Archive for February, 2017


Who’s Leading Corporate Innovation? Examining the Corporate Innovator Persona

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Experience and Education Set the Foundation for Leadership.

This is a detailed breakout from our recent report on the Corporate Innovation Imperative, over the coming months, more will be revealed about how large companies are behaving like startups –while using their unique capabilities as a large organization.

Attracting the right talent for innovation is a challenge for corporations competing with shiny, agile startups, as is long-term employee retention. Innovative corporations are building innovation talent pools by offering interesting programs, intrapreneur growth, and worthwhile incentives. Because, without a focus on attracting and maintaining innovation leaders, corporations are left seeking a hero to guide their journey toward change.



(Above graphic, from the recent report The Corporate Innovation Imperative, download the partial version as full version is for Crowd Company members.)

In the report, we analyzed more than 140 LinkedIn profiles of individuals responsible for corporate innovation in varied industries and countries in order to create a persona of the average corporate innovation leader. Use these characteristics to guide your hiring and talent acquisition process, as well as gauge when leaders may be seeking opportunities for advancement or new challenges.

The term “Tundra” emerged as a common theme among corporate innovation leaders, as they described company culture, and specifically, middle management as the “frozen middle layer” or “Tundra” or other similar metaphors of a dense, rigid, cold layer. A more biological metaphor included “antibodies” that are designed to raise barriers to corporate risk. These are very creative, passionate, and motivated professionals.

Key Stats of the Corporate Innovator Persona:

  • Time spent in current role: 3.2 years. This shows that innovators need to know the business, as well as internal stakeholders, before generating new ideas. They must have credibility to sell up to executives. Many were recently hired from the outside, to shake up the inside, some have entrepreneurial backgrounds.
  • Duration of career: 18.6 years. Corporate innovation leaders aren’t fresh out of college. Rather, they have the experience and know-how to align minds and departments around change. Corporate innovation programs often rock the boat, and change agents need to have direct experience steadying the mast and pushing forward. Much of the success of innovation teams depends on internal alignment among tangential departments, like legal and marketing, to move from ideation through implementation.
  • Number of industries in career: 3. With experience comes a desire for variety. Our research uncovered that throughout their careers, corporate innovation leaders will apply their learning to further multiple areas of the business ecosystem.
  • Percentage with “innovation” in title: 61%. Not only do the majority of leaders have “innovation” in their current title, but 40% also had it in their previous role. This indicates that innovation requires a groundswell before reaching a level where resources are allocated toward dedicated leadership. This slow growth trend of innovation leaders reaching senior levels is also reflected in the fact that only 4% have the title of “Chief Innovation Officer.”
  • A highly educated cohort: 46% have an advanced degree. With age and experience often comes higher educational degrees, as is reflected in our finding that nearly half of corporate innovation leaders tout at least a master’s degree.

Mature corporations understand that an innovation program is only as good as the employees behind it. Follow in the footsteps of corporations like Verizon, which has multiple innovation teams in various business units, each with talented members dedicated to both ideation and execution. This helps them move efficiently to prototype and launch new innovations.

Also focus on talent retention, as there’s a commonplace and ever-present threat that your best and brightest will be poached (or, at the very least, approached) by competing corporations or startups. Leaders at mature organizations consistently ask themselves, “Are we doing enough to keep our most innovative employees happy?” The most effective incentives tie employee progress on innovation KPIs directly to pay structure.

I’ve even heard from these innovation leaders, that they’re willing to risk their jobs at their companies to make significant changes, despite butting up against the culture of non-change. One leader commented “I’m backing on my employability –not my employment” when I take risks. This entrepreneurial mindset is a key one to properly manage, and clear internal roadblocks for if an employer wants to retain these go-getters.

If you want to connect with fellow corporate innovation leaders, we, at Crowd Companies have hundreds of members that have this specific role, in our peer to peer council, who meet at our events, online, and beyond.

