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Innovation is All About Conducting Experiments in a Confident Environment

Tom Conophy, CIO, Staples Inc.

Taking a firm grip on the industry’s technological landscape are trends like cloud, mobility, analytics and social. Though they are not entirely new, these technologies have matured to a great extent, meanwhile reshaping the technology space. Along with these, there are many emerging trends revolving around bio-metrics computing, wearable technologies and security-oriented technology, also constant improvements are happening in these sectors. I would also like to place emphasis on Video and Video-conferencing, as other noteworthy technologies. Videos have turned out to be prominent aspects, and are expected to open new avenues of opportunities, in accordance with the IPV-6 section protocols.

The Industry has to Go Beyond Point Solutions

In my opinion, the industry has to evolve beyond point solutions. Looking at the current scenario, mostly, there are point solutions for any type of problems. However, technologically speaking, the industry is still far behind in terms of superior and specific enterprise solutions. I would say that this is one technological requirement prominent in the industry.

Today’s business leaders have to encounter a different environment, as opposed to previous times. Economic condition is a major factor causing such a scenario, economic recovery has been a slow activity in the past, and current entrepreneurs are also experiencing such a scenario. There is a major uncertainty surrounding the present market. People are turning conscious about the trends, strategies, client networks, in other words, the current level of consumer confidence is much more than earlier times. These trends have made it important for business leaders to keep pace with the technological trends.

CIOs have to Carry Out a Transforming Role

I am of the opinion that CIOs often need to step into the transformator’s shoes. It is the biggest challenge for CIOs to play an active part in digitalization, decision-making, educating the workforce, and ensuring an integral participation in running the business. By active participation, I am referring to the capability to drive strategies and lead the rest of the group.

To address these concerns, I would highlight the need to understand every aspect about the business. Without knowledge on how a particular organization works, it would be difficult to arrive at strategies, and drive value for business. I have always advised my colleagues to constantly update themselves and enhance knowledge with respect to business requirements and strategies.

Innovations in a Collaborative System are Faster

As part of my attempts to drive innovation within the team, two aspects become important. They are to engage in conservations about the innovations and the other is to facilitate a collaborative environment where employees have the freedom to experiment. At our firm, there are challenge groups who often engage in brainstorming. With adequate funding, innovations proceed faster, as you have the necessary equipments, tools, and other materials. Simply put, innovation is all about conducting experiments in a confident environment. You need to challenge the team to come up with ideas. In my case, I always challenge a team of about 3000 people, to think out-of-the-box and take chances concerning ideas, and give them chances to experiment with these ideas. We always provide them an opportunity to perceive these ideas, and ideas are monetarily recognized.

Once, one of these groups took up the challenge to come up with innovative solutions for issues they could not tackle, within 24 hours. And, they came with about forty solutions which were scored and of that, twenty are in use in the firm.

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