Chief Innovation Officer Summit (CINO) Debrief: Back to the Innovation Future

Recently, I presented at the Chief Innovation Officer Summit (CINO).  I have wondered for some time how the market would differentiate between the two CIO titles and roles that have evolved in the corporate world. The traditional CIO stood for Chief Information Officer of course which had enterprise responsibility for the enterprise technology infrastructure, and information technology (IT).

Several years ago a new CIO showed up on the scene, emerging from the need for corporations to put more executive attention on their innovation investments. Like every other “C” chief they typically report to the CEO and operate among the C suite. I am not surprised, after all, companies are investing anywhere from 3% to 34% of their annual revenue/turnover in R&D to create tomorrow's promising growth.

The issue with two CIOs in the same corporation is that it has become unclear who is responsible for what causing confusion and then, voila! CINO shows up in the market to distinguish between the two. That's a roundabout way to say I attended my first Chief Innovation Conference (CINO). I took a hiatus from attending market conferences in for the past few years because I felt they were largely redundant and I did not experience much new learning. Part of my reasoning is because Sopheon has been working with global leaders in the field of innovation, so we have had a rich field for learning and pushing the envelope in helping our clients innovate. It was good to hang out with the market for the two days of a packed agenda to listen to industry leaders such as Samsung, Airbus, and DSM among others.

Out of curiosity, I did an informal survey of the 240 attendee audience to see how much the innovation dial has moved in the last decade. I asked four questions to understand my audience and their levels of maturity in Enterprise Innovation Management. Those questions were:

  • How many have a structure innovation process used to manage their investments? The answer was less than 20%.
  • How many have a mature process with adoption over 75% across the cross functional organization? The answer was less than 10%.
  • How many are actually tracking innovation metrics to track performance? Shockingly, 2% proudly raised their hands.
  • For my last and final question, I asked, “How many could explicitly tell me what a healthy and balanced innovation investment portfolio would look like at their company?” Only four hands went up.

Before the conference, I would have expected 75% of the companies had their innovation well under control. Wow, was I off! My conclusion is that there is a wider gap between those who have chosen to use innovation as a competitive differentiation versus those who talk about it. A recent study from Booz found innovation leaders outperform their competition by 30% in profit.

More Conference Highlights

The following are a few additional highlights from the CINO conference. Of the companies presenting, two different philosophies or attitudes and approaches towards innovation emerged:

  • First off, there are those companies that feel it is important to be an innovative company. To accomplish this takes a lot of time and the focus was primarily on the soft stuff such as work environment, collaborator recognition, creating an environment that makes it OK to fail, and most seem to take a psychological approach to innovation. These companies tend to be from the financial, government, or some service industries that are not slugging it out in the market like others may be.
  • Secondly, companies that made it very clear that they are focusing on innovation for one reason and that is for company growth and profit. You could sense these companies had urgency, many of them were living that popular slogan innovate or die. Their approach was to identify the areas of the business that would benefit in performance from innovation.  We had two companies present back to back and the difference in approach was dramatic, in fact the 2nd speaker stated “I am really against this attitude that it is OK to fail.” He went on to explain when you fail you can be out of a market for a decade – it is very costly indeed. He said he agrees it is important to learn from failure but don't encourage failure.

The executive from DSM gave a great presentation supported with video that did an outstanding job laying out our world challenges in a way that I have not experienced. DSM is a leading innovator!

Andy Michuda is president and CEO of Sopheon. He is an internationally recognized expert and speaker on the use of innovation management tools and best practices to improve critical business processes, such as new product development and innovation performance. A pioneer in the field, he began designing and guiding the implementation of knowledge management and new product development solutions for Fortune 500 companies and other large multi-nationals in the early 1990s. Connect with Andy on LinkedIn.

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