We often talk about being innovative which means bringing about new ideas. I wonder, if ‘innovation’ is at all doable by a typical brainpower. In fact, isn’t only a genius able to actualize something ‘new’? And that category of brain is limited. Those that are, are backstage – thinking at their pace. So what is all this innovation that I am writing about here?
This will be a bit round and about but I’ll connect the dots. I am an IT consultant in the Human Resources line of business. Off late, my world is going through a lot of shifts and all around ‘cloud technology’. Human Resources software is intensely getting pushed out of the customer’s in house to the cloud – the software being accessible anytime, anywhere through the internet. This is the big innovation that has called all head and heart into, and as a consultant, I have been busy gearing up with all the knowledge that I need to meet the inevitable.
While I am assiduously filling myself up with the new, I am constantly being reminded of things that I have already seen in the past. 7 years ago I signed in to the technology world through the very reputed ADP. They said I should take pride in myself that I was selected to be hired in this organisation because only the 1 best out of the10 shortlisted from 100s gets hired here. I didn’t feel proud but certainly lucky. Later on, I realised how really lucky I was to have worked in ADP as a tech start-up. I worked with some of the SAP geeks and the most humble I had seen. The R&D and implementation team consisted of relentless people who seemed to have answers to everything that I could think of then. People dedicated long hours to create new solutions and resolve complex questions. There was the testing team, lead of which was a good friend of mine, who seemed to be residing in the office premise forever complying with the testing standards and deadlines. When I interacted with the clients, I figured that only a few people at the clients’ sides were involved in the technicalities of the software. The maintenance of the software was end to end managed by ADP. It was developed and updated at regular intervals and changes delivered to the clients. There were teams delivering comprehensive services like payroll, financials, retirement services, dealerships etc. These were essentially the outsourced business service models delivered to the customers who chose such comprehensive service packages. The Basis team was dedicated to both clients and service folks. All that we were doing was managing the software that was delivered to the customers and servers not owned by them unlike the on-premise norms. But that’s more or less what today’s cloud concept is. Its not new and I am talking about a span of 15 years or so since ADP had launched its payroll software services that I was working on. Of course, there are changes in the concept in terms of technological advancement, user experience and other value additions but the ground approach is not new.
So, innovation – is it really new? If taken through a heavy duty scanner (as in the picture) – No, not always. Senior HR analysts and advisers have been discussing ADP’s long presence in the SaaS (software as a service) market and all the good work done. Today the same concept has been put forth again in a new way with additional capabilities, specially the cost savings that has driven the corporate sector to reweigh their IT strategies.
Correlating to the initial point, innovation precisely in most cases is ‘need-based’ creativity – building something more unique using old blocks. The other day, somebody had tweeted re: an article that mentioned innovations being born out of rethinking old concepts. In fact, those innovations sell well that have proof of previous success and now with a glazed icing of agility, user experience, lower cost and more. Also, as a matter of fact, ‘built from the scratch’ innovation may be hard to believe till we see the results on the table. It often creates mixed reactions because it is a human tendency to resist the new. And as mentioned earlier, it needs a genius to foresee the future. Anyways, I think, generally every new thought that comes to our mind is triggered by something we see around. So where is the originality, we are only being creative not original. But those brilliant creative minds can actually be the game changers for good unless we are talking about Hasso Plattner, the “technology guru”, whose foresight can bring evolution for a fact.
Newness vs originality is fascinating. Even more – if it suits growing business needs…, after all it is beefing up that counts! But please bring your own mind in this game of ‘innovation’.