Innovation – it’s a fantastic term isn’t it? Conjuring up images of life changing inventions, sepia-tinted photos and some of histories greatest minds involved in their greatest stories. My mind goes to names like Marconi, Graham-Bell, Kelvin, pushing the boundaries of understanding and science.
Perhaps we don’t automatically link the development of concepts and ideas with the adoption of new capabilities, but this link is vital in the emerging world. This technology-driven innovation is likely to be the paradigm for the immediate future as we come to terms with rapid digitalisation as a result of generational change, market pressure and the unplanned impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Before we look at the specifics of technology and innovation, typically when considering the business world, we look for innovation from within – innovation from one’s own culture or employees. Toyota, for example, are famous for employing a bottom-up innovation strategy that encourages every employee to focus on their role and contribute ideas for improvement. Surveys completed in early 2011 found that on average a Toyota employee submitted over 100 improvement ideas. Implementation was fast – with bottom-up identification, top-down management-led implementation would typically be within 10 days. As this method leverages the strengths of your employees to make incremental gains, innovation can come in small increments and by refinement of existing processes or systems.
Driving the innovation mechanism via a technology route is a little different. Technology-driven development has emerged from its origins in organisations racing to develop the latest ground breaking item – think Honda with its clean air engine technology in California in the 1970’s – to the current state of being, where emerging solutions are studied and adopted into business plans with care. Machine learning and AI are the buzzwords of choice, so much so the tech is demanded without care for how it is to be leveraged or adopted.
What we are attempting to do is achieve some form of competitive advantage, and in this context, we are referring to the interplay between technology providers and technology adopters to commoditise solutions. Let us take Amazon – a true global leader in all forms of commerce – who have arrived at this position not by offering a radically new proposition, but something that was at the time a radically new way of accessing that proposition. By capitalising on existing technologies to give themselves that advantage and focusing on areas in which they have true expertise, it becomes clear that organisations whom we commonly consider as truly innovative are not necessarily developing drastically new technologies. Instead – and alongside Amazon we could include Uber, FedEx, perhaps even Airbnb – they are producing customer-centric offerings utilising tools familiar to their target audience.
With Corporate Services, Trust and Fund administration, there should be no difference to this. With the evolution in investment approaches currently happening around us, we know that the marketplace is shifting towards a client-focused environment with communication and interaction at the centre. As such, the technology roadmap followed by an organisation really has three key focuses:
1) Transformational technologies
Choosing, assessing and embracing core or emergent approaches. It is vital that a goal is set before embarking on a technology approach, and ideally this should be holistic. Know what you want to achieve, know why you want to achieve it – then look at how technology can help.
2) Future working practices
A company that has previously relied on the strength of its product over its customer service will now have to change tack and develop this service in order to fit the expectations of customer centralism in all types of businesses.
3) Integration and adoption
Information dies in isolation. It’s a fact. You can have the most advanced technology stack in the known world, the best intentions and full adoption but if it exists in silos, it may as well not exist at all. Experiment. Attempt the difficult. This is where the bottom-up approaches kick in to aid with technology.
As a technology company we work hard to ensure we’re adopting the latest technologies for our customers. From innovating our approach to regulation through to adopting the latest techniques on digital client onboarding, we have heavily invested in our integrated software platforms to help you stay at the forefront of innovation. Technological innovation can transform a workplace, especially in our market where simple but time-consuming tasks can become just a single click of a button.
Ed is Global Head of Sales at TrustQuay