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In the context of the Internet of everything and experience of people, i.e. industry 4.0 almost every small & large enterprise is talking about innovation, innovative solutions and innovation labs/centre of excellence (CoE) to produce innovative ideas and rapid developments for the specific contexts. This seems good and relevant as in the competitive business world, all are looking ahead of the time or before time and hence huge investments are made by the businesses building such innovation labs, tools, infrastructure, and support functions to run the show effectively. Typically the experience & innovation centre/labs are built as a showcase to attract clients and new business opportunities; however, that should not be the only intention of a lab. This showcasing approach of innovation lab/centre would not work in the current transformational age.
The strategic intent of building digital experience & innovation lab/centre is to conduct rigorous research (industry/domain/market/consumer behaviour), to produce logical insights, and then to utilize these insights effectively in producing life-changing creative disruptive solutions, future state of clients business, and eventually to impact enterprise economy positively. An Innovation lab/centre is an investment and it should have positive ROIs otherwise it could be a non-profitable asset (NPA).
In my opinion, the innovation lab has to be directly tied-up with top-line & bottom-line. This way the innovation lab/centre entities will be able to produce both revenue and excellence. Nowadays, businesses or investors (specifically in IT & product industry) are heavily emphasizing themselves on time to market, potential value and commercializing scientific discoveries. These become somewhat challenging and kind of stepping stones for lab/centre head’s to be able to meet the key result areas (KRAs).
It’s not that easy and too hard as well to shape successful digital experience & innovation lab/centre as it primarily needs passion, clear vision, intents, skilled futuristic minds, and emerging processes. The classic perception of the lab/Innovation centre is a powerful infrastructure, tools, and posh impressive facilities but then it shouldn’t be like that. The innovation lab/centre must be treated as an incubation facility for skilled minds to research, develop and evolve niche, futuristic, and scalable ideas for specific business contexts, peoples and ecosystems.
Innovation comprises of, planned approach from opportunity identification, methodical research, ideation or conceptualization to development, prototyping, production, marketing, and commercialization. Let’s first understand the types of innovation truly expected in the business & industry context with the help of digital experience & innovation lab facilities.
The commercialization aspect of Digital Experience & Innovation Lab/Center:
To make the innovation lab revenue-generating entity, one has to define its business & revenue models aligned with growth milestones, and futuristic market trends in the context of types of innovation. The creation of niche services and custom lab offerings helps in getting the premiums. And hence it is critical to define the unique & specific lab services- offerings to assure new business opportunities, repeat business from the existing ones.
It is highly recommended, that only the highly experienced Subject Matter Expert (SME – Digital Experience Head as a role) from the digital experience world should be involved in creating service offerings for the lab. The SME should be a T shaped profile, extensively knowledgeable & qualified with topics such as digital experience design, creative, business management, sales, and marketing, with strong digital acumen for specific industry service units. The SME should be able to classify, define, monetize, and evolve the lab offerings constantly.
To achieve sustainable success, the lab service offerings need to transform into the “Lab’s Standard, Practical and Custom Capabilities”. The lab business model should be designed in such a way to elicit revenue & excellence simultaneously. The Lab Head/SME should be able to define the evolving & disruptive business, revenue (rate card), and operating models considering the marketplace and service line demands.
Transform Digital Experience & Innovation lab offerings into practical capabilities:
Keeping lab capabilities at the centre of the core would be crucial to the ecological achievement and thus “Experts & Practitioners” (the people who are capable of successfully delivering service offerings) are the key driving forces for each of the specified service offerings. The lab Head should be capable of analyzing the potential abilities of Experts thus to align them for each of the specified service offerings under digital experience & innovation lab service-line. The definition of digital experience & innovation lab service line would be contextual, varied, and dependent on the organizational model alignment & hierarchy structure.
The experts should be identified not just based on the knowledge but also their core abilities to tackle specific things suitably. That’s where the people's (experts') potential specialization plays a major role help succeeding specific offerings for diversified industry sectors. Once you have capable people to envision, strategize, ideate and execute what the customer demands of the organization, then success is guaranteed.
Moreover, one should make the digital lab capable of not just solving client’s business problems but essentially to help the clients craft the future state of their businesses and accelerate the growth. These are the capabilities projected from the digital experience & innovation lab service line.
Process, product, service, channel, touch-point, customer (Human) experience, business model, revenue models, networking (customer relationship), ecosystem, and human life is expected to be evolving & innovative incrementally. Enterprises which think through and execute such inclusive holistic innovation become successful as innovative organizations are able to successfully project themselves as industry disrupters.
Digital experience & innovation labs/centre are to be used as solid tools and the skilled minds (peoples) behind the scene are to be considered as change agents going forward.
Truly speaking, the problem-solving stage is over and nowadays, clients are looking for help with innovating and designing future business, the products, the services, the platforms, and the overall ecosystem experience. The digital experience lab must be built and utilized to produce evolving experience and convenience for the target customers by meeting the underlying business intents and value chain for shareholders.
Digital experience innovation labs can guarantee sustainable growth and success if strategised, built, and executed by the right players.
Innovation is a continuous process and all industry service units need this process to be infused within all kinds of developments to have positive impacts on the people, society, and the economy.
About Dr. Swapnil Dambe
Dr. Swapnil is Digital Customer Experience Transformation Business Leader. He's also a Design Thinking & Design Led Innovation Strategist recognized for successfully incubating and driving new Consumer-Enterprise-Digital initiatives and Enterprise Experience Design Studio Teams.
He has over 24 years of strong cross-industry cross-function experience and has successfully impacted top-line & bottom-line, effectively managed P&L, delivered business outcomes, productivity, and utilization improvement through efficiency, automation, quality initiatives, and pyramid optimization.
Dr. Swapnil has also been interviewed by us for the Engati CX series. This article was originally published by him on LinkedIn.