by Kevin Rands

3 ways CIOs can beat the innovation curve

Sep 28, 2017
CIODigital TransformationInnovation

The innovation race is on. Will you be left behind?

innovation idea
Credit: Thinkstock

The innovation race is on and companies are scrambling to keep up at all levels of the market. There does not seem to be a more advantaged position – large companies are falling to upstart rivals, and entrenched giants are wielding their sizable assets to buy out their competition. It does not matter where you sit, you are under constant pressure to make the next move.

“Moore’s Law states that computing power will roughly double every two years,” writes Patrick Thibodeau for Computer World. “But advances in robotics, analytics, sensor technology, 3D printing and other technologies are “radically accelerating” this pace of innovation…Investment in artificial intelligence was $14.9 billion last year, and is on track to grow 50% this year. Spending on the Internet of Things will double over the next five years.”

But this trend is also true within the organizational structure of companies as well. More is being demanded of executives to modernize their departments and add to the company’s bottom line. Perhaps as a result, the tenures of top executives are shorter than they ever have been.

What can CIOs do to keep the top information position in their company? For this, we have to look to a list of initiatives that place the CIO in the middle of company-wide innovation, not just the “CIO lane”. Initiatives that improve data capture, analysis, and action sometimes require collaboration with other departments, but the direction and outcome must be determined by the CIO.

Here are three strategies to consider:

1. University IP

Bill Gates once said, “Intellectual property has the shelf life of a banana.” And that analogy is more true than ever today.

“A breakthrough idea or business concept does not remain fresh for nearly as long as it did before the information revolution,” says Clifford Gross, founder and CEO of Tekcapital. “Companies are constantly looking for new sources of technology, and are increasingly seeing the value in university intellectual property (UIP) coming out of universities around the world.”

University IP, a subset of the technology transfer field, is a goldmine of new and emerging technologies for nearly every industry. As a CIO in any profession, having your finger on the pulse of what is new and disruptive is crucial, and monitoring University IP is part of that. There are tools that will keep you up to date with very little effort, including mobile applications that index University IP and allow users to search for specific subject matter.

“You only have to look at the pace of mergers and acquisitions to see how significant the need to stay current is,” says Gross. “The pace of innovation is driving companies to look outside of their internal R&D teams, which are inherently constrained, and find ways to source breakthrough ideas from universities.”

2. Behavioral analytics

There are some bandwagons that it is never too late to jump on, and behavioral analytics is one. If your company has a robust business intelligence operation up and running (that is step one), consider pushing into new territory with behavioral analytics which looks at data in the form of actions or events and aims to map the human experience on top of it.

Applications of behavioral analytics run the spectrum from cyber security to sales and marketing. This is a new way to look at data and it can achieve an immediate impact for your organization.

“Companies should prepare for attacks by implementing technologies that detect attacks much earlier in the cycle and are better able to handle shades of grey,” Nir Polak, CEO of the security company Exabeam tells TechRepublic. “These include behavioral analytics solutions that perform activity baselining for every employee and contractor, with a goal of pinpointing an employee who suddenly begins acting in unusual and risky ways.”

That is only possible when you look at data as a human fingerprint.

3. Digital transformation

There are a lot of compelling reasons to initiate a digital transformation in your company – greater employee happiness, greater efficiency, better security, etc. But for a CIO, a digital transformation can mean better data capture as well. The premise is simple: if employees like to use their work software, more of them will. Higher adoption rates means fewer employees are using their own workarounds and their workflows are being captured in the company’s software. Out of that change comes a more complete data picture of what goes on within your company’s processes.

In our highly competitive corporate landscape, winning can be the outcome of degrees of optimization. CIOs are charged with finding those degrees, which means studying every aspect of company productivity. Productivity is very difficult to study in companies that are experiencing software abandonment. As a result, digital transformations are not just a feel good idea, but a crucial business innovation.