Innovation and Transformation at Speed

 In Digital Transformation

In my last blog, I emphasized on the fact that Born-digital companies are eating the world by doing things differently and innovating new business models. Taking a step further, it is interesting to analyze HOW exactly these companies manage to innovate so rapidly and respond to market changes so quickly.

E.g. When Delhi Government (National Capital Territory of India) announced odd-even car schemes on roads in January’16, cab aggregator service OLA announced ‘car pool’ feature for citizens to pool rides via their own cars while using OLA app. This kind of rapid response to policy change is what differentiates Born-Digital companies from their legacy competitors!

If one opens the hood and studies the characteristics of how such rapid innovation is institutionalized, one will observe some common practices being incorporated:

  1. Design thinking has taken the center stage in innovation since human-centric and empathy-driven approach becomes the essential part of service delivery. The whole thought process is governed by “Empathize -> Define -> Ideate -> Prototype -> Test” methodology. In human-centric approach, customer experience takes precedence over technology feasibility and it becomes the tool to solve complex unknown problems. When iPhone redefined the paradigm of touch technology in 2007, it completely transformed the human-centric design space and changed the way we, humans interact with technology! Design Thinking also brings drastic business transformation and that’s exactly how Indra Nooyi transformed Pepsi by using Design Thinking at key strategy.
  2.  Hackathons have become a key way of fostering innovation and crowd-sourcing tough problem solution. It is an intense, focused and time-boxed approach towards creative problem solving. Facebook, Twitter, Google have institutionalized hackathon as continuous innovation engine. Facebook’s popular features of ‘like’ and ‘share’ are product of such innovation hackathon. Hackathons are also being done by open source community for open innovation, by cities for smart city solution ideas, or by tech communities to promote or celebrate cause like Women’ Day. As Rahul Dubey elaborated in his blog, Hackathon as Service is not just an idea but a reality to make innovation a continuous process in enterprises.
  3.  Continuous-X /DevOps Culture as mainstream strategy: In order to keep the pace of rapid business innovation, engineering teams adopt Continuous-X approach i.e. continuous development -> integration -> build -> test -> delivery -> monitoring -> fallback. One of the most popular statistics of continuous-X is how Amazon deploys new changes to production every 11 seconds on an average. This kind of relentless pace can only be achieved by companies internalizing DevOps as a culture and not as a technology change. As per Puppetlab’s devops report, companies embracing DevOps deploy code 30x times more frequently with 200x shorter lead time.
  4.  Automation forms the fundamental pillar of devops since it requires orchestration of entire software tool chain. Whole cycle from software build to production as well as infrastructure provisioning on cloud requires automation at every stage.
  5.  Agile is inherent part of this culture where teams constantly deliver production ready features from product backlog in time-boxed manner. Design Thinking approach also gels perfectly well with agile development methodology where early feedback from users can be incorporated during product development.

So in a nutshell, we are looking new culture of software development that makes rapid innovation a reality to stay relevant in business. Design Thinking, Hackathon, Continuous-X, Automation and Agile are not really new technologies but create an amazing recipe blended together to make relentless, rapid and relevant innovations possible.

As Albert Einstein once said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Enterprises have to apply different rules of games or same rules differently to succeed and realize digital transformation at speed.

Do you think of any other pattern of methodology that can be added to this mix to make it even more potent? And finally, can this recipe be packaged together and sold as a service or expertise? (To be continued…)

Image Credits:The Red Arrow,s !

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