How to Find Your Next Breakthrough

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“Ideas are like fish. If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deeper. Down deep the fish are more powerful and more pure. They’re huge and abstract. And they’re beautiful.” — director David Lynch

Entrepreneurs have always known to keep their lines in the deep water. With lean, nimble and agile organizations, they have reaped rewards by bringing fresh ideas and products to market.

In today’s digital age, entrepreneurs are creating unprecedented levels of industry dislocation and fragmentation while eroding the value chain of legacy companies and large enterprises. Business leaders, in turn, face enormous pressure to evolve their companies towards a culture of innovation in order to compete, or really — to survive.

Finding the evolutionary breakthrough that sustains is no easy task given the bureaucracy, inertia, and risk aversion large corporations must wade through. Saul Berman, Chief Strategist, Vice President & Interactive Experience Partner for IBM Global Business Services, says one starting place is to do some corporate soul searching.

“You need to think like an entrepreneur and understand how emerging technologies enable the re-envisioning of the customer experience,” says Berman. Indeed, large organizations that have successfully transformed in the digital era recognize the great influence wielded by a new generation of demanding and technologically savvy customers.

Here are three prerequisites for finding the breakthrough:


Reimagine the Work Environment

As Berman suggests, successful companies embrace the reality of technological change and disruption. They extend that mindset across the context of the entire business ecosystem. From there, all activity and behaviors are focused on innovation and finding ways to sustain innovation momentum. “It’s about envisioning the possible as opposed to incrementally changing and extrapolating the current capability,” says Berman.

Acknowledging past successes is well and fine, but to compete in the digital age, large organizations must stay focused on the future.


Explore New Ways to Fill Knowledge Gaps

Successful organizations fish for new insights from a variety of spots and depths, and leverage big data and analytics to understand the nature of their haul. They measure repeatedly and curate integrated information. One way to facilitate this process is to build a network of experts with embedded skills who “introduce new technologies to explore new kinds of customer experiences and understand how your value chains or ecosystem might change,” says Berman.

Within that framework, leaders must have the courage to leap into uncharted waters when they present themselves. The Ford Motor Company, for example, is using data from its connected cars and autonomous vehicles to create a mobility service provider through an app called FordPass.

The acquisition of new technologies can unsettle operating procedures at large organizations. That’s why it’s important to view tech as a tool for creating new opportunities.


Test and Be Ready to Scale Up

Creating pilots and prototypes using agile development, and then testing with customers and getting them to market quickly promotes feedback and iteration.

Take IBM’s partnership with a leading agriculture company. The original mission was to cull data from IOT connected tractors to improve predictive maintenance. IBM helped the company realize that data collected from the devices pulled behind those tractors offered an additional bounty. By leveraging the cloud and new data streams through deep analytics, they came to a breakthrough: A software application that helps farmers reduce water waste and improve crop yield.

By tapping into the speed of digital technology, organizations can conceive of what their customers want before they even want it.

Industry dislocation and fragmentation are simply the way of the business world today. But legacy companies have unique assets, such as experience, talent, and funding that can help them transform and find their breakthrough. The oceans are deep, after all.

Learn more about digital reinvention and how we can help find your breakthrough.

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