After some months of discomfort in my current role, I have accepted a new position with my current employer: as part of a corporate IT department, I will be responsible for “innovation”. Now, the job description doesn’t exist yet, so I have a chance to define what that might represent for my employer – which in itself is a challenge.

Before I go any further – yes, the cynic in me DOES recognise the potential that this is a “departure lounge” (you know – the last place you spend time while you’re waiting to leave). But without this change, I was probably leaving anyway; and there are a number of other indicators that it is a genuine role.  If it turns out badly, I’ll blog that too and you can say “I told you so”!

One thing has been made quite clear  this is about finding value for the company, not following the latest IT fashion or getting the latest toys – that would make me an analyst, right James? We have a good idea what projects are lined up for the next year or two – this is more about finding what lies a little further out, and making a business case for “edge” application of technology – the addenda to our ERP etc that differentiate us from every other user of the package as well as our competitors. While there are some reasonably obvious candidate projects (we already have a start on some, as well as business demand, so it’s not a completely blank page), there is no business out-of-bounds, so I suspect there will be a lot of environment scanning involved, selection of candidate projects to pilot, the pilot implementations themselves, and the go/no go decision at the end of them.

This is where you folks can help – does anyone out there have experience/knowledge of this sort of role in a corporate environment (even if it was a “departure lounge”) that they would be willing to share? And what ideas does anyone have for a job description?

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7 thoughts on “So – what is IT innovation?

  1. Ric, my day job is to help CIOs save money by negotiating deals. My joy is to have them describe what innovations they are investing in..I have cataloged several like Steelcase in my other blog New Florence. New Renaissance at
    Many do not want their stuff published – I could have many more case studies if they let me. But in general the best IT innovations are business process improvement driven, using beta technologies, and using small teams of less than 5…mind boggling some of the payback CIOs are seeing compared to the huge SOA, ERP, compliance and other spend…

  2. James – funny you should ask! I have been trying to think of some way of working with you guys, but in the other direction – I had noticed most of your clients were vendors, and wondered if you would like the occasional user/buyer perspective … but I am also interested in what could be done re corporate innovation. Is this your way of reframing your perspective from vendor to buyer?
    Will email you some contact details …

  3. I’m not quite sure what’s happened here, but maybe James thought better of it … CoComment has the following comment from James Governor, but it hasn’t shown up here yet (although you can see it in the sidebar!), which indicates that either the posting here was unsuccessful, or was pulled. At the risk of upsetting James, I’ll post it in his stead, becasue I want to answer it!
    “Hey Ric. any way you can think of we can formalise the ric-redmonk relationship? transition from blog space to corp space. i am not suggesting you have to have to pay us Big Analyst Co style, but we’d love to help with the corporate innovation strategy… we have some advisory council members and you would be welcome to join. maybe we should have a phone chat?”

  4. Well, I should ammend that “if you could start an external one” to be, “or if you could just start using this one.” That’d give you the most authentic voice, but it’s not always what makes companies happy 😉

  5. Congrats. I know what it’s like to move from a, uh, “not so exciting” position to a new better one.

    In that kind of role, aside from the usual “find problems your customers are having and solve them,” I’d setup an internal blog first thing and start trying to engage people. Good innovation depends on flattening out an organization so that ideas can come, and be discussed, regardless of org-charts.

    If you could start an external one, so much the better.

  6. James – thanks for the link. I’ll be going back there for a better look later.
    Cote’ – we have a new CIO, and he’s flattening a lot of things, particularly the org chart. An internal blog or wiki are top of my mind at the moment, and I think I can get that idea to fly. As you say – an external one would be better (so we could include customers and suppliers), but might be too difficult for the first bite. I WILL try and discuss some things here, but will have to be careful about details.

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