunity, many try to make a big impression, fast.
Solving big issues is thorny and thwart with political and procedural issues. Many of the big wins for emerging technologies reside in solving small problems – but lots of them, quickly and efficiently.
The challenge for organisations is how to nurture the attitude of small wins in big business, and enable it to thrive.

Turn champions into functions

For those innovators that have been successful with large companies, the answer normally can be found in the internal sponsors, or champions, they found. These sponsors would have most likely had a very difficult time managing stakeholders, navigating policy and defending against political manoeuvres.
One organisation we spoke to yesterday has realised this, and has created dedicated teams that are there to help create the right environment for testing out new ideas. They’ve found ways to work with the procedures and guidelines to allow them to be more nimble when on-boarding new suppliers. They’ve discovered how to speak with the naysayers to help them become supporters and understand the reason behind the “we’ve always done it this way” to frame the project within the guide-rails.
As internal champions their roles are to bust through the internal barriers to allow innovation to happen at pace. What they need more of is innovative companies to put through the process – and that’s where we come in.

Revitalise dying products

Much of the corporate resistance to introducing innovation comes from adverse reactions to change and risk. Doing something different is risky, and when that risk can have an impact on your livelihood, it is multiplied.
A great tip I heard today was to focus innovation on revitalising dying or end of life products. Perhaps a star product is no longer performing because the demand changed, the price point lowered or a competitor started offering something better for less.
If you could innovate that product to give it a new lease of life, you’d have new revenues, retained and new customers from a product that is already provisioned in your systems, that marketing know how to market, and sales know how to sell.
So look at products that used to sell well, but are now dwindling and ask, “is there an innovative answer to reduce cost, increase appeal or create more flexibility for our customers”. The answer is most likely yes. If you need help, get in touch.

And that’s not the half of it

It was a busy day, yesterday. In addition to the points above we discussed how perhaps the promised national infrastructure for electric-vehicle (EV) charging points may be redundant before it even arrives. How to model technical and commercial feasibility for Industry 4.0 connectivity. How publicly available anonymised data sets can be conflated to derive dangerous levels of personal information. And, finally, how blockchain can be used to track and control personal medical information, and actually allow more sharing of personal data to improve health outcomes.

Scott Stonham

Scott is Chief Technology & Innovation Officer at He has been at the forefront of many technologies we take for granted today, including mobile internet and smartphone navigation. Today he helps clients navigate innovative emerging technologies and is available for speaking opportunities.

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