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Corporate Innovation: Hunger Games Style

(Image credit: Image Credit: Igorstevanovic / Shutterstock)

Competition is everywhere. In every sector, new technologies are leveling the playing field and allowing new players to effectively compete against industry giants. Well-established corporations understand these growing threats and are seeking out the very best and brightest technologies to help them stay ahead of the pack. With that being said, the processes they utilize for identifying and integrating these technologies remain counter-intuitively slow and complex.

Innovation is competitive by nature, and the application of new technologies should be no exception. To maximize the reach of emerging technologies, the process by which corporations adopt them should look a lot more like The Hunger Games, with sheer ability and drive propelling the best competitors to victory. While at first that idea may seem preposterous, it only takes a couple of steps to implement, and considering the fact that the results of PoCs are often deciding moments in the evolution of corporate strategy, it would be shortsighted to take short cuts—investing time in innovation is crucial to achieving success.      

Don’t Be Scared of a Little Competition 

Before adopting new software, corporations sift through the staggering amount of solutions offered by vendors and startups, vet each one, and then begin the process of testing with Proof-of-Concepts (PoCs). This tedious, costly, and time-consuming process leads companies to select one solution with no real rubric with which to compare all the options, and dismiss others simply for the sake of expediency.   

Choosing an innovative solution should be based on grounded knowledge, not on a leap of faith. So how can a corporation be sure they made the right choice? Gamify the search for innovation by injecting a competitive edge to the process. Create open tryouts and then crank up the pressure, testing the solutions in alternative scenarios, to see how each offering stacks up against the others. This competition of sorts will allow the brightest stars to shine. The knowledge that solution providers are being judged against others vying for the same prize will cause the best to outperform and eliminate the competition.   

Innovation Should Be Survival of the Fittest 

An open invite calling for the survival of the fittest solution enables enterprises to put all the viable options through rigorous paces before selecting a winner. True, this open call for innovation has the potential to spiral out of control, but maintaining manageability is possible with a well-designed, competitive set up.   

1. Pick Your Tributes (Perform Due Diligence): With broad strokes, knock out the truly non-relevant solutions quickly, and then use basic criteria to whittle the number of applicants down to a more suitable number that still encourages competition. Yes, this may take longer than the standard process of only inviting a couple of vendors and startups to apply, but by letting all who are interested at least throw their hat into the ring, a corporation can ensure that they are not missing out on relevant solutions simply because they had not heard of them. By this stage only those with actually promising solutions will remain, and they will be eager to prove themselves, knowing that they have made it to the final round.   

2. Design the Perfect Arena (Build Adaptable Testing Environments): Though it can be a time-consuming process, particularly for already busy IT departments, creating rigorous but adaptable testing environments based on realistic data is well worth the effort, especially when you consider the risk of becoming obsolete if this decision isn’t made correctly. Finding a way to test solutions in realistic environments with varying scenarios will help leaders emerge from the crowd, and the stakes are too high to make a choice, only to find out it doesn’t run the way you require.    

3. Level the Playing Field (Get Your Head in the Cloud): Don’t rule out great vendors from the competition just because they’re located far away. Utilizing cloud-based testing environments democratizes the innovation process by allowing vendors from all over the world to compete without being at a disadvantage, so that a startup down the block has no advantage over another competing vendor 3,000 miles away. Not only does cloud utilization render distance a non-issue, but the available computing power that comes with it means enterprises can simultaneously run multiple PoCs easily, while also ensuring the complete security and secrecy of their assets.    

4. Crown Your Victors (Create Parameters for Success): Create a rubric with clear and deliverable criteria with which you can judge each solution, and use predictive analytics to see how a given product will scale within your company. Unless a solution can be tested in a variety of situations and with various restrictions or obstacles, it can be impossible to ascertain if the results are situational or genuine. By vigorously evaluating the entrants within a dynamic testing environment, results will reflect more than just mere potential, rather a greater glimpse into a solution’s actual capabilities. This offers a simple way to assess the strengths and weaknesses of each solution and find that perfect product to push the company ahead.  

The world of business is competitive, dynamic, and exciting, and there is no reason that the innovation process should not embrace a similar philosophy. Changing up the way enterprises test external software solutions can go a long way in reenergizing companies as a whole. By implementing a gamified version of the stale and aging innovation process corporations will be better equipped to actively find and vet solutions, providing them with the tools they need to propel themselves to the top of their industries. Corporations and enterprises need to be bold in holding open-tryouts for vendors that can help solve a problem plaguing the company. They need to be ready to make the investment to evaluate their options with the best methods and tools, and they need to know how to judge the results objectively. By following this process of spotting, testing, and ultimately integrating new solutions, the results will make your company stronger, wiser, and better. Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor. 

Image Credit: Igorstevanovic / Shutterstock

Toby Olshanetsky is the CEO and Co-founder of prooV, the first Pilot-as-a-Service platform, which is helping enterprises innovate. During his 20 years as a startup entrepreneur he has had senior roles in Cyber & IT Security, Mobile Development, SAAS, e-commerce, on-line banking, and has led several successful startups.