Innovation and transformation centers: Smart strategies pre-2020 will lead to success in a hybrid future
What the elite vendors have known: It is all about talent, location and network
In meeting with leaders at innovation and transformation centers around the world and discussing their approaches to talent, TBR learned that the most aggressive and successful vendors understood key human resources elements: Talent developed at a center could be dispersed across the globe to help establish new centers; the centers could be a magnet for new talent; and diverse talent on-site as a dedicated part of the center appealed to clients more than flying talent in for each engagement.
In addition, the earliest successful centers featured a physical location separate from the rest of the company’s facilities to reinforce the idea as new and different while also encouraging clients to think more broadly about the vendor’s capabilities and offerings, getting clients out of their own offices into a more creative space, and providing the vendor with an attractive location for its own professionals to expand their own thinking about what was possible.
While all of these IT services vendors and consultancies have maintained global operations, the elite vendors have combined the talent elements and the benefits of a physical location and understood the importance of creating vibrant virtual networks to facilitate spreading ideas, sharing industry- or technology-specific best practices, and tying together multiple teams and solutions. In contrast, TBR visited vendors whose centers acted as stand-alone silos, with a minimal amount of or leadership emphasis on cross-border cooperation or sharing, limiting the impacts of the centers on clients’ transformations or the innovations within the vendor itself. Overall, the elite vendors understood that these centers catalyzed change throughout their own organizations, accelerating their own transformations even as they worked with clients.
Everyone has a digital transformation center: Over the last 10 years, every vendor in the consulting, IT services and broad technology space has opened a physical center dedicated to working with clients on their digital transformations and collaborating on innovation of products, processes or business models. TBR has visited at least one of nearly every vendor’s centers, from nine-story buildings in India to one-room product showcases in Texas. Among the common themes, three of the most persistent have been around people and clients.
Vendors have also wrestled with the best approaches to having technology partners on-site, choosing industry focus areas, selecting suitable spaces and/or locations, and managing intellectual property. The most common unknown is how to measure success. While disparities persist on how best to establish, run and monetize these centers, the common themes and challenges present an opportunity for vendors to examine which elements within a partner’s or peer’s center have contributed to what remains the common goal: retaining clients and expanding opportunities.
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