Innovation, the concept of doing something different rather than doing the same thing better. Innovation can be viewed as applying better solutions to meet new needs in today’s ever-changing markets. At the same time however, innovation may not be about doing more, but rather about doing less, and making more space for change and opportunity.

Look at Steve Jobs as a case study. Steve Jobs did not claim to be ‘the inventor’ of the computer, nor the cell phone. He did, however, claim to be the innovator of these products through Apple Inc., whereby he looked at the design of a simple telephone as a start, and created a challenge for a need that people had no idea existed yet. Apple may not have been the ‘best’ at the time, but they were certainly the only ones who offered something different, and therefore had no competition.

In a market where consumers are still scared of change, it is interesting to think about how the age of ‘different’ is upon us. People are scared of change, but when challenged they realise that it isn’t as bad as they thought. These days, the more unique, strange or ‘weird’ a person/concept is, the more they seem to fit into society. Innovation lies beyond a comfort zone. It is here where true innovative champions are able to create and inspire radical, disruptive, energetic change– the kind that doesn’t just maintain or tweak, but leaps ahead with ideas that rock the world.

This year’s Accenture Innovation Conference 2015 lived true to its mission of ‘High Performance. Delivered’. Bringing together a panel of innovative speakers such as Lisa Bodell, Ludwick Marishane, Sebastion Thrun and Clayton Christensen left many though-provoking insights and challenges for delegates. Speakers were hand-picked from a distinguished group of originators who have dared to disrupt the status quo, and each appearance left delegates challenging current ‘norms’ of innovation.

A couple of upcoming trends mentioned within the various talks:

  • 4D printing: Smart objects with materials that can self-create, and maintain/fix themselves
  • Rise of robots: Google is in the process of developing the worlds’ smallest computer that fits into a contact lens in order to monitor glucose levels for Diabetes patients. Another example would be smart glasses which are wearable computers that add onto way that people view reality.
  • Rise of privacy in a public world: Re-emergence of the private social media. Business rights to be placed on how to use personal data. Could a memories/ experience be valued, and if so, could they be insured/protected?
  • Open universities/ e-learning: Content will be guided by corporates, therefore education will be run by businesses rather than educators, preparing graduates for the working world (Udacity.com- an initiative by Sebastion Thrun)Possibly the biggest opportunity for innovation lies in South Africa itself. Not to keep doing the same things and hoping for a better result, but to shake things up and change completely. “To breed innovation, the country needs to breed entrepreneurship in order to spur on job creations and take innovations to market” (Clayton Christensen). As important, is research and development, where we see that only 2% of the South African budget is allocated to R&D, opposed to the 6% of the rest of the world.According to Forbes magazine: For innovation to succeed and economic growth to return to strength, organisations must:
  • Act jointly and individually to refocus education and training
  • Foster an entrepreneurial culture
  • Increase R&D
  • Leverage modern technology-led economic structures
  • Ensure better availability of capitalNever before has South Africa been seen such critical opportunity and the need for profound change. Despite recent economic challenges such as load shedding and water restraints, the opportunity arises for us, as innovative champions, to redefine our future. “A future in which our children will be educated under the leadership of corporate transformation, one where our businesses will flourish, and one where our boardrooms will take wise counsel of leading world thinkers to heart.” (CEO, Accenture: William Mzimba)Dare to Disrupt!!

    Written by Jacqui Purchase.