The innovation agenda: 4 tips for creating your own disruption

It's no secret that large organizations are at risk of being disrupted by smaller, more nimble competitors. Transformation-minded CIOs should seize this opportunity and create conditions for innovation to thrive.

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Well-established organizations face distinct challenges when it comes to innovation, and the risk of complacency against these headwinds can be existential.

Neil Thompson, a research scientist with MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, has been studying how companies approach innovation and has taken a look at firms' attrition on key indices such as the S&P 500 and the Fortune 500 list. He found that, over time, the average tenure on those groupings has been in steady decline, highlighting the mounting challenge established enterprises face from aggressive, fast-moving upstarts.

"Are we indeed in this world where actually companies need to run faster and is there data that support that?" Thompson said of his research during a panel discussion at the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium last month. "It turns out that the answer is yes."

The panelists offered the following advice for CIOs who are serious about embracing innovation.

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In recent years at Salesforce, senior executives, including CEO Marc Benioff, have noticed in meetings that customers were less concerned with the company's CRM offering than with graver worries that their industries are "getting disrupted" and how to adapt, said Brian Vellmure, Salesforce's senior director of strategy and innovation.

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