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Microsoft National Innovation Forum - Part II: MS Solutions

| On 28, Sep 2007

Praveen Gupta

Don Richardson gave a presentation about innovation management.  He highlighted business challenges as follows:




  • New competition
  • Intensely increasing price and cost pressure
  • Ever shrinking product lifecycles
  • Increasing integration of the worlds economies
  • Major technology shifts

Don’s research shows that many CEOs are primarily driving innovation, and most companies planned to increase their spending on innovation. For almost 90% CEO’s organic growth through innovation has become essential. Organizations cannot compete on cost alone. Innovation works best when a process of framework is in place and shared across the organization. By 2008, 25% of global 100 companies will have a formal process. An interesting fact I remembered about the average success rate of innovation to be about 5%. According to Don, strategic commitment spans across disciplines, with critical elements including culture, executive sponsorship, funding, incentives, process, and technology. To work across boundaries high value connections and profitable customer relationships are essential.


Microsoft Solutions


After Don’s presentation, there were presentation and demonstrations about Microsoft’s products. First demo was about unified experience through various Microsoft’s Office Communicator software which has been developed to harness power of innovation of several thousands of people spread world over. Today, the number of ways we can communicate is astounding. The list includes cell phone, email, voice mail, chat, meetings, LiveMeeting, Internet TV, and video conference. There is a shift from network driven communication to software driven communication.


For an IT department in a large organization, the following issues need to be addressed:



  • Streamline communication methods for end users
  • Increase operational efficiency for IT
  • Build a future ready foundation for the organization
  • Protect business communication from threats

Microsoft Office Communicator addresses issues including security, compliance, and provisioning.


Besides developing the office communicator, Microsoft showed several telephones, and demonstrated clear communication on Internet. 


Another complementary product, called Roundtable, was demonstrated for facilitating live meetings. Roundtable includes multiple microphones, cameras, speakers, and a power data box. Roundtable scans the voice resolution and highlights the person associated with voice for live meetings. The five camera’s are stitched together to form the panoramic view, giving the best in class A/V experience making it a breakthrough solution for remote conferencing.


Microsoft’s Innovation Process Management


Simon Floyd, one of the organizers of the event, gave a presentation titled Facilitating Innovation Process Management in the Enterprise. Following Simon’s presentation Ben Chamberlain gave demonstration of another software designed to show how Microsoft products can be used to facilitate the innovation management process.


Recognizing that innovation today is Ad-hoc process dependent on ‘Eureka” moment. Microsoft’s innovation process includes the following seven steps, which have also been incorporated in the MS software product for innovation Management:



  1. Strategize the opportunity,
  2. Capture ideas and collaborate,
  3. Formulate a business case,
  4. Evaluate portfolio,
  5. Define product or solution,
  6. Promote to delivery mechanisms such as product lifecycle management, and
  7. Deliver through that medium.

Microsoft’s Innovation Process Management software builds on its current collaboration products and project management tools to facilitate innovation. Initially, three aspects of modules were highlighted. In order to improve business performance, business drivers are identified, and current portfolio is aligned. Then, a culture of innovation is promoted through establishing incentives, creating an Innovation Management Office, utilizing the seven-step innovation process, and providing supporting technologies. Once the ideas start flowing, some funds must be allocated for funding many ideas and taking more risks. Some of the tools utilized for managing the innovation process include Relationship matrix, Pareto analysis, and Business case template including SWOT analysis. It looks like that Microsoft is convinced that innovation is becoming an industry now, and Microsoft can play a role in this new industry.


As creativity and innovation accelerates in the corporate world, information protection in the interconnected world becomes a major issue, and challenge for Microsoft is to address it in its software products. In today’s IT age, we need to connect with suppliers/partners, employees, businesses, consumers, friends, and family members. Information age has trended through development of the personal computer, productivity applications, Corporate LAN, Internet, Broadband, and now Mobility. Digital information is growing exponentially. Information workplace is without boundaries, and sharing, storing, and accessing information. Once information is shared, we lose control over the information. However, incredible growth occurs with lesser controls. When information protection is violated, it can cost on multiple fronts such as legal, regulatory, and financial impact, damager to image and credibility, and loss of competitive advantage.


                                            


Given that information sharing is not an option, and traditional protection methods such as firewalls, access control, or encryption may not be sufficient, digital information must be protected further. Additional protection methods such as authentication, access logging, embedding protection, personalizing information, and incorporating access control policies. Of course, Microsoft has a product in the making, called Rights Management Services that protects information through its lifecycle consisting of Create, Store, Share, Access, Roam, and Retire phases.


Well protected information will allow several benefits including the following:



  • Natural system of information flow
  • Reduces complexity for customers
  • Integrated with common business application
  • Managing a common infrastructure
  • Consistent information security model for all applications

The final agenda item on the first day was the Voice of the Industry, which I was also a part of along with Najib Abusalbi of Schlumberger, Mark Deck of PRTM, and Dirk Schwarz-Hertzner of Novartis. Mark shared the innovation survey findings consistent with other innovation surveys, where extent of commitment, execution and understanding were rated below 50% of the expected performance levels. My presentation highlighted the industry dilemma of using innovation for sustaining profitable growth. He showed a slide from Bill Gates’ CES 07 presentation highlighting need to build profitable customer relationships before driving innovation in a corporation. Najib and Dirk represented two corporations that have their own innovation processes that included recognition, idea management, and product innovations.


 At the end of Day 1, Microsoft hosted a reception with plenty of pool, drinks, and food. Best of all there was an opportunity to network, collaborate, and unwind at the end of a busy day.