How Can Innovation Have Impact?
Click here to read this article in the November issue of Business Review USA!
Written by Amy Elliott Hemeter and Nate Hutchins
For the last few years, the business press and experts have stressed the strategic criticality of innovation. However, as we consider investing your scarce resources in innovation, should we all step back and ask ourselves “What exactly is innovation?” And more particularly: “How can and does innovation have impact?”
Look toward the business press for the answer and it may actually cause even more confusion. For example, if you search for Forbes’ or Bloomberg Business Week’s lists of the greatest innovations, you will find they contain mobile phones, laptop computers, ATMs, and stents. But is innovation only about inventions? Instead, it should be about finding ways to deliver new benefits to our clients or perhaps existing benefits at significantly lower fees– with or without breakthrough technology.
Take the air transportation industry as an illustration. In 2001, Boeing unveiled its plan to build the Sonic Cruiser. This technical wonder would have cut transatlantic flight time from 7 hours to 5½ hours – a substantial improvement -- but at a premium price of $10,000 compared to $5,000 for a first class ticket on flights in conventional planes. Yet when considering transit time, including ground transportation to and from airports to city centers, the total travel time from downtown London to downtown New York would only have been reduced from 12 hours to 10½ hours.
Around that time, a surprise competitor entered the market: semi-private time-share jets. Instead of cutting flight time through technology, these jets provided shorter on-the-ground time by flying from London’s Northolt to Teterboro, New Jersey, while avoiding the many delays associated with commercial flights and major airports. This enabled the time-share jets to cut total travel time to 9 hours, at a per passenger cost of just $7,500. As noted by sources such as The Economist, Boeing ended up shelving its technology-based solution, while the time-share jets – which were the business model innovators – took off.
Since the Wright Brothers’ first flight in Kitty Hawk, there have been countless technological inventions that made air flights more efficient than driving. However, since the formation of the first commercial airline, numerous business model innovations have become just as important by making air travel into a simple commodity that many of us can’t do without.
The most important takeaway for entrepreneurs may be this: don't see innovation as simply the vast array of technologies now on the scene, invented by others and available for your use. Instead, combine a distinctive and innovative business model of your own making with the useful enabling technologies. In that way, you’ll have a real shot at delivering novel benefits to your clients, thus ensuring innovation offers all stakeholders the most positive impact.
Amy Elliott Hemeter and Nate Hutchins are Principals at the innovation consulting firm Strategos, a division of Innovaro. To learn more, visit www.strategos.com.
Intelliwave SiteSense boosts APTIM material tracking
“We’ve been engaged with the APTIM team since early 2019 providing SiteSense, our mobile construction SaaS solution, for their maintenance and construction projects, allowing them to track materials and equipment, and manage inventory.
We have been working with the APTIM team to standardize material tracking processes and procedures, ultimately with the goal of reducing the amount of time spent looking for materials. Industry studies show that better management of materials can lead to a 16% increase in craft labour productivity.
Everyone knows construction is one of the oldest industries but it’s one of the least tech driven comparatively. About 95% of Engineering and Construction data captured goes unused, 13% of working hours are spent looking for data and around 30% of companies have applications that don’t integrate.
With APTIM, we’re looking at early risk detection, through predictive analysis and forecasting of material constraints, integrating with the ecosystem of software platforms and reporting on real-time data with a ‘field-first’ focus – through initiatives like the Digital Foreman. The APTIM team has seen great wins in the field, utilising bar-code technology, to check in thousands of material items quickly compared to manual methods.
There are three key areas when it comes to successful Materials Management in the software sector – culture, technology, and vendor engagement.
Given the state of world affairs, access to data needs to be off site via the cloud to support remote working conditions, providing a ‘single source of truth’ accessed by many parties; the tech sector is always growing, so companies need faster and more reliable access to this cloud data; digital supply chain initiatives engage vendors a lot earlier in the process to drive collaboration and to engage with their clients, which gives more assurance as there is more emphasis on automating data capture.
It’s been a challenging period with the pandemic, particularly for the supply chain. Look what happened in the Suez Canal – things can suddenly impact material costs and availability, and you really have to be more efficient to survive and succeed. Virtual system access can solve some issues and you need to look at data access in a wider net.
Solving problems comes down to better visibility, and proactively solving issues with vendors and enabling construction teams to execute their work. The biggest cause of delays is not being able to provide teams with what they need.
On average 2% of materials are lost or re-ordered, which only factors in the material cost, what is not captured is the duplicated effort of procurement, vendor and shipping costs, all of which have an environmental impact.
As things start to stabilise, APTIM continues to utilize SiteSense to boost efficiencies and solve productivity issues proactively. Integrating with 3D/4D modelling is just the precipice of what we can do. Access to data can help you firm up bids to win work, to make better cost estimates, and AI and ML are the next phase, providing an eco-system of tools.
A key focus for Intelliwave and APTIM is to increase the availability of data, whether it’s creating a data warehouse for visualisations or increasing integrations to provide additional value. We want to move to a more of an enterprise usage phase – up to now it’s been project based – so more people can access data in real time.