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October 19, 2015

We Innovate. Therefore We Are @ Zero Distance To Customers

Posted by Gopikrishnan Konnanath (View Profile | View All Posts) at 10:55 AM

Within grasp: Zero Distance to client, code and value [Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VN5kMps3Jnk?list=PLgs9YKJzzPSMlw3W3czkLcUQd4ZrDISki]

What does it take to make innovation mainstream in a large organization? What does it take to make innovation business as usual? Not just for a think tank of designated innovators. But for all. Not by issuing top-down mandates and monitoring progress, but by somehow making innovation intuitive ground-up - almost an organizational state of being. That would undoubtedly mean an introspection into the enterprise's purpose, a deep dive into the organization's very essence of existence. And most importantly - it would mean that the findings of this introspection resonates with every single person in the organization.

We decided to see if there was a way to make this work in our own enterprise, and bring the benefits of this exercise to our clients. We wanted to do this by imbibing the three basic principles - every team aspiring to be closer to end users, closer to technology, and closer to creating value - essentially at Zero Distance to our clients.

At the organization's leadership, and within our extended teams, when we thought about who we are and who we wanted to be, our thinking converged at one point. All of us aspired to become more than we have ever been: more curious, greater in spirit, stronger in creative confidence, larger in purpose. We felt that we owed something to ourselves and our potential, not just to our own selves or even our own organization, but to our clients and fellow beings as well. Every day, our customers come to us seeking solutions to myriad problems and with enormous expectations. They issue specific contracts, circumscribed by deliverables and KPIs and SLAs. We set a mission for ourselves - to take all of that and then add one overarching mandate, that through this and every future engagement, we will strive to bring ideas that enable clients to be more than what they already are. By this we aspired to create solutions that will surprise our clients, which could potentially be delivered ahead of expected time; and bring in that 'wow' factor.

We started by taking action at grassroots level. Every Infoscion, across rank and file, was immersed in a culture encouraging them to practise everyday, 'personal' innovation. This culture has three tenets: every individual associated with a project shall explore ways to deliver additional value as an increment to stated scope; look to extend the impact of the current engagement to adjacent areas to amplify value; and try to create reusable components that our clients can leverage. As this culture is being assimilated, it is creating a legion of Infoscion innovators, who are deploying their talents to add value to clients, in not one or two instances, but across more than 8,000 ongoing engagements. This is innovation at unprecedented scale.

The results are unmistakable. For instance, a young engineer working on a project for a specialty footwear retailer noticed that the retailer's promotional campaigns were rarely ever based on strong product combinations that could up campaign response rates. Our team quickly applied an analytics solution to conduct a Market Basket Analysis that identified that there is a 77% likelihood that a customer buying a girls' tap shoe will also buy a girls' ballet shoe. And a 50% likelihood that a customer buying a girls' ballet shoe will also buy a girls' tap shoe. The combined potential gross sales, if this were promoted as a bundled email campaign, was estimated at approximately US$ 95K and nearly US$ 475K if implemented as a direct mail campaign. The retailer is now exploring with us to see how such analytics can be applied across the entire product portfolio.

Traditionally innovation cannot be templated. However, in our attempt to make this a movement for the 1,80,000+ workforce, we found that a few guiding principles would prove useful. This framework for innovation that we now live by, and that'll likely fit neatly into your organization's delivery fabric as well, is what I'd like to share with you as a postscript to this post:

  • Look, learn and improve: Scale innovations with best practices and next practices garnered from projects across industries
  • Make 'what' improvements: Ask what more, what other things one can do, within the engagement, to bring more value to the project
  • Seek out 'how' improvements: Figure a better, more efficient way to do things - in every ongoing project
  • Clearly articulate business value: Help businesses see the value of each improvement and innovation quantitatively, and substantively
  • Disseminate knowledge: Share information about the improvements achieved so others may be guided by the experience.

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