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The smart way to innovate

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Without investing in innovation, you will always be susceptible to competition, but the right strategy requires time, funding and a process to create the innovation required for future growth, says PIERRE AUREL, Strategic Project Manager, e4.

That innovation is important and necessary for survival goes without saying. While there is no universal solution for organisations looking to improve their ability to generate, develop, and disseminate new ideas, some strategies are superior to others.

“The process of innovation should continuously introduce new value or benefits to your customer. If you’re not doing that, you can expect to be disrupted,” says Pierre Aurel, Strategic Project Manager, e4. “Without investing in innovation, you will always be susceptible to competition. The right strategy requires time, funding and a process to create the innovation required for future growth.”

Securing a competitive edge is one goal of innovation; the other is finding new markets as well, allowing a business to move both vertically and laterally across markets. Aurel notes that in order to future-proof themselves, organisations need to objectively evaluate their strengths and weaknesses before embarking on a strategy of innovation. “So instead of the tired old SWOT analysis, an evaluation of how well the business performs in three stages of innovation: Ideation, Creation and Diffusion. A business needs to understand its own internal dynamics first and ultimately where it wants to go.”

An innovation value chain offers a comprehensive framework for doing just that. By breaking innovation down into the three phases of idea generation, conversion, and diffusion, the strategy encourages organisations to look at ways to improve their weaker areas first, either through collaboration, outsourcing or acquisition. Aurel points at Google’s approach to managing the innovation process and budget allocation operating on the 70/20/10 model. “70 percent of projects are dedicated to core business, 20 percent of projects are related to core business, and 10 percent of projects are unrelated to core business. This staggered approach ensures they are able to keep the lights on while searching for the next breakthrough.”

Crucially, businesses should look at innovation as a long-term process rather than a knee-jerk reaction to a changing environment.  A helpful starting point is listening to customers and beginning the innovation process from there. “Customer centricity is key, so talk to your customers, listen to their needs and views.  Don’t create an exclusive innovation team that operates in isolation. If they are not collaborating with the rest of your organisation, it’s a major problem,” Aurel explains adding that innovation shouldn’t be the exclusive function of one team or executive, rather it should be inclusive, transparent and allow ideas to come from anyone. “Don’t shoot down ideas without using some metric or model to validate the potential of the idea,” he says.

To be sure, finding the right balance for innovation to succeed is a challenging prospect for organisations. Aurel suggests looking for external help while ensuring the innovation process is funded and staffed appropriately.  “I think every organisation has the ability to be innovative. Partner with a company in a different industry and create an innovation exchange programme. Swap employees for a couple of days, let them become immersed in different world – their new perspectives and opinions may surprise you.”

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Welcome to world of 2099

The world of 2099 will be unrecognisable from the world of today, but it can be predicted, says one visionary. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK met him in Singapore.

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Futuristic structures tower over the landscape. Giant, alien-looking trees light up with dazzling colours amid the hundreds of plant species that grow up their trunks. Cosmetic stores sell their wares via public touch-screens, with products delivered instantly in drawers below the screens.

This is not a vision of the future. It is a sample of Singapore today. But it is also an inkling of the world we may all experience in the future.

Singapore was the venue, last week, of the World Cities Summit, where engineers, politicians, investors and visionaries rubbed shoulders as they talked about the strategies and policies that would enhance urban living in the future.

As part of the Summit, global payment technologies leader Mastercard hosted a small media briefing by one of Singapore’s leading thinkers about the future, Dr Damian Tan, managing director of Vickers Venture Partners. The company’s slogan “We invest in the extraordinary,” offers a small clue to Tan’s perspective.

“We look as far forward as 2099 because, as a venture capital firm, we invest in the long term,” he tells a group of journalists from Africa and the Middle East. “Companies explode in growth because there is value in the future. If there is no growth, they won’t explode.”

The big question that the Smart Cities Summit and Mastercard are trying to help answer is, what will cities look like in the year 2099? Tan can’t give an exact answer, but he offers a framework that helps one approach the question.

“If you want to look at 81 years into the future, and understand the change that will come, you need to double that amount and look into the past. That takes us to 1856. The difference between then and now is the difference you can expect between now and 2099.”

  •    Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee and on YouTube

Use the page links below to continue reading about Tan’s visions.

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Win a Poster Heater with Gadget and Takealot.com

This winter Gadget and Takealot.com are giving away three Poster Heaters, which look like posters but become heaters when you plug them in.

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Three Gadget readers will each win a unit, valued at R550 each. To enter, follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter and tell us on the @GadgetZA account how many Watts the heater consumes.

What’s the big deal about these heaters? Many of us are struggling to keep the balance between soaring electricity costs and the need to keep warm this winter.

However, the recently launched Poster Heater by EasyHeat and distributed in South Africa by Takealot.com is not only one of the most cost effective electric heaters currently on the market, it is also easy to setup and use.

As the name indicates, it is a poster similar to one you would hang on a wall. But, plug it in and it turns into a 300 Watt heater. The Poster Heater isn’t designed to heat hallways or large rooms, but rather smaller ones like a bedroom or a baby’s nursery or a dressing room.

It uses radiant heating, which means that it heats up in a couple of minutes and the heat is directed at the objects or people around it, quickly taking the chill out of the air and providing a comfortable ambient temperature.

The other advantage of radiant heating is that it doesn’t dry out the air like infrared or gas heaters. Users also don’t have to worry about their children or pets getting too close to it because, even though it gets hot, it can be touched.

To enter the competition follow the steps below:

Competition entry details:

1. Follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter. (We will ONLY be accepting entries via Twitter, so please don’t enter through the comments section of this article.)

2. Tell us on Twitter, via @GadgetZA, mentioning @Takealot in your posting, how many Watts the Poster Heater consumes.

cleardot.gif3. The competition closes on 31 July 2018.

4. Winners will be notified via Twitter on 1 August and Takealot.com will be in touch to organise delivery.

5. The competition is only open to South African residents.

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