How will companies remain future proof?

Wednesday, September 27, 2017 - 09:03
How will companies remain future proof?

To be nimble is to survive. Innovation will kill the stagnant.

We’ve heard it countless times – successful organisations are innovative and agile. We’ve also seen it happen right before our eyes. Uber putting the taxi industry on notice, the end of Blockbuster Video and rise of Netflix.

What do these examples have in common? Innovation. User focused. Nimble.

Organisations, big and small can run the risk of falling stagnant.

How can this be avoided?

Or better yet, how can companies soar through the skies and remain future proof?

This is where corporate entrepreneurship or intrapreneurship comes in.

Richard Duggan, CEO of home care platform company ArcSense, says organizations need to set the context for innovation; the right people, the right processes and the right environment. 

“Innovation and entrepreneurship are entwined, they are tied together,” he says.

“You need both to be successful. Corporate entrepreneurship provides an environment to support and sustain innovation over time. Innovation is the key element in providing aggressive top line growth.

“But doing one or two innovation initiatives a year will not support or sustain innovation. Organizations need to be innovating all the time. Failure rates for innovation are still high, 50% to 90%.”

Dr Leila Alem, entrepreneur and scientist, says corporate entrepreneurs are needed for planned innovation and growth through internal research and development, acquisition or other investments such as a stake in a start-up.

“Corporate entrepreneurs are needed to lead these initiatives, particularly when it comes to moving them from research into the company’s Business as Usual (BaU) operating environment and regardless of whether they do so from scratch (their own initiative), or as part of an assignment,” she says.

In the face of disruption

Corporate entrepreneurs are needed to understand, plan and respond to disruptive trends in the marketplace.

“Steve Sasson for example, inventor of the digital camera at Kodak, was correctly placed with the right skills and resources to research and develop the next thing,” continues Alem.

“But not equipped with the resources and infrastructure needed to drive his invention into the mainstream. A mistake that cost Kodak everything in the end,” she adds.

Most disruption in a market doesn’t come from an existing large competitor, it comes from the thousands of start-ups unbundling the enterprise to offer unique or untapped value.

Companies can engage and learn from disruption by unlocking the potential they already have in their employees. Starting by developing people with entrepreneurial skills; then supporting and growing this into a community; nurturing that community and rewarding initiatives.

Work like a startup in a corporate world

“Corporate entrepreneurs enabled by their passion and empowered by training and experience are able to work like a start-up,” says Duggan.

“They take small steps into a new or adjacent markets, using lean startup techniques to iterate quickly, experiment and learn fast. 

“But they do so within the corporate environment and culture.”

Future proofing

But can corporate entrepreneurship future proof a company?

Dr Alem says, “Corporate entrepreneurship is about exploring new ways of doing business, new offerings, new market, new business models etc. 

“As a process of exploring these new initiatives in the context of BAU, the corporate entrepreneur will learn about how to create and deliver value in a targeted market as well as how to make the initiative work within the business they are in.

“These two types of learning are key to future proofing a business.”

It’s also about unleashing the potential of the human capital within the business.

Duggan says, “Companies live in an evolving reality with constantly changing customer expectations, technology and business models.

“Becoming a business that can respond to the changes in the market is key to surviving. Corporate entrepreneurship is the most viable and sustainable way to achieving this.

“Many corporations can survive without fostering and supporting corporate entrepreneurship, but for how long?”

If you are an executive, a prospective (or current) corporate entrepreneur, or a product owner, AIM’s Corporate Entrepreneurship: Principles Mindset and Tools course will help you understand the foundations and best practices of entrepreneurship. You’ll gain hands-on experience with critical tools that help you evaluate early stage venture projects within and outside of your own workplace – with the opportunity to take the first steps during class.

It’s a one-day course at an AIM campus. The benefits of studying in a classroom setting include being able to share first-hand experiences, ideas and questions with peers and our expert facilitators. You’ll study alongside like-minded people and strengthen your network.

Find out more about booking into our one day Corporate Entrepreneurship course.