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March 05, 2015
Bridgemakers-Guiding Enterprise Disruption through Open Innovation
By: Jitendra Kavathekar

At Accenture, we’ve had a number of clients across industries ask us how emerging technology trends could impact their businesses. Start-ups are innovating rapidly and capturing market share at exceptional rates. Box, a nine-year-old company just went public with a valuation of $1.7 billion, and Airbnb and Uber have disrupted the hospitality and taxi industries respectively in just five years.

Large enterprises are sensing the threat of disruption and needing to innovate more rapidly to stay competitive. At the same time, start-ups are interested in exploring routes to market, finding partners to support their growth and testing new use cases in the field.

At Accenture Open Innovation, we clearly see a large opportunity for both parties to have a mutually beneficial relationship. While digital enterprises and start-ups compete to disrupt their markets, they could also come to the forefront of their industries by working together. By co-developing solutions that leverage start-up technology and the enterprise’s market size and business experience, they can both accelerate growth and realize their larger business goals—in the true spirit of open innovation.

However, we also see a disconnect between the two groups that makes practicing open innovation a challenge. Large companies can be too risk averse when looking for the right innovation partners. They may also find it difficult to pursue agile development cycles and pilots to reach full-scale deployments. Early-stage companies are agile innovators, and time is an essential resource. They don’t have the bandwidth to navigate the complexities of internal enterprise systems, business processes and partnership agreements.

Bridging the chasm 
One effective solution for both parties is to work with a bridgemaker, a third-party or internal function that can help connect an organization to the appropriate partners, mitigate conflicts and support end-to-end co-innovation. Bridgemakers ultimately can guide disruption for the digital enterprise by de-risking the engagement, scaling the technology and deploying the innovation to realize new value.

Accenture has a unique position as a bridgemaker, being a global consulting company that connects our clients to strategy, digital, technology and operations solutions to enable business transformation. Through Accenture Open Innovation, we build on this by helping start-up innovations become a core part of our clients’ vision and overall success.

What’s more, we factor in all of the other work required to make the vision a reality. For example, an enterprise may be interested in emerging facial and vocal recognition technologies that could provide sentiment analysis and help improve customer satisfaction scores. To make it a reality, the company needs to find the right technology that can be incorporated into their business processes. They also need to integrate the technology with existing systems, and make sure it’s secure and can scale. Finally, they need to train the customer service team to use the technology to meet business objectives.

Accenture Open Innovation guides our clients through this process from discovery through development to deployment.

Accelerating through the maturity curve
While working with clients on their innovation agenda, we have encountered various levels of commitment to open innovation. Some executives recognize that there is value in engaging with the start-up ecosystem, but they fail to act beyond visiting an innovation hub. Others commit further, setting up a post in the Silicon Valley to scan start-ups or launching their own accelerator, corporate fund or R&D lab. However, these companies still have difficulties impacting their core business, as they are internally siloed or lack the infrastructure to support efforts beyond the discovery phase.

The most mature clients have fostered a culture and commitments from all executives to apply open innovation on specific transformations for the enterprise. Once they identify a problem, they use co-innovation to solve that problem and transform their business.

Regardless of where clients are on the maturity curve, the important thing is that they continue moving through the process. Accenture Open Innovation can engage with enterprises at each stage on the curve. We are committed to helping our clients progress so that they not only discover new ideas, but also rapidly take action and realize the benefits of open innovation.

To learn more about our Open Innovation philosophy, I encourage you to read “Bridgemakers—Guiding Enterprise Disruption through Open Innovation.” Our point of view outlines the imperative for enterprises to embrace open innovation; describes how bridgemakers make connections across the innovation ecosystem, which includes start-ups, universities and other companies; and provides a structure to help companies begin practicing open innovation now.

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