Report: The Corporate Innovation Imperative

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Our latest research report is now available, which was focused on how large companies are internally getting ready for the many waves of technology disruption that are here now, and coming. Companies need to be ready, with a dedicated innovation program –not just knee-jerk reacting to each new set of technologies that emerges. We asked a number of companies on how they defined innovation, and heard this common pattern:


“Corporate Innovation Defined: Doing something new that solves customers needs –even if it may be in conflict with your existing business”


 

We’ve made a high-level partial version available to the public on slideshare, but the full report is limited to our members at Crowd Companies. Over the coming months, we will publish other insights around corporate innovation.

 

Report Highlights:

  • The top challenges companies face in corporate innovation include: fostering an internal culture of experimentation and innovation (57%); juggling competing internal agendas and goals (56%); overcoming the middle management “permafrost” layer (45%); and moving forward despite deferred commitment and delayed action (33%).
  • Though 61% of innovation leaders have “innovation” in their title, only 4% have the title of “Chief Innovation Officer.”
  • Corporate innovation leaders aren’t fresh out of college. Rather, they have an average experience of 18.6 years, culminating in the know-how to align minds and departments around change.
  • There are 10 types of corporate innovation programs that companies pursue: corporate innovation team; innovation center of excellence; intrapreneur program; open innovation; innovation excursion; innovation outpost; technology education; external accelerator partnership; startup investment; and startup acquisition.
  • The most commonly deployed corporate innovation programs include corporate innovation teams (78.9%); innovation centers of excellence (61.4%); and technology education (54.4%). This shows that companies are first focusing internally on building the right teams, getting governance and processes in place, and educating current and new employees on emerging technologies before spending resources on rolling out external programs or investing in the startup scene.
  • The most common metric attached to innovation program success is increased revenue (66%), though that can be a fallacy metric if weighed too heavily too soon, before innovation programs have the chance to prove real ROI. Other top measures of success include greater customer satisfaction (54.5%) and faster time to market for new products or improvements (45.1%).

Who we Interviewed:
In addition to surveying large companies, we interviewed over 44 leaders at large companies, or at companies that closely partner with them on innovation initiatives.

  1. 500 Startups || Khailee Ng, Managing Partner
  2. Accenture || Jitendra Kavathekar, Managing Director of Open Innovation
  3. Achmea || Ilse Harmelink, Marketing Partners and Digital Marketing
  4. Adobe || Cindy Springsteel, Vice President of Global People Resources Business Partners
  5. ADT || Robert Beaver, VP Technology and Innovation
  6. AXA || Guillaume Cabrere, CEO AXA Lab in Silicon Valley
  7. Cisco || Alex Goryachev, Director of Corporate Strategic Innovation Group
  8. Colgate-Palmolive || Jenny Gomez, Marketing Director of Innovation
  9. Comcast || Danielle Cohn, Director of Entrepreneurial Engagement
  10. Electrolux || Heather Hanson, Global Head of Marketing Technology
  11. European Institute of Technology || Patrick Consorti, EU-US Industry Partnerships
  12. Fujitsu || Kevin Krejci, Business Development and Alliance Manager
  13. Fujitsu || Mohi Ahmed, Senior Director of Open Innovation Program
  14. Galvanize || Ryan Nadeau, Director of Special Projects
  15. GE || Alex Tepper, Managing Director of GE Ventures
  16. HP || Vincent Brissot, Head of Channel Marketing and Operations
  17. Ideation || Charles Lee, Founder and CEO
  18. Johnson & Johnson || Melinda Richter, Head of JLABS
  19. Leroy Merlin || Stephanie Hajjar, Head of Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  20. Mastercard || John Sheldon, SVP, Group Head of Innovation Management
  21. Nestle || Mark Brodeur, VP Digital Innovation
  22. Nexxworks || Peter Hinssen, Founder
  23. Nexxworks || Laurence van Elegem, Marketing and Communications
  24. Nexxworks || Steven van Belleghem, Founder
  25. Pilot44 Labs || Andrew Backs, Founder and Chief Innovation Strategist
  26. PostNL || Michel Bagli, Team Lead of Growth Strategy
  27. Protiviti || Jay Thompson, Managing Director
  28. Protiviti || Steven Massengill, Technology Consultant
  29. Rocketspace || Canice Wu, Director of Corporate Innovation
  30. Savvy Millennial || Savannah Peterson, Founder
  31. Sparks & Honey || Annalie Killian, Director Human Networks
  32. Stanford University || Reilly P. Brennan, Executive Director of REVS
  33. Swisscom || Gregory Leproux, Managing Director and VP Business Development
  34. Swisscom || Stefan Petzov, Principal Architect Swisscom Cloud Lab
  35. Swiss Post || Lorenz Wyss, Head of Ideation and Idea Management
  36. Swiss Post || Theirry Golliard, Head of Open Innovation and Venturing
  37. TD Ameritrade || Sunayna Tuteja, Lead Digital Strategy, Experience, and Innovation
  38. The Intrepreneur Lab || Milan Samani, Founder
  39. Visa || Shiv Singh, SVP Digital and Marketing Transformation
  40. Walt Disney Co. || Duncan Wardle, VP Creative Inc. (former)
  41. WDHB Strategic Learning || Sam Mueller, COO
  42. Wells Fargo || Darius Miranda, VP Innovation Group
  43. Wells Fargo || Nathan Bricklin, SVP Head of R&D Strategy and Experience
  44. WL Gore || Linda Elkins, Leader of WL Gore Silicon Valley Innovation Center

