Game Changer Insights Detail
5 big questions on innovation
Helen Simpson, Head of Innovation
Helen Simpson is Head of Innovation at Ikabo an online collaboration and innovation platform based in Australia. Helen holds a joint honours degree in Business finance and economics and a postgraduate diploma in Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing and has undertaken extensive training in creativity and innovation. Helen is responsible for brand positioning and communication, customer...
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How is your team changing the game within your industry sector?
Ikabo is an online collaboration and innovation platform based in Australia. Ikabo’s unique point of difference is that we don't just on board and train a new customer on to our platform, but we fully support clients on their first project, from framing the challenge to final selection of concepts to implement. Ikabo has also developed a fully automated customisable method of evaluating concepts into a rated and ranked order in order to help leaders make objective and democratic decisions.
Ikabo partners its clients to create a path to innovation success by working with senior leaders to ensure the vision and strategic intent of the organisation is aligned to the challenges that are posted on the platform.
What are some of the biggest impediments to innovation in your organization or industry sector?
The ideas management sector has developed and matured over the last 15 years or so and there are many new innovations taking place in the form of features and functions and pricing models being adopted. Artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions are also being explored to improve the customer experience in how ideas are converged and developed with limited human effort.
New innovations are delivered through new product releases, I think one of the biggest challenges as in most product development, is feature overload, how to balance a myriad of client needs and wants with an optimal customer experience that remains simple and easy to use. Many of our clients have come from other innovation platforms that offer all the ‘bells and whistles’, so much so they tell us they literally don't know how to get started, because there are too many options to choose from. Keeping a simple user friendly interface that is beautiful and delivers a seamless experience, is always front and centre in our minds.
How has innovation become engrained in your organization's culture, and how is it being optimized?
When Ikabo was first established the founding team was involved in the co-creation of the product, the positioning, the go to market strategy and in lead generation and sales demonstrations. The team works in a low hierarchical, fast moving and agile way, there is high psychological safety and everyone can be involved in open discussions on key strategic decisions. Ideas and openly shared and discussed about how we might grow the business and how we can continually improve what we do - the customer is at the heart of everything we do at Ikabo. We actively and continually engage our customers in feedback both formally and informally, so that our product pipeline and new product releases are delivering customer relevant improvements that surprise and delight our customers.
One of our values is ‘better together’ (‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together’ - African proverb) and we truly believe (and know) a cognitively diverse team solves problems better and faster, and we apply this when we solve client problems, and how we approach the growth of our company. Ikabo has grown through taking a collaborative approach and harnessing our ecosystem of partners to raise awareness of our offer and collaborate on client problems together.
What technologies, business models, and trends will drive the biggest changes in your industry over the next two years?
I think we will continue to see artificial intelligence and machine learning being explored to improve the customer experience on innovation platforms, I think we will see different products being developed to meet market and price needs of different clients.
I think we will see clients putting a stronger emphasises on outcomes of innovation not just engagement, which in turn will encourage vendors to look at the entire range of innovation programs and products that organisations are using and consider how an ideas management platform can work more effectively and integrate with current activities to deliver improved outcomes overall. Gone are the days when organisations can employ different innovation programs and products, for example design thinking programme, to skunkworks, skills training and innovation labs and hackathons as discrete activities. Organisations at the highest level need to build a shared understanding of their common innovation goals so they can all work and make meaningful progress, together.
Can you share a specific innovation strategy you’ve recently encountered which you find compelling?
I have been inspired by public sector reforms in Australia and some of the amazing work government agencies have been achieving. Bureaucracy, hierarchy, a challenging culture, limited resources and the machinations of Government all prove to provide a compelling reason for innovation and change NOT to thrive. However despite this, we are privileged to be working with a number of small teams who against the odds, come together and drive amazing change one project at a time.
Transport for NSW is an interesting case study, they are constantly trying to disrupt themselves and are putting the customer at the centre of what they do. They are looking at what it is that the customer really needs, and releasing real time public transport data was a huge step first step for them – they took a test and learn approach. They opened the market and a raft of start-ups got involved via a hackathon, and now we have a number of apps which provide customers with real time information to make their trip a whole lot easier. The latest initiative has been establishing the Smart Innovation Centre is NSW’s which is a hub for collaborative research and development of safe and efficient emerging transport technology. One key project they are working on is to partner with industry to conduct trails on autonomous vehicles.