Consultants have a critical role to play in the world of Digital innovation

Alex Holland, of Hitachi Consulting, believes that consultants have a critical role to play in the fast moving world of Digital innovation – not just in advising on technology trends and futures but also by helping organisations make a cultural and technological shift towards embracing innovation and experimentation.

“Many organisations now face an innovation imperative. Sometimes this is about countering the challenges brought by start-ups and other competitors in their industry. Sometimes it is simply that they have yet to harness the power of digital technologies, such as mobile, cloud, social media and Big Data. They need to experiment – fast.”

However Alex suggests that successful innovation requires an attitude towards experimentation, failure and learning that many organisations find hard to stomach. This is partly a result of historic models in IT. In the past, IT departments were geared towards large, heavily controlled projects with significant set up costs.

To enable their clients to incubate and test new business ideas, Hitachi Consulting are launching a new service called The Hitachi Labs. The Labs will provide a platform for rapid digital innovation. “This service will bring together a combination of strategic skills and digital technology knowhow. We will deploy quick-start templates to enable ideas to be generated, tested, deployed and mainstreamed to create business value quickly and frequently.”

Crucially, Alex suggests, the approach will also allow businesses to do something they will need to do frequently in Digital: fail fast. “Failing is the flipside of succeeding. Tomorrow’s business leaders will need to generate many ideas, test them, and rapidly back those that look like winners and close down or reengineer those that aren’t working. The key ingredients are controlled risk-taking and speed.”