Platforms, convenience & the value of ignorance: what I learned at our latest Innovation Bootcamp Frederik Simoen - December 18, 2017

Organizing Innovation Photo By David Watkis On Unsplash

Now that I’ve had some time to process our latest bootcamp – as per usual a wild and intense ride with many new insights and inspiration - I wanted to share my three main insights in order to further spread our (benign) nexxworks innovation virus.

1. Platforms are not a threat if you do this:

Platforms are the talk of the town, especially now that Chinese heavyweights like Alibaba and Tencent are exploring new markets beyond Asia. We all know they are after our lunch and that they are disrupting each and every market. So, it’s no wonder that our Innovation Bootcamp participants had many questions about that during for instance the session and also discussed it thoroughly amongst themselves.

According to nexxworks Partner Steven Van Belleghem there are three main possible reactions to the threat or opportunity (depending on your perspective) of this type of category king platforms. You can become a platform company yourself. Obviously, you have to be prepared that it will be very very very (very) hard to become bigger and better than a category king like Amazon & Alibaba. But for those ambitious entrepreneurs out there: nothing beats thinking Big, right?

Another response might be to leverage an existing platform in order to reach a market that is 10 X the size of yours. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Use their sales and marketing apparatus to broaden your reach. This can only work on one condition, though: that you have the absolute best products and services of your category. Platforms facilitate winner takes all markets, with one brand ruling over all the others. And you simply can’t rule with a ‘common’ offering.

Last but not least and maybe even surprisingly, it still is an option to ‘ignore’ (well, you know…) the platform trend. But you’ll need very loyal customers for that. You’ll need to become a love brand with customers who buy in to your story, feel the value of your product and will keep buying what you do and make, because they are completely engaged to you.

Join our our next Innovation Bootcamp in Ghent from 19 to 23 February 2018:

2. Convenience is king

We’ve been talking for a while now about convenient customer service. Nothing new there. But at the bootcamp we saw some true rockstars in the matter. Companies are becoming more and more creative in removing the friction in all customer interaction. They for instance use bots and image recognition to speed up and streamline repetitive tasks so that they can surpass themselves in those service areas where human interaction is still crucial. We saw a superb case at the bootcamp about the use of AI in call centres: how it analyses incoming calls and directs it to the right department so customers don’t have to listen to annoying messages telling them to “Press number x” before they can talk to an actual person about their specific problem. We have all been exasperated by this type of approach but this might all be in the past soon.

Another marvellous case was the one from start-up Katalysis: their blockchain solution offers content creators and writers of all kinds the opportunity to get paid directly by their readers, cutting out any middle men. But, as most people still don’t posses any cryptocurrencies, the payment process would be quite inconvenient for the them. That’s why Katalysis made sure that their readers don’t need any cryptocurrency or know anything about blockchain to benefit from this. They can just pay in euros and the invisible underlying blockchain tech allows them to pay the writer directly. No hassle. Fast, easy and fair.

3. Look for others who don’t know what they are doing

Last but not least, our bootcampers loved Peter Hinssen’s concept of these 1% employees in corporate companies "Who Don’t Know What They Are Doing" - because innovating is doing something so new that experience or knowledge is of little help - which should be protected form risk-averse and revenue-addicted C-levels, so they can create their organization’s "Day After Tomorrow". The reason was that most people at our bootcamps – from our many speakers (experts, thought leaders, startups, corporate innovators, tech wizards,… ) to the bootcampers themselves  - fit exactly that description: they are all experimenting and trying things out  without really ‘knowing’ if it will work because it has never been done before.

The energy that is created when this type of people meet, is truly palpable. They discussed their common challenges and learned from each other, knowing very well that there is no silver bullet: that they cannot copy and paste each other’s solutions in another company. One company will benefit from a spin off, another from a skunkworks inside the company and a third will thrive by co-creating its future with customers. There is no one size fits all innovation approach or advice about innovation. It was beautiful to see how they kept challenging each other and inspire each other with new ideas. For me, that was maybe the most rewarding of the entire Innovation Bootcamp: the part where we – the nexxworks middle (wo)men – were cut out because the participants were inspiring each other.

Check our 2018 Bootcamp dates in Ghent and Utrecht!

Frederik B W
Frederik Simoen

Frederik only aims for high impact results. No fluffiness, no mediocrity, no business as usual. In the age of hyperfluid networks and ever faster changing customer expectations a...

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