Who should control innovation?

Should innovation just be down to the IT department or should everyone in the business pull together? Mark Samuels takes a look...

He says CIOs should facilitate conversations with the real subject experts across the organisation. When considering new technology, Thomas encourages IT leaders to stress test their ideas and ask a few crucial questions to get a sense of how the innovation will really help the business. He says developments in the cloud provide a good example. 

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"The IT team tends to have a good understanding of the technical implications, while the business will have a stronger understanding of the organisational context and how scalable technology might be used to improve existing processes. By working together, line-of-business and IT workers can create great solutions to specific challenges," says Thomas.

Line heads will also be strong people who are able to generate new ideas that can provide benefits to the company. To get successful innovation from an IT department, you need to get IT-savvy people to work with these business-savvy people. If that happens, you can generate and implement great ideas.

Act like a conduit and bring people together

Collaboration is also key to Enterprise Rent-A-Car European IT director Jeff King, who has worked hard to bring great ideas to the table in regards to cross-European technology innovation. Since moving to Europe two years ago, King has set in place key partnerships to help the organisation make the most of technology. Those partnerships cover internal IT professionals across Europe and external arrangements with third party providers.

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However, he also recognises that the CIO is just one cog be it a very important element in the overall machine that helps the business make the most of IT innovation. Great ideas, says King, should come from all areas of the organisation. His role, as an IT leader, is to help the organisation turn interesting theories into practical realities.

"My role is as the conduit to bring people together in order to generate great ideas," he says. "I listen a lot; in fact, you need to make sure you engage with the rest of the business all the time and make sure you understand the requirements of these line of business executives and the day-to-day challenges that they face.

"I'm fortunate that I have great relationships with the rest of the business. I can get the top people in the European business together and brainstorm in order to come up with the best possible IT solutions to organisational challenges."

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