If you look at the evolution of humans, it is a perpetual journey of innovation. The early roots of stone tool innovation date back to more than 300,000 years ago. Researchers argue that these evolutionary changes coincided with a prolonged period of strong climatic and landscape change. Juxtaposing this historical perspective with the current scenario that is marred by uncertainties like a global pandemic, climate change and depleting natural resources, we unearth a few important realizations that can be applied to today’s businesses. Those are –
- Innovation is existential at any time and space.
- Nobody is exempt.
- Crisis drives accelerated adoption of innovation.
- Collaboration / Co-Innovation is the only way to win against time.
An ideal example that brings these realizations to life is the Coronavirus pandemic. The scale of the pandemic is such that expanding the reach of medical infrastructure is an existential need and no country on the planet is exempt from doing so. The crisis accelerated innovation to such an extent that something like a vaccine which took decades to develop earlier, was now ready within 6-12 months with reasonable efficacy. Portable ventilators are also great examples of how collaboration between academia, pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, and supply chain companies accelerated the time to market to scale these innovations and in making them available globally.
Rising market expectations for innovation from enterprises
Supply chains across the world were constrained by the sudden fall in demands forced by the lockdowns across the globe in 2020. Suddenly, they’re now being forced to restore services at higher efficiencies than before the pandemic to address the shortage in critical healthcare equipment, medicines, personal protective gears, and oxygen during the second wave of COVID. The complexities of vaccine transportation through secure cold chains is an added responsibility on the supply chain enterprises.
Contactless delivery is a growing demand from eCommerce and Food Delivery organizations. Domino’s is rolling out a robot car delivery service to select customers in Houston by partnering with a start-up. Amazon has already completed pilots for its drone delivery service for small packages.
Even in the highly sensitive Banking domain, customers have adapted quickly to the new ways of living, and touchless banking is a part of this new normal. Forbes has reported that the overall usage of contactless payments in U.S. has risen 150% since March 2019. In fact, even before the pandemic, USA online banking statistics showed that 80% of Americans would rather bank digitally than visit a brick-and-mortar branch. The change in consumer behavior is a long-term phenomenon and banks need to quickly move towards digital banking, lending and payments business models.
Today, large organizations are looking at remote working not just as a stop-gap arrangement, but as a long-term strategy even after the pandemic recedes. They need to quickly ramp up their remote working infrastructure that is built for a small number of employees and prepare it for seamless access to thousands of employees.
Rising enterprise expectations for innovation from technology partners
These consumer-driven trends signify that innovation can no longer simply be a guiding principle of organizational strategy. It is rather a means of sustenance and a harbinger of growth for enterprises that will thrive in future.
The shift towards an autonomous future led by enterprise automation and faster adoption of AI and digital technologies is common in almost all industries. The stress that industries have gone through due to the pandemic has only catalyzed this shift. Businesses are expecting technologies like cloud, AI, AR/VR, IoT, robotics, autonomous systems and blockchain to show ROI at 10X the speed in 1/3rd the time. This coupled with an accelerated focus on sustainability, equality and diversity, localization, and the need to make enterprises resilient to future disruptions and safe for employees has made it imperative for today’s enterprises to have a concerted strategy around innovation.
A significant decrease in the lead-time to bring innovations to the market will foster a culture of co-innovation with multiple partners across the value chains, and this will be the business strategy of the future. Sharing investments, IP rights and revenue to accelerate innovation is a reality now, while the gig economy is becoming the new global workforce.
Synergize to catalyze innovation
Organizations are no longer looking for System Integrators, but partners who can power their innovation journey and make it a reality. This emphasizes the need for an outside-in approach by technology partners. They need to focus on the ‘What’ aspect first, and then figure the ‘How’, rather than designing ‘How’ and losing sight of ‘What’. Understanding the need of their customers’ customers and the challenges that enterprises are facing in addressing those needs is the first step towards becoming valued partners. They need to identify patterns and think about building repeatable domain or horizontal technology solutions.
Enterprises need ‘business solutions’ that are capable of radically transforming their business processes, models and consumer experiences at scale. They need solutions that can quickly modernize their IT landscapes, and are capable of helping them transcend into connected and intelligent enterprises by leveraging technologies like AI, IoT, 5G, data analytics, autonomous systems and blockchain, and solutions that can ensure trust by addressing the changes in the security, privacy and regulatory landscapes globally.
These business solutions can essentially be integrated offerings that cover the whole nine yards of business, process, and technology transformation. They can be composites that have IP-based assets at their core and are packaged along with people-based expertise, capabilities from partners or start-ups, and are targeted to solve specific business challenges. Business solutions can be built by integrating expertise in various forms, be it intellectual properties, products, platforms, tools, accelerators, frameworks, patented technologies, skills, business process services and so on.
A co-innovation-led future
The geographic boundaries across the globe have significantly blurred with the rise of globalization. However, organizational boundaries remain significantly intact. The future, though, will see an increasingly intertwined business ecosystem where enterprises will not just collaborate vertically across their value chains but also horizontally with their so-called competitors. Technology providers are at an inflection point today and are poised to become pioneers in driving this change. Consumer-facing companies cannot wait for a technology partner to build a capability and then deploy. The start-up ecosystem across major countries is thriving and technology providers need to provide the much-needed impetus by packaging start-up offerings along with their domain and technology skills to scale adoption of joint business solutions.
Large cloud service providers are betting big on their partner programs and are seeking support from managed services providers in building innovative solutions, porting them on cloud and hosting them on their marketplaces. It is time technology providers forge meaningful partnerships to achieve mutual business goals while enabling the best possible business solutions to enterprises.
The uncertainty that we experience today surrounding the demand, supply and growth of global economies has led to a volatility in organizational spending patterns at various levels since a few months. However, we believe that investment in innovation should not be a casualty of this short-term strategy.
Consumer behavior is changing rapidly, and enterprises are being forced to transform their entire strategy, business models, technology landscapes and approach towards serving their customers. Continuous innovation and collaboration are the only vaccines that can provide the immunity enterprises need to not just survive but also thrive in this world of rising uncertainties and consumer expectations.
For information about how Wipro’s innovative business solutions can help drive business, process, and technology transformation for you, click here.