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The complex task of measuring successful innovation programs

As financial firms rush into developing innovation centres, David Woodbridge, managing director of Project Worldwide’s The Labs Consultancy, warned building a successful lab is not a simple task.

Speaking at Mumbrella’s Finance Marketing Summit, Woodbridge added success is more than just the number of participants – with organisations needing to get “the right people in the space”.

David Woodbridge, managing director of The Labs Consultancy at Project Worldwide

“You can’t measure innovation centres by the number of people who go to them,” Woodbridge said.

“You need to have a really good target acquisition strategy for bringing people to your innovation environment. What I mean by that is you want the decision maker who’s going to spend the money, you want the person who is going to influence, you don’t want just your sales teams bringing in someone to spend time with them.”

Fintech’s rapid growth in the innovation centre space, Woodbridge said, was largely due to its low-base starting point.

“There’s not a day that goes by where you don’t read something about an incubator opening, whether it’s a studio here in Sydney, or some kind of innovation space,” he said.

“Fintech is primarily growing so quickly because it’s starting off from a low base – telecoms, big manufacturers have had these experience centres for a long time. Fintech is slowly catching up and we are starting to see interesting things come out of these centres.”

However, despite growth, Woodbridge said roughly 80% to 90% of innovation centres fail due to lack of purpose.

“It’s not that they fail – ‘Kaboom! you close the door and they’re locked up and everyone gets fired!’ They fail from actually delivering on purpose.

“The purpose sometimes can only be the thought bubble of your CEO going  ‘I tell you what, they’ve got an innovation space, we want an innovation space, I read about it this morning..so let’s open an innovation space.'”

“Suddenly you have this space that hasn’t been thought through.”

He said unique partner integrations could work in innovation centres, as it was important to “share the ecosystem”, however warned against using augmented and virtual reality in the environment.

“It’s the buzz thing to do at the moment – create that AR and VR environment.

“The only warning about immersive environments is that if it doesn’t have a purpose, don’t do it. It’s just a trick. You spend two or three minutes on it, a huge amount of money.”

Woodbridge also shared a warning around the legal implications of intellectual property:  “One of the things we’ve started to find with some of our clients is that they haven’t thought through the legal implications of IP. So if you bring your customer into the space and you start having a discussion about their business issue, and you solve that problem, who owns that IP?

“And it’s starting to muddy the waters on what is the purpose of the innovation centre as you go forward.”

Looking to ways to make innovation centres a success, Woodbridge said value for time, and thinking about day one instead of 1,000, was a good place to start.

“Have you got the funding? Have you got the agreement? If the CEO is not on board for the whole thing…then you can easily become the victim of some random corporate violence to your budget which gets shifted away to another part of the organisation,” he told the audience.

“Most clients come to us and talk to us about customer journey. It’s really the wrong place to start.

“You have to start at defining vision, and purpose, and then who are the people that are going to make that happen?

“Then you align that to the customer journey, the tools and technology, which are really critical.”

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