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Insight IGNITE Innovation Roundtable: October in Austin (Day 2)

by Emmet Keeffe

In October 2018, 40 business and technology leaders representing a range of industries – from retail to healthcare to energy –  convened to discuss enterprise Digital Transformation: challenges, lessons learned and paths forward.  Featured speakers from companies included traditional businesses like McDonald’s and USAA to startups like Thankful.ai Devo and Darktrace.

The Austin event included a trip to the Circuit of The Americas (COTA) to watch the Formula 1 Pirelli 2018 United States Grand Prix race. During the first two days of the event, more than 20 presenters and panelists shared their insights.

Some key themes emerged on the second day of the event.

Innovation is a strategy that starts at the top – it’s not just an investment

Eighty-five percent of executives say they know innovation is essential for competitive advantage, but the majority of them don’t have a strategy to cultivate innovation in their organizations, says Disha Gulati, vice president of corporate innovation at 1871, a Chicago-based hub for hundreds of early-stage, high-growth digital startups.

Gulati and 1871 work with companies to, 1) Inspire, equip and support founders so they can build successful businesses; 2) Grow, curate and nurture a diverse and inclusive supportive ecosystem; 3) Ignite corporate innovation.

When it comes to innovating from the inside out, Gulati says there is one fundamental question to start with: Why. A corporate innovation framework should start with an innovation thesis – the why – and then look at the framework – the how – before moving to the actual innovation practice – the what. “Too many companies skip the ‘why’ (and the how) and go straight to the ‘what’,” says Gulati.

Jennifer Sepull, former CIO at USAA, speaking on Gulati’s panel noted that even a massive enterprise, like USAA, can have “pervasive innovation.” At USAA, according to Sepull, because of a culture that encourages all employees to think about innovation, a company security guard holds more patents than anyone else at the organization.

“Digital Transformation” means customer focus

Rather than talk about Digital Transformation, companies should focus on customers, noted Jason Wild, SVP, Strategy Innovation and Global Leader at Salesforce who led a panel with Doug Rybacki of Conga and Karl Mosgofian of Gainsight  both in the Salesforce ecosystem. Companies are overly focused on technologies rather than aligning around customers, Wild says, asking yourself: Who is your customer? What are you selling? How are they buying? This aligns with Salesforce’s positioning of its own business: We’re in the midst of a fourth Industrial Revolution, where artificial intelligence is transforming every experience. The revolutions have been steam in the 1700s, electricity in the 1800s, computing in the 1900s and AI today. Wild recommended reading Salesforce’s collection of resources about fundamental business behaviors that drive innovation; the series is required reading for students enrolled in UC Berkeley’s MBA program.

Both Conga and Gainsight focus on customers.  Conga helps internal customers manage business information flow through document management and improved transparency.  Gainsight’s customer success platform ensures high retention rates and revenue cross-sell for recurring revenue businesses through understanding customer health scores, product usage and satisfaction. Whether internal or external customers, starting with customers at the center is core to digital transformation.

Innovation requires agility

Digital requires providing internal stakeholders with the tools they need to do their jobs, and the data to make the right decisions.  Speed to market of software tools is a competitive advantage. According to Scott Weber, SVP Americas at Tricentis, 49 percent of business leaders say testing impedes the delivery of the software. Even though agile and DevOps are standard these days, testing is still slowing down companies’ efforts at digital transformation, says.

Transformation is driven by data

Colin Britton, chief strategy officer at Devo discussed the volume of data that needs processing and analysis in today’s enterprise environment.  Devo, a next-generation Splunk, is able to bring together massive amounts of historical and real-time data in one place, making it possible for organizations to make informed decisions immediately. Britton showed us how Formula One racing is an example of a business that’s using data in real time to make split-second decisions. There are 50,000 channels of data coming from every car and being analyzed instantly, Britton says, and that data guides the crews to make decisions on the track.

With this segue to F1, the Roundtable Attendees, it was off to the Circuit of the Americas track for the qualifying rounds of the Formula 1 race. That’s right, we got to see firsthand data-driven … driving!

Don’t forget to check out part one of our highlights from the Austin Insight IGNITE Innovation Roundtable, where the theme was disruption.

The next Insight IGNITE Innovation Roundtable is a one-day event at the McLaren Technology Center in Woking, United Kingdom on 29th November, 2018.

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Emmet Keeffe

Venture Partner, Founder IGNITE

Emmet B. Keeffe III is a Venture Partner at Insight Venture Partners and joined the firm in 2014. He is passionate about accelerating Digital transformation at large global companies by driving the awareness and adoption of transformative enterprise software by global IT organizations. Emmet is…

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