How to innovate quickly and effectively with Future Lab
The future is risky a business
In digital industries it’s extremely hard to build permanent success. The future is highly unpredictable and the only thing we know for sure is that the existing situation will change.
Technological innovations shape the market, competition shifts constantly, and customer needs evolve quickly. With all this, a seemingly steady market position may disappear surprisingly fast.
To close the gap between changing customer behavior and existing service offerings, companies need the ability to envision the future market and proactively ideate on how to succeed there. The future demands innovation today, but how can we do it effectively?
Learning how to innovate
Innovating means ideating something new and fresh. Companies need an innovative spirit to be able to refresh their offerings and stay competitive in the changing market. This may sound easy, but from experience we know that it can be a hard job. Producing new ideas might be effortless, but how do you know which ideas are worth investing in?
We have our own experience of a failed attempt at innovation. A while back we were looking to utilize our expertise in 5G technology and we had a great idea for service innovation. We invited another company to explore it with us. We were all interested in the possibility of joining forces and developing it further, but somehow we weren’t able to create a shared vision and the innovation fell flat. At first it was very promising, but in the end it didn’t concretize.
Using failure as our fuel
After this, we had a retrospective to discuss what went wrong. We were able to recognize two main problems.
- Our future insight lacked clarity. We really wanted to explore our idea, but we couldn’t fully agree on which future trends would be the major drivers. The vision was too blurry, and we weren’t able to make up our minds on what we should focus on.
- The uncertainty of our ideas. We struggled to find consensus on which of our ideas were strong enough to develop further.
As a result, we couldn't realize the potential of this joint effort because we weren’t able to support ideation or decision-making in any sustained direction. Without an agreed structure it remained too abstract and our focus was unclear. Realizing this, we understood that we could have gained better results with better planning and preparation. A guided, facilitated process would have helped the participants to see the future possibilities more clearly, and trust in our ability to innovate would have been easier to build.
Creating a functioning innovation framework
The experience of failing was highly beneficial. 5G service creation was the source of our ideas in the first round, and we still saw a lot of opportunities in that field. Monetizing the benefits of 5G technology and developing new services is interesting to several types of companies, for example Cloud Service and Communication Service Providers. We could still see potential and business value there. What we needed was a better process.
From this point onwards our 5G experts and service designers combined forces to create a better framework to support the innovation process. Together they built a new service concept called Future Lab that helps us to innovate future-proof services with our customers.
Designing a better process
Together the team solved the problems that had occurred earlier. Our service designers utilized their expertise in future methodology and facilitation, and planned a set of co-creative workshops to offer a functioning framework for future-related innovation. Scenario mapping is now used to clarify the future vision when it is unclear, and this enables the participants to recognize emerging business opportunities.
A “design thinking” approach is built into the process to support user-centric services by engaging users and other interest groups early in the development. We also saw great benefits in joint ideation and collaboration. That’s why matchmaking with possible innovation partners is at the core of our concept.
On the business side, our 5G DevOps consultants helped optimize and test the process and build the business scope. By adding all of these elements together our new service innovation framework was born.
We have now run Future Lab with our customers and feedback has been extremely positive. They say the best benefits are:
- A chance for groundbreaking ideation & innovation
In Future Lab we offer the chance for ideation between industries. We bring together different people and even different companies to innovate together. This helps create surprising perspectives and produces fresh, valuable ideas.
- Quick validation saves time and money
Validation is an important part of our concept. We evaluate and prioritize systematically to separate the good ideas from the weak ones. Prototyping clarifies the idea and fast feedback from real end-users gives confidence to decision-makers. Crucially, it also reduces the risk of failed investment.
- Facilitated process is powerful and effective
The participants have commented that innovating on their own would have taken months or even years. Future Lab gives structure to innovation and it guides the participants through a set of concrete steps towards success. Our process is very time efficient and can be carried out in just 5 workshop sessions, either remotely or face to face.
Closing the gap
Continuous exploration of future opportunities is extremely important in technology industries. B2B companies in particular need to stay alert and anticipate how the market will change. When end-users are already adopting new technologies and shifting to use new services that meet their rising needs, it is already too late. This service gap can be closed with future-oriented service innovation, and an efficient way to do it is to use a clear process like Future Lab.
Innovating new services with Eficode’s Future Lab helps companies to gain a competitive advantage, create future-proof services and also connect Business to DevOps. If this is something you find valuable, let's start creating your future business together.
Interview with Khaoula Slaoui Thibout on challenges and solutions in innovation at Orange, from the DevOps 2020 conference - 5G DevOps Seminar:
Published: September 23, 2020