November 2, 2015

How can your organisation innovate more quickly?

In a hackathon, developers and designers from different backgrounds get together to rapidly prototype their most innovative ideas. What if organisations were to do the same on a daily basis?

Very often creating an innovative new product, service or business is a multi-step process. It starts with a vision and a strategy, usually built around your own or a third party's research. Secondly, you design the solution – hopefully from a customer point of view. Thirdly, you build it - and, finally, you run and continuously optimise the results.

To say this can be time-consuming would be an understatement, even if you would take the Lean Startup metholodgy as your approach. It's not uncommon for some large enterprises to spend months on step one alone, watching the market and slowly developing a strategy long before a line of code is written or a prototype unveiled. This works, but in a climate of digital disruption, it's hardly competitive. What if it was possible for them to innovate much more quickly?

Tieto will be taking part in Ultrahack 2015, part of the Slush event for startups and the biggest hackathon in Europe. We'll be hosting a challenge in which participating teams - as per hackathon tradition - have just 48 hours to rapidly prototype their most innovative ideas, specifically around the theme of gamification in retail. We're hoping to see a lot of exciting entries - and perhaps even a few revolutionary ones - developed at a speed that large enterprises can only dream of.

And yet the process of innovation is largely the same. Over the course of the two-day event, each Ultrahack team will develop a vision and strategy, design a customer experience, and build a prototype - steps one through three of a process that usually takes much, much longer.

What would it take for organisations to match this speed of innovation? Not once or twice a year as part of a hackathon, but on a daily basis?

Thinking like a startup

One way that large enterprises can lay the groundwork for faster innovation is to start thinking like a startup. Here at Tieto, we've spoken publicly and at length about our internal startups for industrial internet solutions and customer experience management (CEM), and they exist specifically to accelerate the decision-making process and remove any obstacles standing in the way of new ideas.

Our head of industrial internet Taneli Tikka recently wrote about their methodology and governance in his blog - How a big company can innovate like a startup. By adopting this way of working, we've been able to start bringing hackathon-style speed to our internal decision-making, and we've been able to deliver faster innovation to our customers as a result. Through running our internal hackathons like CX Hack, we are able to get great ideas to our own offering development roadmap.

Establishing a multidisciplinary team

However, there's still another important lesson we can learn from events like Ultrahack: the importance of a multidisciplinary approach. The most successful teams are usually made up of people from a variety of different backgrounds - designers, developers, project managers and so on - who can start thinking straight away about how to turn their ideas into business models and prototypes.

In order to really apply the principles of the hackathon on a daily basis, organisations need to break down the barriers that would otherwise stop these people from working together. Rather than spend months developing a strategy, they need to bring creativity to the table from day one. This is also something that Tieto is doing today, with our CEM startup acting as a single multidisciplinary team.

We've also set up the Tieto Experience Hub, where Hackathon is one methodology to quickly come up with new innovations. But furthermore, that is a concept where we push organisations from different industries to draw on each others' insights and discover opportunities for innovation that may never have appeared on their radar any other way.

Keeping up with your customers

It might seem like a lot of work to change your organisation in such a fundamental way. In today's climate, however, few things are as important to your competitive advantage as your ability to innovate rapidly.

Technology is advancing at an astonishing pace. So, too, are the expectations of your digitally empowered customer base. The next Uber or Spotify probably won't be developed by a large, enterprise working in a traditional way, over a period of months or years; even if it was, would the company really be able to keep up sustainably for the next big thing? And the next?

If you want to succeed, you need to innovate. And if you want to innovate effectively, you need to do it fast - like a hackathon, but on a much bigger scale.

Visit to find more information about Customer Experience Management (CEM) and follow us on LinkedIn.

Read our study about digital CEM in the Nordics

Read how decision makers in Finland, Sweden and Norway see CEM, now and in the coming years. A Tieto commissioned study with 320 c-level respondents in retail and financial services.

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