By Patricia Martinez, Expedition PR
Every day, technology changes the way we work and communicate at work. Over the past decades, technology has proven to be incredibly useful tool to innovate business models and make operations more efficient. Mobile and social channels have paved new ways to collaborate, often in virtual teams, and engage with customers. Many Fortune 500 companies as well as startups can testify about the benefits of a technology-savvy business approach. The commitment to innovation is a core pillar in mission statements from companies of all sizes around the world.
The rapid pace of technology development requires having in place a team with diverse technical and business skills. This is often perceived to be a daunting task for both startups – used to bootstrapping – and large corporations, which try to
keep operations lean.
However, it’s not that different from seeking help for legal or marketing capabilities.
The solution is co-innovation. Working together with outside IT consultants to bridge the gap between the internal resources and the resources and skills needed to reach the business objective. IT services provider can bring in specific IT expertise, including mobile and cloud, and collaborate with the in-house team on the IT infrastructure development and transformation.
This model is not entirely new: for centuries, countries and cultures have obtained resources and services from others that do offer them, probably with better quality and prices, which made possible the birth of international commerce. What is new is that by allowing team members to work together via social and mobile channels, technology not only addresses the IT infrastructure needs of a company, it also expands a company’s creative capital.
For example, one of our clients is the global IT services provider Freeborders. Headquartered in San Francisco with offices in China, Malaysia and Europe, the company helps companies align their IT and business strategy. Their clients bring in Freeborders team members to complement their team with industry expertise and technical skill sets – and together – drive business growth.
With the advantages that a company could perceive through the co-innovation model, there is always a process to follow, and questions to answer in the meantime. Here are some considerations:
1. Calculated risk or just go-with-the-flow: The fact that more companies are implementing this model with great success, doesn’t mean you’re getting left behind. It’s always useful to consider the potential opportunities, advantages, risks and costs to decide on your own approach to adopting a co-innovation model.
2. Building your dream team. Chances are, not all members of your dream team are in your backyard. Today, virtual team structures allow you to spread your team across the world, from China to India to Ukraine. This will also allow you to work in all time zones.
3. Operational resources. There is an abundance of outside resources to choose from, from specialized niche consultants to global consulting firms. To make a decision on where to base a large fraction of the team, check out the Global Competitiveness Report to get a pulse on a country’s investment in IT infrastructure and innovation.
4. Legal security. Every game needs clear rules, so it’s good to check the guarantees the local government offers to companies that invest in their territory, and the requirements the companies would have to follow. For example, some countries interested in attracting foreign investment have industry clusters, where companies that offer complementary services establish operations in the same area, sharing costs and saving time and money.
5. Evaluation. It is crucial to check regularly where the co-innovation model is taking your company. How will you compare the results achieved before and after and report to the management team? A sound evaluation process will measure the level progress made, in business terms. Think of ways to capture the creative capital that your company amassed through a collaborative approach.
Even though co-innovation is not as new, technology has certainly made the difference between how it was before and how we see it today. We live in a globalized world full of interdependent economies. Co-innovation can offer responses to the challenges that companies are facing and keep them on a growth path by using the latest technologies.