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The Importance of Innovation in Business Today | @DevOpsSummit #DevOps

How continuous innovation helps companies exploit the digital Wild West

The Importance of Innovation in Business Today
By Chris Boorman

When you next book business trip, how will you do it? If you're tech savvy, you'll book it on the airline's phone app. You might then choose the Airbnb app to reserve a room at a fraction of the price of a hotel. And your taxi from the airport to the hotel? It has to be Uber (just don't tell the local taxi drivers).

Business is changing

Make no mistake, business is changing. Every business is becoming a software business, as the above examples highlight. But it goes further than this. You could argue that banks are software-driven organizations, which also happen to offer financial services; retailers are IT behemoths that also sell us goods; and telecommunications companies...well where would they be without software and technology?

Innovation starts with software. Organizations are increasingly turning to technology solutions to innovate and distinguish themselves from other competitors. Take the automotive industry: Pick a class of vehicle-say sports utility vehicles-and there is very little to distinguish one brand from another: they all look similar, cost a similar amount, and offer equivalent performance and safety features.

The distinguishing factor-the innovation-is increasingly coming from the software and technology inside the car. Google are working on a driverless car for example; Mercedes-Benz offer customers automatic braking in the event of an incident, and you can now choose a Land Rover, which connects, with your home hub.

The importance of this technology innovation in business cannot be overstated. Pick an industry, and it is the new technology ideas that stimulate revenue growth, increase productivity and enhance customer loyalty.

Ever visited a Tesco store in Shanghai? You don't need to. Giant posters on Shanghai's underground allow commuters to do their weekly Tesco shop on their way home by taking photos of the items they desire with their mobile phones. Orders are delivered to their door "within hours". Other retailers are moving fast to close this competitive gap and avoid missing out in the race to retain digital-savvy customers.

Innovation and the Internet of Things

You can also see business innovation too in the Internet of Things (IoT): Objects, animals and people are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. Tata Consulting Services recently reported that 26 companies (14 of which are in the U.S.) plan to spend $1 billion or more each on IoT initiatives this year.

The Walt Disney Company, for example, is already on this trend. It has released its MagicBand and made its theme parks the start of a ‘smart city', as it uses technology to enhance the theme park experience, increase security, and gain incredible insight into the habits of visitors. Philips hue LED bulbs allow consumers to control lighting with their tablet or smartphone. Users can program the bulbs to dim at night, or blink if they detect an intruder. The list is endless.

The importance of innovation in business is unquestionable. So how do you keep pace with that innovation, especially given the ever-more rapid pace of change every company is experiencing? Create a ‘skunk works' of like-minded innovators, like Fiat Chrysler is doing to dream up its new range of Alfa Romeos? Turn to your customers for ideas, as Harley-Davidson does by frequently attending rallies with other Harley motorcycle enthusiasts? Or just ensure your engineers stay close to the market, like just about anything Apple develops.

The importance of automation in innovation

If the starting point for innovation needs to be technology, there's one area of business innovation that is essential to staying one step ahead of those fearsome competitors: automation. Automating your business-whether it is in the cloud, with big data or across the IoT-frees up time, money and resources you need to devote to innovation.

Let's imagine a manufacturing company, for example, whereby a member of the factory floor has inspired a new mobile app that can shave 5% off the production cycle. The company needs to bring the innovation to market fast. An automation strategy can automate and scale the necessary collaboration between Development and Operations teams (commonly referred to as ‘DevOps') and accelerate the launch of the innovation.

Likewise, automation enables you to automate the delivery of IT services requested by your users from a self-service portal. For example, a Customer Support team could request new Salesforce.com functionality to be added using a point-and-click mechanism. That new functionality might cut customer call handling time or increase agent productivity by 10%. This might not be innovation on the scale of the Apple iPhone, but this kind of continuous innovation keeps enterprises competitive, grows revenue and ensures customer satisfaction.

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Automic, a leader in business automation, helps enterprises drive competitive advantage by automating their IT factory - from on-premise to the Cloud, Big Data and the Internet of Things.

With offices across North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific, Automic powers over 2,600 customers including Bosch, PSA, BT, Carphone Warehouse, Deutsche Post, Societe Generale, TUI and Swisscom. The company is privately held by EQT. More information can be found at www.automic.com.