August 26, 2017

Focus on learning - not solution: Human centered approach to innovation

Ksenia Avetisova

Head of Enhanced Reality Lab & Strategic Innovation Lead, Data-Driven Businesses, Tieto

What does innovation mean to you? I see it as essential component of future success in business. Transformation of all industries is inevitable, and constantly ongoing, so enterprises are looking at how they can take advantage of this fact and come up with new ways of addressing their customers' needs.

However, if innovation isn't managed properly, it's unlikely to succeed. I've seen many high-potential business ideas fail because of lack of insights on what their end-users’ actually are looking for. Below are my thoughts on how to steer away from initiatives that are “innovation for innovation's sake”, and instead become driven by the goal of solving a real problems and ultimately making people's lives easier in a specific way.

Innovation as a learning process

Technology plays a greater role in our lives than ever before. Our philosophy is all about accepting and embracing change, enabling the teams to make fast decisions in situations of high uncertainty. This approach is rooted in our innovation process. For example, under the initiative of Tieto Enhanced Reality Lab together with multiple partners and customers we have been exploring how virtual and augmented reality can be used to enhance current experience in B2B and B2C sectors. This technology offers huge potential to create more personal and emotional connection between users and service providers, it can enable experiences that are not easily obtained in real life. But instead of simply developing a product and trying to sell it, our team of experts have been working on a range proof of concepts that we evolve over time.

Sharing our quick concept prototypes with external audiences allows us to collect valuable feedback and better understand what the most relevant solutions are, therefore identifying the best opportunities for offerings that address what customers demand. So far we have looked into how enhanced reality technologies may be used in the financial services, healthcare and wellness, education, architecture and interiour design as well as retail, automotive industry and manufacturing. Some of these explorations grew to actual projects and customer funded initiatives, and some have been fading out, having provided our team with valuable learning.

Putting the human experience at the centre

Reinforcing what smart people have said before, don't be afraid to change course if it becomes clear your first idea isn't actually addressing what customers want. Working on new things we can never have a complete picture and full knowledge even on the current situation, more over the future. Design thinking should encourage collaboration, experimentation, learning and iteration, but it must be a mindset that always puts the human experience first. Keeping these simple things in mind greatly improves the chances that innovation initiatives will be successful. Sooner or later, it will become clear if your initial assumptions do not work. Being able to recognise it and accept this fact as soon as possible will allow you to keep the momentum and continue innovating, each time becoming stronger with the learning you get along the way. This is vital in order to stay relevant to your customers. 

Ksenia Avetisova has been driving innovation across multiple business sectors, having  customer experience sharply in focus. She will be hosting a panel discussion on the future of innovation at the upcoming Sthlm Tech Fest, which is taking place between September 4th and 5th. Join us to share ideas and get inspired.


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