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Digital Pulse

in·no·va·tion – A creation resulting from study and/or experimentation. The act of starting something new.

dis·rup·tion – An act of delaying or interrupting continuity. An event that results in displacement or discontinuity. The act of causing disorder.

Digital change is a journey, not a destination.
It requires agility and flexibility to underpin a continually evolving business environment.

Industry Change – The ongoing economic, technological and social development of commercial business and market sectors.

Beyond the problem statement – Building a business case for innovation

Key takeaways

  • A thorough cross-functional evaluation of potential solutions can result in a clearer elocution of problem statements
  • An innovation committee will assist a business to deal with the funnel of development requests in a more meaningful way
  • The makeup of an ‘innovation committee’ should include development, operational, and deployment specialists as well as IT resources

In the first two articles in our three-part series, ‘Why defining the problem statement is half the battle‘ and ‘Defining direction: Developing a problem statement for the ‘untested’ idea‘, we explored the impact of poorly articulated problem statements on various business projects. In the last article of this series, we examine strategies and considerations for businesses that are aiming to build out their case for innovation.

In building a plan for innovation, a thorough cross-functional evaluation of potential solutions can result in a clearer elocution of problem statements, as well as the identification of additional business benefits. In order to achieve a successful innovation plan, it is essential to allocate time to key activities, including idea generation, evaluation, design, development, deployment and testing which should be performed in a continuous cycle.

Gathering an innovation committee

If the question, ‘what problem are we trying to solve’, is not answered then businesses might become engaged in delivering on initiatives which don’t deliver any tangible value. Formation of an innovation committee will assist a business to deal with the funnel of development requests in a more meaningful way. Using expert third parties, the assessment of ideas can be prioritised by business team members but filtered critically by subject matter experts. Knowing when to kill an idea that’s not hitting key metrics is as critical as progressing those ideas that are.

Spending more time on evaluation with a panel of experts, will strengthen a concept prior to development. It will provide many of the metrics required to measure the success of the initiative and the logical points at which to invest or cease funding. The makeup of the panel should include development, operational, and deployment specialists as well as IT resources.

Inclusion of IT resources during the evaluation process will provide much needed implementation and deployment advice. The commentary IT provides may affect viability of the concept, in turn changing the level of investment and time required to reach desired success metrics. Factors such as a strategy to develop, cost to deliver and technical marketing requirements must be considered in the context of any given idea.

Trekking towards a bigger picture

A one-size-fits-all approach to developing a business case for innovation is usually unsuccessful. By defining the problem in more detail and scrutinising all aspects of a concept, businesses may define contextually relevant financial and governance regimes to suit the specific initiative. Finance departments should set the funding, governance and measurement regimes to meet the delivery timetable and test uptake – get it out fast but don’t over invest until you see the project behaving as desired.

Marketing functions such as integration with social media, search engine optimisation (SEO), and established methods for distribution (specifically useful for e-commerce) should be enabled by the software. However,  these functions are often ignored until after project launch. Bringing in subject matter experts during evaluation will help businesses cost out and enable these functions so that investment in awareness and acquisition don’t hamper a business’ ability to grow – or worse, cause sponsors to lose faith and remove support.

The startup process inherently operates in the manner described above partially because it must due to financial constraints, but also because it wants to target a very specific problem and solve it. If it gains traction, it is this advantage that will move it up the value chain. In order to compete, enterprise organisations must think in the same way or they will lose opportunities to fast-moving startups and continue to provide obvious points of attack.

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