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April 26, 2018
Best practices for an innovation program
By: Brian McKillips

Many people attend college for four years (or longer). But you can learn a lot in just 18 months.

Much has happened since the September 2016 launch of Google Cloud and Accenture's strategic alliance. When we started, we were focused on jointly building cloud and mobile solutions and bringing them to market.

From those early days, the has evolved considerably, and the innovation capabilities we’ve developed are enabling Accenture to work with clients in new ways.

Now, we’re at a point where our team is continually identifying industry and client challenges, then building prototypes and testing, iterating and launching MVPs in as little as six to eight weeks. As previously mentioned, to be a serious competitor in the marketplace you must act fast.

For one enterprise client, the partnership team built an Android Application that leverages Google Cloud Vision API® to help field staff gain productivity and effectiveness.

The lessons learned have been invaluable, and the experience helped us zero in on at least a few best practices for running a successful Innovation Program. For example:

Adopt an “Agile Development” Mindset

Agile development revolves around a “build, measure and learn” feedback loop, allowing organizations to deliver products to users, test the results, and iterate again.

Agile development also encourages “rapid and flexible responses to change” and emphasizes the constant testing and iterating of products in the market. [1] Enterprises need to develop innovation programs that adopt these essential principles.

Develop #innovation programs that encourage rapid change response & emphasize constant product testing and iteration.

 
 

Incubate Outside of the Core Business

Another key finding: innovation proves more successful when concepts and solutions are incubated outside of the core business.

By setting up an incubation center that operates with no boundaries, innovators gain the freedom to fail. Though the innovation program should leverage inputs from the core business (for example, large data sets), it will accelerate faster if the program’s leader has established the capability elsewhere.

As reported in Forbes last year, “Culture transformation is driving Journey to the Cloud… we see more IT companies creating actual physical spaces - innovation centers - where talent is attracted and nurtured and small teams can gather to learn new skills and collaborate breakthrough innovations.”

Prioritize Diversity

A successful innovation program requires a mix of technical, business and industry skills.

Within this alliance, the Accenture team selects individuals to create a “pod” comprised of a diverse set of skills, experience and expertise. Typically, when we seek candidates for the pods, we seek subject matter experts from a specific industry.

Today’s economy features a convergence of industries, so clients are keen to learn from leaders in other fields. We’ve received positive feedback on this diverse personnel selection approach, directly from clients who hired Accenture to run their innovation program.

Activate a Two-Pronged Approach

When approaching new ideas and solutions, ensure your team takes a two-pronged approach:

  • Foundational/Reactive - Focused on redefining or revamping your existing business model and adopting solutions.

  • Disruptive/Proactive - Blurring industry boundaries and focused on future customer engagements and experiences.

For example, we co-developed an innovative solution that will allow a retail client to both compete with major players and disrupt the industry by leveraging mobility and Xtended Reality.

Enable Agility with Technology

Developing scalable ideas and concepts quickly requires you equip your team with the right tools and technologies. Our experience with Google Cloud’s technology stack illustrates how business can benefit: through lower costs, greater efficiency, new capabilities and more.

In our next blog post, we’ll delve further into our efforts to help clients develop new capabilities through Google Cloud’s technology stack.

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1 https://www.huffingtonpost.com/brian-de-haaff/12-principles-of-agile-so_b_9523990.html

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