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Shane O'Neill
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4 Ways CIOs Can Unleash Digital Disruption

Here's how CIOs can help break down internal barriers to help their companies stay ahead of the digital disruption curve.

3. Designate Small Innovation Teams To Identify Disruptive Opportunities

It's imperative to have teams banging on the door of upper management for approval to try new ideas. How should you pick these daring crews?

"Spend less time evaluating the actual ideas and more time evaluating which teams generate the most unexpected and insightful suggestions," McQuivey writes. "Look for enthusiasm as a marker."

These teams should form small subteams to refine ideas and come up with new ones. With C-level support, these teams will have the confidence to propose ideas. The success of one team could open doors for another team in another department, which could help curb infighting.

Keep the teams small -- five is a good number. Big teams can struggle to even schedule a meeting because too many people have to sync up their calendars.

Writes McQuivey: "Amazon CTO Werner Vogels famously said its project teams should never be bigger than you could feed with two large pizzas."

4. Make Non-Obvious Competitors Known And Learn From Them

Put aside the usual suspects and ask yourself which are the new competitors doing interesting things in the product area in which you're innovating. McQuivey offers a starter question: "If your customers were no longer able to acquire or use your company's products or those of your main competitors, where else would they turn?"

A good example cited in Digital Disruption are retailers that were competing with each other to create full-body-scanning dressing rooms with expensive imaging cameras. Many didn't notice that Kinect, Microsoft's motion-sensing accessory for Xbox, could do the same thing augmented by technology from FaceCake.

"They weren't on the lookout for Microsoft as a competitor or partner because they were in continual talks with dressing room-imaging vendors," McQuivey writes. "When FaceCake appeared, retailers realized they'd been looking at the wrong competitors."

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Andrew Hornback
Andrew Hornback,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/26/2013 | 1:50:27 AM
re: 4 Ways CIOs Can Unleash Digital Disruption
I think one of the keys to creating a culture where innovation comes more naturally is to teach the difference between iteration and innovation. Much more often than not, when I hear people talk about innovating, they're actually talking about iteration - the next step in a design, taking the old design (product, process, etc.) and improving upon it to meet new challenges.

The idea behind innovation, that I've seen work successfully, is to scrap what you know about the existing processes and pre-existing ideas while focusing on what the issue is that needs a solution. From there, consider what the issue is going to look like in 5-10 years and build a solution that solves the existing issues and can get the job done further down the timeline.

I see innovation as a more strategic process while iteration falls under the heading of tactical or even operational.

Andrew Hornback
InformationWeek Contributor
User Rank: Apprentice
6/23/2013 | 7:36:38 AM
re: 4 Ways CIOs Can Unleash Digital Disruption
While small teams are better for co-ordination and quick progress, this issue becomes when other teams start seeing innovation as "their job". The challenge is to get 100% of your resources involved, while keeping the process manageable. Easier said than done though...
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