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5 ways CIOs boost innovation

*This article was originally published on prooV’s website on 18/09/2019. prooV merged with QAssure to become 1TX in July 2022.*

Innovation is the holy grail of companies these days, and in order to ensure they are on the right path, many companies have turned to the modern-day Indiana Jones – the Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) – to guide them towards the right innovation path. As traditional enterprise roles shift, the position of the CIO has become increasingly important. The role, which once heavily focused on the development of new technology projects, today encapsulates a much broader view of the organization and has a direct impact on the strategic goals of the company and direction they take in the short and long run.

In order to ensure they are consistently boosting innovation within their company, there are five top things that CIOs can do:

1. Build a Structure that Promotes Collaboration

The first thing CIOs need to do in order to nurture and boost innovation is to ensure that the organizational structure of the company is built in a way that encourages collaboration. 

Beyond having a long-lasting impact on productivity and employee satisfaction, an organization that promotes collaboration has an increased chance of seeing a boost in innovation. Part of the way to do this is by restructuring offices so that physical barriers are removed, and bringing to light the impact the different teams have on a project as a whole. Steve Jobs famously redesigned the Pixar offices so as to seat the computer scientists and animators together in a move that is credited with transforming the company and positioning them as a collaborative animation powerhouse.  

2. Encourage Company-Wide Communication

Beyond bringing people closer together in proximity, innovation can be fostered within a company by focusing on the personal aspect of the people.

Sergey Brins’ “no more than 200 feet away from food” policy has been implemented at the Google headquarters and serves more than just meals – the proximity to food nurtures collaboration and as a result, returns its investment in the form of new innovation. According to Laszlo Bock, the reason for this is simple: “At minimum, they might have a great conversation. And maybe they’ll hit on an idea for our users that hasn’t been thought of yet.” This is especially important at the operative levels, since those key employees are often the ones that see the issues that the C-level managers don’t, and as a result may be the ones to come up with the innovative solutions that the C-levels wouldn’t have thought about. By encouraging relationships and having a place where people can voice their ideas, innovation can be a natural outcome for a company.

3. Work with Startups on PoCs

StartupWhile many companies want to breed innovation in-house, there’s isn’t always enough time, money or resources to do so. Instead of accepting the status quo and waiting for innovation to maybe happen organically, companies can actively seek out cutting edge technologies and test-drive them on their own systems by running PoCs with startups.  

The benefit of running a PoC with a startup is that it enables the enterprise to quickly test a solution on their ecosystem without risking resources on a potentially irrelevant idea. Furthermore, instead of being locked into a contract with a vendor if the solution is viable, PoCs with startups have the potential of becoming acquisitions if the solution, the team, and the technology are the right fit. Much of the hardship in running a PoC with a startup has to do with finding the right startup to work with, and that’s where the PoC-as-a-Platform solution that prooV offers really revolutionizes the process and simplifies testing new technologies.

4. Ensure Your Ecosystem is Agile Enough

If one thing can restrict innovation, it’s a legacy system that cannot be modified to meet new and growing needs. CIOs looking to innovate have to ensure that their ecosystem is agile enough to be modified without needing to be completely redone with every new game changing technology.  

Beyond making running PoCs easier, having an ecosystem that facilitates integration with third party solutions and is dynamic enough to change can ensure that innovation can be quickly implemented on a large scale.

5. Promote Transparency as Innovation is Implemented

In order to ensure that new innovation is well received, CIOs can promote transparency concerning the integration of innovation on a companywide level. 

By ensuring that everyone within the company is aware of new innovations that are being rolled out, understands the purpose they aim to serve, and is encouraged to give feedback on their relevance, not only will the true value of the innovation be able to be assessed, but the reception of the innovation by the employees will be increased. 

Ultimately, innovation is not something that can be taught, but a corporate culture that has to be developed – and it’s up to the CIO to ensure that the strategic goals of the company breed the kind of forward thinking that innovation demands. 

To learn more about how 1TX can support CIOs, contact us today!