Innoboard: There is no uniform definition of innovation. Every industry and every department conceive it differently. How would you define innovation?
Rolf Kleinwächter: In principle, innovation includes the combination of a new idea with an appropriate business opportunity. The topic of “radical innovation” is in the foreground of our innovation activities. As Fujitsu, however, we have a much broader focus and also account for issues that are new to us as a company or to our customers. We also want to close gaps in the portfolio with our systematic approach.
Meanwhile, there are many services that are offered via cloud computing. You have worked in this area for a long time. What opportunities do you think will arise with this technology in the future?
Cloud computing as an additional delivery model will certainly gain significant ground in the IT market. Ultimately, there are many questions that somebody responsible for IT on the client side must answer. What are my SLAs? How is the solution relevant for security? Is an off-premise or an on-premise solution the right approach? Can I use both options together? Cloud computing is also important in the scope of innovations. Costly investments for the acquisition of infrastructure are eliminated and temporary leasing models appear in the foreground and significantly reduce the cost of innovation projects.
What sources does Fujitsu use for generating of ideas? Which were particularly successful or less successful?
We use both internal and external sources. The activation of employees in the company is strongly dependent on the innovation culture as well as the general business situation. A much greater emphasis has been put on so-called innovation projects. The proportion should definitely be in the range of 40%. At Fujitsu, we maintain a broad network with technology partners, universities, and research institutes, which continually develop innovation projects.
In addition to product and process innovations, business model innovations are becoming increasingly important. What are the priorities at Fujitsu: product, process, or business model innovation?
The focus is certainly on the product and solution innovations. However, in our service areas, process innovations play an increasing role. The topic business model innovation is being promoted by our Strategy of Human Centric Intelligent Society in particular. Here, innovative approaches, such as our agriculture cloud, change business models from the ground up.
What are the biggest obstacles for business model innovation at Fujitsu?
The biggest challenge for us as Fujitsu in Europe is certainly the need to focus more on vertical market segments. In any case, the development of business model innovation requires more industry expertise.
In your opinion, what three properties or components are needed for a successful innovation management?
I see the innovation culture as the top priority and also the clear commitment of top management for innovation. I also consider the continuous maintenance and activation of the open innovation network extremely important.
What three properties or components block the way to innovation?
Unfortunately, the issue of budget also plays an important role in innovation management. Without certain opportunities, the successful development of innovation projects is difficult. To do this, one must, of course, involve resources in terms of personnel. Fluctuating support of management can quickly become an impediment.
Mr. Kleinwächter has been with the Fujitsu Technology Solutions GmbH for 10 years – currently as Head of the Innovation Department. Moreover, he is also on the management board of the CIT (Communication and Information Technology) with AITI Parks for Startups, on the advisory board for the Innovation Park Augsburg, and a member of the IIG (Innovation Interest Group). Before that, he worked at the system house COMICS/COMLINE AG as Managing Director, at NCR / AT & T GIS, and at Siemens-N