We will continue to publish research on disruptive trends, our next report will be on the Business Models of Blockchain, and more insights from the Corporate Innovation imperative will be shared, be sure to subscribe to this blog.

 

Robots, Yes Robots, Could Be Trump’s Greatest Threat

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The rise of automation is destined to replace some worker employment, and it could increasingly cause friction with efforts to create new jobs, a hallmark of the Donald Trump administration.

Many studies have forecast a day when repetitive and labor-intensive jobs will be recast by automation, though the jury is still out about whether the humans now holding those jobs will be elevated to more meaningful positions that utilize automation or will be replaced outright.

One particular technology, self-driving cars, is on pace to emerge en masse in 2021, right around the next election, as most car manufacturers will offer these features in their fleets. Furthermore, Lyft has partnered with GM to roll out self-driving on-demand fleets, and Uber and Mercedes have forged a partnership with a similar offering. Uber also purchased Otto, which automates large trucks — a move that will have profound effects on safety, speed, and the shortage of truck drivers.

Today, a large segment of working Americans are professional drivers, which means that many will soon find themselves questioning whether they have a career, job, or income. This will leave the current Trump administration at a crossroads of deciding how to respond. Currently, the Trump administration has pinned its campaign and promise on keeping jobs on American soil and keeping products made in America. This played well to the base of the working class and resulted in his rise to the highest seat in politics. Meanwhile, however, Trump has been very quiet on the topic of automation, and some suggest that automation could undermine his core position.

Far from mainstream America, Silicon Valley represents a bubble that reveals parts of what the future will hold. Just last week, I filmed an automated barista serving coffee in San Francisco without the need for humans, and a few months ago, I visited an automated restaurant in the same neighborhood. In my local city, Starship Technologies is already starting to ship food to people’s homes and offices using a robot. Mercedes, Amazon, Google, GE, and many other companies are also quickly advancing in robotics.

It’s not limited to the physical world, either. As bots and artificial intelligence continue to rise, we’ll see that lower-level white-collar and even mid-level white-collar workers will be impacted (either augmented or replaced) by automation. Take, for example, Walmart, which recently laid off 7,000 in its white-collar billing department by using back office automation technologies.

