Acknowledged the role of IT and technology as a catalyst to change business model (see the previous post “Firm Infrastructure Vs Catalyst to Change Business Models: the Double Side of IT“), how to implement new IT innovations in practice?
Each innovation implies a changing process and each changing process implies commitment and investments…so, which IT innovations to choose in order to avoid a waste of resources? Are the IT innovations under development in line with the customer needs (actual or potential)? Which are the key competences needed for developing a new IT innovation?
Whatever the industry of the company is about, since the focus is customers’ needs, why not thinking how to adapt the NPD (New Product Development) process to IT innovation? The NPD is a structured creativity process focused on introducing new kind of products\services that effectively produces innovations.
In particular, the NPD process combines lateral (generations of ideas) and vertical thinking (selections of ideas) together and it is divided into four stages: ideas brainstorming, ideas classifications, ideas evaluation and ideas selection.
NPD stage 1: ideas brainstorming (lateral thinking)
In this stage all the team members engaged simply write down new ideas without any kind of filter or criticism (lateral thinking). Taking as an example the case of TripAdvisor (see “Tripadvisor: a case study to think why bigdata variety matters“) where a validation process of the reviews is in place by recording on a database the receipts of the end-user at the restaurant: which might be the new innovations available by using the data of the receipts?
NPD stage 2: ideas classification (vertical thinking) – KJ Method
Now, since usually a brainstorming session generate chaos, how to figure out which IT innovations to implement?
Like navigating in the middle of a storm, just stay focus on the ongoing issues, do not think to a final solution and keep clam. So a first step is to organized ideas in a structure way in order to figure out a big picture. An approach for classifying the brainstormed ideas is the KJ method, where all the initiatives are split into groups by using a criteria. For example, criteria for classifying IT innovations could be: which are the departments\functions involved by the IT innovation? Or\And, which are the stakeholders (customer, suppliers, third parties,…) involved?
Then, for each group of ideas, assign a tag that identifies it. For example, suppliers IT innovation, marketing & sales IT innovations, and so on.
NPD stage 3: ideas evaluation (vertical thinking) – QFD Matrix
Once ideas are grouped and tagged, the next step is to identify the key performances that are needed in order to implement new IT initiatives. Typically, regarding IT stuff, they are about DataBase (storage, number of transactions,…), architectures, maintenance costs, usability, interoperability,…
By putting IT initiatives into rows and the key IT characteristics into columns, the finial result is a matrix called QFD (Quality Function Development). Briefly, the QFD matrix connects the IT initiative with the needed performances. For these reasons, the QFD matrix applied to IT innovations might be useful also for procurement: which are the key competences? Make or Buy? If buy, which IT vendor to choose?
NPD stage 4: ideas selection (vertical thinking) – Pugh Matrix
Just for a recap. We have organized the ideas, we have identified the key characteristics for each IT initiative… and so? Which IT initiative to implement? The answer is provided by the so called Pugh Matrix where, for the development of a new product or service, evaluates ideas and solutions according to a gap analysis. In particular, how much the new idea will be valuable for the customer? Will the new idea provide a competitive advantage against competitors?
A similar evaluation should be adopted also for IT innovation. Why? Just think about the risks correlated when IT becomes so complex to be maintained and thus a nightmare for customers, employees and suppliers as well.
Too much enthusiasm on IT initiatives has a side effect to much IT complexity. How to innovate without adding superfluous IT complexity? What about using NITID (New IT Initiative Development), a revised NPD method widely use for product innovations?
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