In my recent interviews with IT services providers on the topic of innovation, one of the key findings was the many different ways in which innovation can be categorized. Some companies view innovation as simply an extension of their traditional R&D capabilities, others view their innovation as a way to prove their thought leadership, still others view innovation largely as a strategic marketing imperative. Sometimes, it’s a combination of these factors.
One interview that stood out was with Lem Lasher, the Chief Innovation Officer (and Global Business Services President) at CSC, who described to me a deep and holistic approach to transforming CSC’s innovation capabilities. Three things that stood out at me about Lem’s approach:
If the seventies and eighties were dominated by technology-led innovation, with IT in the driving seat, the nineties and two thousands was surely the period of marketing-led innovation. With the emergence of social computing as such a big influence on business, spreading rapidly beyond the sole domain of marketing, it seems we are entering a new era - the era of Social Innovation.
In this era, innovation will be driven by empowered customers and employees and IT and Marketing will need to join forces and collaborate as never before. The CIO and the CMO, IT and Marketing, will jointly power this new era of Social Innovation by bringing together their extensive domain expertise to create a Social Innovation Network.
The way I see it, true Social Innovation goes beyond customer interaction and idea generation, it requires a powerful and coordinated network of players to take customer-generated innovation and to test, scale and implement it. IT has a key role to play in this Social Innovation Network as the broker, helping to connect the network players and components and to establish the management, strategy and technological backbone of the network.