• Dynamics Matters Podcast: Ep 22 - The importance of innovation

Dynamics Matters Podcast: Ep 22 - The importance of innovation

With special guest Brian Hynes, Senior Engagement Manager, HSO  

✔ Why are companies experiencing an unprecedented rate of innovation?

✔ Innovation doesn't have to be a massive thing

✔ And why sometimes the smallest of innovations can drive the biggest changes


Welcome everyone to the HSO Dynamics matters podcast.

Your regular sonic dive into the world of Microsoft technology related matters and much more besides.

I’m your host Michael Lonnon, and today I’m joined by HSO Senior Engagement Manager, Brian Hynes.

Business leaders have never had such a fantastic opportunity to adapt and transform – to understand their customers and to harness the power of technology to create new products and services. In this podcast, Brian explains why whatever the mechanism, innovation and change still require the correct strategy, leadership, investment, and guts to push over the technology tipping point to success.

So, grab a brew, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

Michael Lonnon: 01:52

Innovation comes from within, or innovation comes from without

Brian Hynes: 01:53

From within.

Michael Lonnon: 01:52

When it comes to innovation and thinking about how you can evolve the products you sell, your approach to market, and the way you do things, why is being able to innovate such an important thing?

Brian Hynes: 02:12

We’re seeing an unprecedented rate of innovation because of COVID and the pressure put on not only retail, but in other areas too. And if I was to focus on ourselves, we’ve had to innovate from the start of the pandemic, and how we approach our customers and their requirements, and how our customers approach us is now very different. And so, from a HSO perspective, our innovation has come through different services that we now offer. It also comes down to our approach in terms of, we understand that our customers are much risk averse, therefore, they want to be able to manage that risk and one of the ways of doing that is to deliver smaller projects more frequently.

Michael Lonnon: 03:28

So innovation is not necessarily about one thing, or you don’t need to come up with one big grand idea, it can be incremental changes to the way you do things?

Brian Hynes: 03:38

Absolutely. One of the greatest examples is Clive Woodward who said if you make a 1% difference across 100 different points, I’ve actually made 100% of the difference. He was a fantastic innovator about making small changes but making lots of them. The challenge in a business perspective, if you innovate, and you make lots of changes, it’s often hard to know which one actually worked. So you’ve got to do it in a well-managed manner. Innovation doesn’t have to be a massive thing. One of our customers used to have a very manual process in their finance department, and it necessitated physical pieces of paper being moved around the department, and it worked really well for them. However, in the distributed environment we found ourselves in during COVID, when people were no longer allowed they still needed to manage that process, which was a corporate finance process. And so we delivered a simple app that manages the process in the same way. We just innovated through a small simple piece of technology and delivered a very effective solution.

Michael Lonnon: 04:55

So it took away a laborious process?

Brian Hynes: 04:57

When you introduce something new, something innovative, you should show how simple something can be, making it easier to embrace. That’s where something like the power platform and modern workplace is a powerful solution because it does help drive innovation in small incremental ways. Even in very difficult commercial times, this company in particular is continuing their journey of innovation, they’re looking to improve how their customers interact, they’re looking to improve the customer journey, they’re looking to plan it, they’re looking to adapt from a what were the traditional probably footfall model to a much more digital model, and the impact that had on the supply chain, for example, and all of that complexity. So those small, small changes in the marketplace can have quite dramatic effects throughout an entire business, and will impact across multiple streams.

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Michael Lonnon: 06:10

What’s the challenge or what’s the danger for businesses who don’t look to evolve in any small incremental way where they perhaps have got a single product that’s doing well as a cash cow for them, they don’t feel like they need to push out to innovate to change in any particular way? What is the danger for companies like that or that kind of thinking?

Brian Hynes: 06:31

I suppose in some way, look at what Michael Dell did back in the 80s. Great example, you had two massive companies who dominated the marketplace. They were very traditional role route to market to were very successful. And then Michael Dell came in with a complete new innovative way of building PC to actual specifications for personalising it and literally change that marketplace? Now, does every market have a Michael Dell? No, of course it doesn’t. But one of the challenges of standing still is you become you become the typewriter in a PC, one that is the PC era, that is the real challenge. And it also does depend on your marketplace. Because if I am in a consumer facing marketplace, and that doesn’t necessarily have to be in retail, but if I’m in you know, CPG where my products are going into the outlet, we all know that consumers want to innovate, they want to change, and therefore that forcing the company to keep up with that momentum, they don’t have a choice or they will literally be bypassed.

Michael Lonnon: 07:37

Yeah, competitors, will you serve them?

Brian Hynes: 07:39

Absolutely. We’ve seen some of the new digital models, whether or not they make money that’s a whole different factor, but if I look at Uber and how that’s changed the marketplace, you look at ordering a McDonald’s and it gets delivered to my house like Just eat, the pandemic has driven phenomenal growth because you see them everywhere you go. You see huge amounts of these small couriers now delivering food, which two years ago may have happened but on a much smaller scale. So there will always be market changes like that, that dramatically affect the marketplace. But then if I’m a capital goods manufacturer or I’m a large machine manufacturer, for example, yes, they still need to innovate, but I probably don’t have to innovate it the same way to the company. So my point there is it has to be market specific

Michael Lonnon: 08:47

Where would you start? Perhaps you’re one of those organisations who has a well-known single product that is a cash cow, but realise there’s a danger you’re going to be taken over by competitors or perhaps customers are going to want something slightly different. Where can they start to innovate? My opinion of innovation is it cannot be forced, you cannot just come up with something just because but is there somewhere that an organisation could start?

Brian Hynes: 09:24

If you want to look at innovation and if you want to think about your company, you need to understand your marketplace, you need to understand your customers and you need to understand that interaction of that customer journey. So for me, it will be about ensuring that I have got information in a centralised format in a timely manner, preferably in a business application that delivers the customer insight I need, because if I truly understand what my customers want and I understand where the market is going, then my approach to innovation is more likely to succeed. But it all comes from understanding what shape that might take even what might work in the marketplace, and what my customers need. Therefore, having information about the customer and being able to analyse it centrally in a strategic level is very, very important and that will be a key starting point and, in our industry, in line with customer, that is something I can see as a trend. It’s trying to understand in detail the truth, a customer insights programme, what exactly is it my customers are doing, what is it they want, and then trying to predict what they’re going to need

Innovation isn’t always big bang. Sometimes the smallest of innovations can drive the biggest changes. Let’s face it, we’re not all going to come up with the next Uber, Just Eat, or Air BNB – but changes in technology today means we have more of the tools needed to take make simple ideas reality. For example, tools like Power Apps enables you to build the very technology you have in your mind. And so as I’ve mentioned before, it means today we’re only limited by our imagination.

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