Series 1 of 6 on NCS Digital Factory
Most businesses today recognise that the ability to innovate is a vital driver of growth. Yet many also report that their path to innovation success is far from straightforward. A common challenge involves successfully bringing a new product or service to market. All too often, a digital initiative that promises to deliver value can end up failing to scale and ‘graduate,’ leaving behind wasted time, money and unmet expectations.
Take the example of a leading healthcare services provider that wanted to investigate whether using distributed ledger technology would help it reduce fraudulent or duplicate claims more effectively. It designed and tested a blockchain proof of concept (POC), using a limited dataset extracted especially for the project. The initiative delivered exciting results, but then the organisation hit a stumbling-block. Claims data across the organisation’s internal systems was not sufficiently digitised to support the successful uptake of the POC more widely. The project could not carry through to market launch and scale.
What’s keeping organisations from driving innovation successfully? And how best can they ensure their POCs don’t end up as mere ‘innovation theatre’ – ideas that burn brightly but fail to scale, thus staying stuck at the level of a one-off performance?
Embracing innovation: The three biggest challenges
Companies need to decide how close to the core of their business they are willing to anchor their innovation agenda.
Problems often arise when companies set up an agile team or innovation centre to develop a one-off new idea or switch to more agile ways of working, but leave the team siloed, outside the main order of business. As a result, they may struggle to diffuse the required digital capabilities and approaches across existing work structures when it’s time to take the new product or service to scale.
Typically, challenges arise in three areas.
Adopting a digital factory approach
Recognising the challenges involved with scaling innovation, many companies are beginning to use a “digital factory” approach. This involves doubling down on the focus to innovate and transform, deepening the adoption of agile ways of working and diffusing these through to the larger organisation.
Like its physical counterpart, a digital factory gives teams space and a supportive environment to build and develop high-quality outputs. As well as enabling the entire chain of POC activities, from ideation through to development, it also builds vital bridges between the innovation agenda and key functions and processes, across the enterprise. Key stakeholders are involved and invested right from the start of any initiative. That way, their expertise can be tapped as valuable input into digital factory projects, helping companies ensure that the product or service they are developing is highly user-desirable.
As more employees are involved in factory projects, more people get to experience first-hand a new way of working. Put another way, the digital factory brings more agile and customer-centric approaches commonly deployed in innovation labs back to the wider organisation.
Enterprises thus gain not just the factory’s outputs, but a powerful set of tools to bring the transformation of their people, culture and processes closer to the core of the business.
Starting-points for scaling success
Drawing on multidisciplinary capabilities and deep experience working with leading organisations across sectors, NCS has a comprehensive digital factory approach to help businesses accelerate innovation. It starts with the following three steps.
When organisations transform and align their digital capabilities using these approaches, they’re better positioned to find innovative growth opportunities ahead of competitors. That way, they can do much more than simply adapt to the digital age – they can thrive in it.