How will this administration respond to automation? I see a few options:

  1. Resist automation and place limitations. The current administration may seek to limit the amount of automation that can be deployed, keeping American workers intact. The risk is that foreign competitors could leapfrog ahead in productivity by deploying robots, as China-based Foxconn is already doing.
  2. Embrace automation, as it lifts American productivity and GDP. The administration might welcome automation, embracing the productivity benefits it brings to company performance, country GDP, and taxes. The risk is that displaced workers who are unable to upskill will be left in the cold.
  3. Upskill workers with STEAM education. All workers whose positions are threatened by automation could benefit from provided or low-cost education that enables them to upskill so they can manage or support automation rather than be displaced. Some have found that robots actually increase the number of jobs in some scenarios.
  4. Embrace universal basic income. In a less likely scenario, I could imagine the current administration embracing universal basic income, which would be a social program to provide all citizens with a living wage (food, clothing, shelter, and education) regardless of employment status or age. The funds would be derived from taxes on the companies that are deploying automation. The hope is that automation increases total productivity, generating more food, goods, and services than ever before, thereby creating a surplus for humanity. However, IDC industry analyst Alan Webber has given me feedback on this scenario that suggests it is at odds with Republican values, an assessment that’s in agreement with government expert Alan Silberberg in a phone discussion with me.

America and other countries can’t stop innovating their automation and risk lagging behind, as that will give other competitors the opportunity to leap forward. Within the next few years, the Trump administration and other global leaders focused on nationalism will need to prepare a message and plan to deal with the automation that will certainly change the job landscape.

My suggestions: The Trump administration (or any administration, for that matter) should quickly: 1) assess which jobs will be automated, 2) make plans to communicate this to the public, 3) prepare its base with upskilling, 4) and prepare to partner with the technology companies that will be driving this new future. This is the best path forward for the people, businesses, government, country, and world — there’s more at stake than political position.

The Rise of the Political Brand

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Corporations are being expected to take a political stand, a risky proposition that could result in backlash, boycotts, or a raving army of advocates.

Since the dawn of business, the influences of politics have resulted in private political advisors, quiet lobbying in political offices, and funding political programs.

But now, customers are expecting brands to take a public, forward expression on how the brand affiliates with a particular political bent, notion, or value.

Careful, if you do it wrong, boycotts are emerging against brands that don’t align with a political stance of their customer base, which results in app downloads, lost revenues, and a tarnished brand.

This means the CEO, CMO, and other executives must lean forward on deciding if they should make a position. The examples are increasing:

  • Last night’s Superbowl game sported ads from Audi, Budweiser, 84 Lumber and others had political bents.
  • Tech companies just signed an anti-immigration ban document, rallying as a group, clearly indicating their values.
  • Uber CEO pushed to step down from White House advisory board, while Elon Musk states a clear stance on why to stay.
  • Starbucks promised to hire many immigrants, and three years ago, Hobby Lobby, stood by their values, which set off the country in debate.
  • Most noticeably, is last night’s Superbowl performer Lady Gaga, is being analyzed for not taking an overt political stance. As this sentiment grows, brands will need to prepare for questions on why they should — or should not take a political stance.

What does this future hold? A few predictions:

  1. CMOs will hire political-brand advisors. No, I’m not talking about lobbyist or government relations professionals, but experts in political campaigning and brand influence. For example, a few years ago, Uber hired David Plouffe, who worked on the Obama campaign.
  2. A new professional category will emerge, agencies, consultants, authors, speakers will emerge that tie together political and brand strategy that aids the CMO — and achieves bottom line growth.
  3. A new feature of enterprise marketing software will emerge to measure customer political preference and affiliation — with a dashboard for the CMO to manage.
  4. CEOs will lead a discussion at board level, with the CMO to discuss if a brand should take a political stance, after carefully examining the impacts to government relations, regulation, customer preference.
  5. Brands will politically poll their customers, partners, prospects and competitor base to ascertain the political bent of their constituent base. Some bold brands will publish these polls in public.
  6. A more public association between brands and their preferred political ideology and perhaps candidate will emerge.
  7. Customers will sport their favorite product as a form of political activism: Supporting, advocating, or boycotting online and in front of their real world friends.

Companies have no choice to consider their political bent, not just behind closed doors, but now in public.