Tag Archives: innovation

The End Game for Collaboration #FutureofWork

Innovation comes from giving teams space, some constraints, and a bit of time pressure

Author:  | CIO

The long history of business IT has been one focused on efficiency and optimisation. From the early days of computing power being used to help food manufacturers to crunch numbers, enterprise technology has been focused on automation and process improvement. The CIO has been, as one of my old bosses used to put it, “Director of Gross Margin”.

But today the game is changing. IT is upending many sectors, and even those that are structurally immune to being Ubered are seeing significant shifts in customer expectation as everyone raises their digital game. And here lies the central challenge for IT: to be able to both optimise and innovate.

In my work at the moment there appears to be one area where this transformation is starkly in relief: the world of collaboration.

Collaboration means people working together. It also means a category of software product. And IT groups need to be extremely cognisant that not only does the latter not guarantee the former, but also that teams that are able to collaborate effectively (not just efficiently) are crucial to an organisation’s ability to innovate.

You don’t innovate through optimisation of processes. You don’t, crucially, get insight from poring over masses of data – much psychological and neurological research shows that true moments of insight are most likely to be triggered when the brain isn’t thinking “logically”. Innovation, as soft and as woolly as this will sound, comes from giving teams space, some constraints, and a bit of time pressure. Good tools to support that can then help.

Think about that when you are next reviewing a business case for collaborative tools in your organisation. What’s the story? Is it one of efficiency and person hours saved? One of cost effectiveness in infrastructure? If your organisation is driving purely for efficiency, then great. But if innovation is on your agenda, collaboration itself should be seen as a crucial lever, and so effectiveness should be as big a goal (if not eclipsing) efficiency targets.


Catherine Stagg-Macey at CIO will be speaking at the Future of Work Summit, taking place on the 24th November 2015, at the Amba Marble Arch (formerly known as the Thistle Marble Arch) in London. To hear from her and 25+ fantastic thought leaders in the FoW space, make sure you register for your FREE pass here.


European Parliament report maps Smart Cities in the European Union

Guest blog post from Vitor Pereira. Original post on the Smart Welcome Lab website here. All six of the smartest cities listed will be represented at Ovum’s Smart to Future Cities in London on April 29-30 2014, along with cities from all over the world.

atelier-transportationThe European Parliament has just published a report mapping Smart Cities in the European Union. This is an attempt to identify the number of ‘smart cities’ and their activities across Europe. As usual, this report is confusing, weighty and difficult to summarize or remove excerpts. But defines a smart city as “a city looking to solve public problems through technologies developed and implemented on the basis of multi-stakeholder partnerships”.

This is one aspect that is intended to be a more concrete definition describing in detail the types of actions and areas of intervention, which are now more recognizable:

  • Smart Economy
  • Smart Mobility
  • Smart Environment
  • Smart People
  • Smart Living
  • Smart Governance

Interestingly, smart city is defined in this study as any city that has developed activities in these areas. It is a broad definition and it is not surprising that in 468 cities of about 100,000 inhabitants 240 ‘smart cities’ (about half) are identified. Larger cities tend to be capable of being smarter than smaller ones.

But there are some issues related to the methodology used by investigators to identify these cities and their activities. They used published information, the cities own Web pages as well as information, if any, of EU-funded projects, specifically for the Smart Cities theme. They themselves recognize that there is information that might have been ignored, referring to cities, for example, that are not adept at advertising and communicating or even sharing their work.

The researchers analyzed different types of actions and concluded that the actions related to ‘environment’ and ‘mobility’ are the most common with 33% and 21% of smart initiatives, respectively.

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