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What does it take to create a successful innovation culture?

Outpacing competitors requires constant innovation, but it takes more than ideas. We’ve talked to business leaders in a wide range of industries and distilled the best practices necessary to turn ideas into business value:

• Don’t limit thinking. Innovations may be large or small. They may be for new or enhanced products, new business models, internal improvements in quality and productivity, or reductions in environmental impact.
• Great ideas can come from anywhere. Encourage input from all levels of the organization and listen to your customer’s voice.
• Base ideas on reality. Get to the real root causes of problems rather than treating symptoms, and get a cross-functional perspective.
• Assess value. How does an idea add value for customers, shareholders, and employees?
• Understand risk. A portfolio approach allows you to cut losses and focus on the most promising projects.
• Commit to the idea. Provide the resources, collaboration tools, and organizational commitment to successfully execute and scale the idea.
• Don’t execute in a vacuum. Integrate innovations into product and operational strategies.
• Sustain innovation. Quantify the results and reward success. Tolerate failures but don’t repeat the same mistakes. Accenture found that 60% of organizations don’t learn from their mistakes.
• Eliminate the dead wood. Retiring obsolete products and processes frees up resources for innovation.

Innovation creates value by increasing competitive advantage, differentiating products, opening up new markets, and handling disruption. It should be integral to any successful organization.


Cybersecurity – The Human Factor

Major security breaches have grown 46% in 4 years and seem to hit the headlines weekly. Customer data losses and business disruption caused by ransomware have seen millions of people’s credit compromised and hospitals cancelling surgeries, demonstrating the potentially existential threat levels for companies. Furthermore, the latest technology and business trends are contributing to the problem. Tech companies have been more preoccupied with innovation than defending against future threats, and the desire to foster collaboration pits empowering users and information sharing against the need to secure systems and data.
Organizations are investing in security, hardware, and services; however, while these elements are necessary, they are not sufficient. Multiple surveys reveal that more than half of security breaches have their root causes in factors containing a human component. While much effort and investment is expended protecting an organization’s perimeter, insiders have a hand, intentionally or inadvertently, in most security breaches.

Read more here


Agile IT Strategy – Planning and Executing in Disruptive Times

If anything is certain in the next few years, it is uncertainty, and where there is uncertainty, there are opportunities but also risks. CIOs find themselves in the crosshairs because in many industries, technology has become a critical element of competitive advantage and a potential liability. In order to improve security and controls while rapidly driving innovation, they need a more holistic approach for planning and executing in disruptive times. An agile IT strategy, therefore, must be treated as a continuous process rather than a periodic activity, and it must cover all elements of execution: governance, service delivery, technology, resources, and procurement. Wherever possible, the strategic plan should define pivot points and be divided into multiple generations, for example in response to external events, or where technology refreshes and major sourcing decisions occur, with emerging risks and opportunities being assessed at each decision point.
Controls and security are designed to get in the way. That’s the perception and often the reality. But, today the CIO must achieve the trick of protecting information assets against human error and an army of determined hackers, while making IT more responsive. At Setanta we find that many failings, at first look appearing to be technical weaknesses, have their root cause in processes that are either poorly defined, unmonitored, or too onerous to comply with. An agile IT strategy must consider security and risk mitigation in every aspect of IT governance and organizational culture, from technology selection to day-to-day operations.
Prescribing rigid procedures might seem counter to the objective of achieving flexibility. However, strong processes aligned with business requirements, automated where feasible, improve quality and responsiveness, reducing the resources required for routine tasks while freeing up time for innovation and high ROI projects. The best IT organizations are measuring and optimizing their operations, not scrambling to keep up with routine user demands. Technology selection and architecture should prioritize adaptability, security, and manageability as part of a total lifetime cost perspective.
An agile IT strategy should outsource commoditized services where they can be provided more cheaply or with higher quality, provide access to specialized skills, or supplement internal resources at times of abnormal demand. For most organizations, core competencies for the IT team should combine frequently used technical, service delivery, project execution, and management capabilities.
Lack of coordination between departments can block changes or cause chaos when changes break upstream or downstream processes. Cooperation and communication between departments and IT should be encouraged and institutionalized with cross-functional steering groups or similar approaches. A culture of knowledge sharing rather than hoarding should be encouraged, and rather than being a luxury when budgets permit, training should be a priority in any agile IT strategy to ensure that technical and project skills keep pace.

Download our Agile IT Strategy white paper at Setanta White Papers


Is Big Data failing us?

The election results suggest that relying on traditional data sources risks missing what people are actually thinking and want. Context can be as important as precision!
Setanta Marketing’s Web Analysis methodology and tools help you tap into the online dialog that will reveal what your customers really desire. If you are launching a new product or investing in Digital Marketing, Setanta can find your audience and help you speak their language.


If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there,” is paraphrased from a conversation between Alice and the Cheshire Cat in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland (I thought it was Yogi Berra). Regardless of the difficultly of defining and achieving benefits and estimating project costs, an organization should start a project with clear objectives and realistic expectations of costs and benefit delivery. Many projects are classified as failures not because they didn’t achieve the planned technical outcomes, but because of unrealistic or misaligned expectations.  Conversely, projects fail during execution because the true objectives were never understood or communicated effectively.

Check out our white paper Project Recovery and Risk Management