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Does advancing Technology mean Innovation?

Technology should be considered as an enabler and a means to achieve innovation; it is not innovation by itself.

By Roberto Wik

Much is discussed about innovation and its impact on technology. After all, isn’t technology responsible for innovation? What so the well-known cases of, for example, Uber, Airbnb and Waze have in common? All of them appeared as an innovative solution, and of course, technology was part of them. Technology, however, was not the main catalyst; it merely supported and enabled an innovative approach that brought benefit and value to customers. This is the reason why many expect innovative solutions to fail, they are focused on the technology, rather than considering the strategy, processes, and people as part of the product or service to be delivered. Even the most advanced technological solution, if not focused on customer benefit and value, will fail.

“According to IDC, organizations are now focusing on producing software embedded in products and services”.

It is possible that you have today about five digital devices connected that all act as borders between the digital and the physical universe, making the physical almost disappear, a phenomenon called “phygital”. Internet of Things (IoT) is taking us on a journey of transforming an essentially physical world into a “phygital” world without realizing the difference. According to IDC, organizations are now focusing on producing software embedded in products and services to compete in their industry and most of this production of digital innovation will be focused on creating new value for customers. IDC predicts that within the next 3-5 years, every enterprise – regardless of the industry – will shift into a “digital innovation factory”.

Currently, a car has an average of over one hundred sensors. Half of them monitor the function and performance of the engine; others manage anti-lock braking systems, active control of traction and suspension, and tire pressure. From the point of view of safety, reliability and comfort, cars have never been better – and the future promises only more progress. So why do most features designed for new cars today – for comfort, ease of use, navigation and even safety – remain unused after the first few weeks of car purchase? Do people try them and then disable or ignore them? What is missing? The answer seems to be in the following statement: sensors make sense when cars are built for people. Cars are designed with features that designers find attractive and important, but engineers and technologists often develop entire features and products without examining how drivers and passengers behave.

When referring to data, we hear that “Data is King” or “Data is the new Oil”. In fact, companies have an almost unlimited amount of data and information in their possession, being able to build and implement immensely powerful Datalake using a variety of high-end technologies. However, the big challenge is not tied to technology; it is to follow the path from obtaining this raw data and transforming it into informational wisdom. In other words, the challenge is finding ways to transform that data into intelligence and use it to gain advantage thereby improving the experience, satisfaction of the product or service and generating value to customers. According to a worldwide survey conducted by Gartner with 196 organizations, 91% of companies have not yet reached a desired maturity level in this transformation of data into insights. Understanding the past, predicting the future and defining actions in their business strategy in the search for expected results is a refined skill that needs to be explored further.

“91% of companies have not yet reached a desired maturity level in this transformation of data into insights”.

Forrester has predicted the Robotic process automation (RPA) software market to reach $2.9 billion in 2021. While RPA interest has been high for a while, actual adoption is now catching up. Although organizations understand the power of RPA and the benefits it can bring by eliminating repetitive processes, companies have struggled with implementing it by focusing only on technology. The value and impact on business was in the background. According to E&Y as many as 30 to 50% of initial RPA projects fail and this is not a reflection of the technology. Some of the reasons identified were not considering RPA as business led, as opposed to IT led; underestimating what happens after processes have been automated; treating robotics as a series of automations vs. an end-to-end change program; targeting RPA at the wrong processes.

The crux of the problem, as we see, is that many technology solutions today are being designed without sufficient focus on human experiences and the value and benefit they bring. In fact, they underperform if not focused on design for the “human” adding tangible value. When thinking about innovating, think about innovating the Customer Experience and what benefits you bring, use technology to support and accelerate the innovative journey.

Sources: Gartner; IDC, Lumen, E&Y

Roberto Wik is Vecte’s Director of Technology and Innovation. With more than 20 years experience in multinational Business and Technology Consulting companies, he worked for 3 years in procurement portals in Brazil and the Middle East, as well as having worked in the largest hospital in Latam the 3rd largest global aviation company. Graduated in Mechanical Engineering, he has an Executive MBA in Finance. Vecte is a Brazilian specialized management consultant firm that deliveries high value projects for its Clients constant challengers for transformation and evolution. Vecte can also support foreign companies in doing business in Brazil (www.vecte.com.br)

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