“Startups are the lifeblood of creativity, yet they need focus and execution skills to convert that creativity into innovation.”

Peter Cook, lead of Human Dynamics and The Acadamy of Rock

Innoboard: There is no consistent definition for innovation. Every industry and every department perceive it differently. How would you define innovation with your vast experience in innovation?

Peter Cook: I would say there is a very clear definition of innovation: Whereas creativity is the thinking of novel and appropriate ideas, innovation is the successful implementation of a novel idea such that it produces sustainable advantage, whether that is a commercial business idea (for profit) or a public service / not for profit innovation (for some social good or for society in general). The potential for confusion comes once you define innovation further, but even here I think it’s simple.  In the book  “Leading Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise” I define innovation on three levels:

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“IT is collaborator and driver – we partake early in the blossoming of new ideas, as most have a digital root.”

Ralf Gernhold, CIO of Miles & More GmbH

There is no consistent definition of digitization. Every industry and every department perceive it and react differently. What does digitization mean to the Miles & More GmbH?

Ralf Gernhold: Digitization has three dimensions: it includes (i) business models, (ii) processes, and (iii) products/services. Foremost concern, and at the same time the most challenging one, is determining the fit of our current business model to the changing environment in which we will be operating. This requires developing a deep understanding of the market dynamics we anticipate being confronted with – a task of utmost intellectual challenge. This is addressed at top management level. It is important to understand that the products we offer to our B2B partners is 100% digital. As also increasingly the services we offer to the Miles & More members. We are a digital company per definition.

Having laid out the road map in regards to the business model, we need to adjust our processes to reflect the new challenges. Customer-facing as well as B2B processes are scrutinized. Our goal here: to achieve a high level of efficiency while maintaining our flexibility. Balancing these dimensions is an art in itself, as they are negatively correlated. And finally, we are constantly looking for new products and services which can be delivered in digital form (“atoms to bits”) and generate more value to our customers.

Alongside this top-down approach, innovation and imitation is also spawned within the organization and need the suitable environment to percolate upwards. In addition to offering a fitting physical environment and appropriate working conditions, we are also addressing the cultural change necessary for innovation to come to fruition.

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“First of all we need to create awareness of the advance of digitization.”

Andrea Finkbeiner-Müller, Chairman of the Board at Mercedes-Benz Accessories GmbH

Innoboard: There is no consistent definition of digitization. Every industry and every department perceive it and react differently. What does digitization mean for Mercedes-Benz Accessories GmbH?

Andrea Finkbeiner-Müller: Up until now, Mercedes-Benz Accessories GmbH has focused on tangible products such as car accessories and collection items. But, of course, digitization can be seen in every aspect of life today. And the trend towards digitization has not passed Mercedes-Benz Accessories by. As a result, we are beginning to look at digital products, such as apps and software solutions. These may include the area of e-mobility, but they could also involve the networking of vehicles. As a fictional example: picture a scenario where vehicles and road signs are connected with one another so that traffic is regulated. This could represent a step towards the digitization of traffic. At this point, however, we cannot say to what extent we would be able to add a service like this to our product portfolio.

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“Innovation is not limited to certain categories. Change needs to happen everywhere!”

Egon Steinkasserer, Head of Innovation at Swisscom AG

Innoboard: There is no consistent definition for innovation. Each industry and each department perceives it differently. How do you define innovation at Swisscom?

Egon Steinkasserer: We, at Swisscom, define ‘innovation’ by means of a simple formula: innovation = idea + successful implementation. To generate and develop ideas is pretty easy compared with the challenge of implementing and bringing these ideas to fruition. And this is not only the view of an established company; start-ups also share this experience. Additionally, innovation is not only about disruptive concepts or ideas that are new to the world. As a matter of fact, transferring innovations from one region to another and adapting them to local ecosystems and needs is already an enormous challenge. We, at Swisscom, do not limit ourselves to certain categories of innovation. Change needs to happen everywhere and, therefore, there are many innovation categories: products, services, processes, business models, technologies, sales channels and customer experience. Moreover, most innovations, such as product innovations, are also accompanied by prerequisite or complementary innovations in other categories.

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“There is no innovation today without a digital component and vice versa.”

Dr. Christoph Huels, Chief Innovation Officer, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany

Innoboard: There is no consistent definition of innovation. Every industry and every department perceive it differently. How would you define innovation with respect to your position as Chief Innovation Officer of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany?

Dr. Huels: Innovation is a key element to drive organic growth in an organization and separates the leaders from the followers. If you want to generate business success from internal strength, skills and expertise, strong innovation is the answer. In that sense, we believe in Joseph Schumpeter’s classical definition, which connects innovation to business outcomes. In order to enable a different and appropriate environment for innovation, a dedicated Innovation Unit was created at our company. It enables a different culture and architecture to unlock unique innovation, and we specifically seek to innovate between and beyond our existing business sectors (Healthcare, Life Science and Performance Materials). In this way we aspire to build the next generation our company´s businesses.

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Interviews

“IT is collaborator and driver – we partake early in the blossoming of new ideas, as most have a digital root.”

Ralf Gernhold, CIO of Miles & More GmbH

Thursday, December 22, 2016

There is no consistent definition of digitization. Every industry and every department perceive it and react differently. What does digitization mean to the Miles & More GmbH? Ralf Gernhold: Digitization…

“First of all we need to create awareness of the advance of digitization.”

Andrea Finkbeiner-Müller, Chairman of the Board at Mercedes-Benz Accessories GmbH

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Innoboard: There is no consistent definition of digitization. Every industry and every department perceive it and react differently. What does digitization mean for Mercedes-Benz Accessories GmbH? Andrea Finkbeiner-Müller: Up…

“Innovation is not limited to certain categories. Change needs to happen everywhere!”

Egon Steinkasserer, Head of Innovation at Swisscom AG

Friday, December 9, 2016

Innoboard: There is no consistent definition for innovation. Each industry and each department perceives it differently. How do you define innovation at Swisscom? Egon Steinkasserer: We, at Swisscom, define ‘innovation’…

“There is no innovation today without a digital component and vice versa.”

Dr. Christoph Huels, Chief Innovation Officer, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany

Friday, December 2, 2016

Innoboard: There is no consistent definition of innovation. Every industry and every department perceive it differently. How would you define innovation with respect to your position as Chief…