Innovation labs have become an increasingly popular feature of corporate culture over the past few years, but you don’t have to be a big global brand to see the benefits of starting one. The following are a few ways a lab strategy can benefit businesses of all sizes.
Here at Mission Data, we’re excited by the possibilities associated with experimenting with emerging technology. To demonstrate our love for the “game” as well as stay competitive with leading market concepts, we decided to start Mission Data Labs last year. A few benefits we’ve seen since starting our lab initiative have been an enhanced brand, new partners and clients, and a thriving culture of learning and creativity.
Interested in learning how a lab can improve your business? Based on our own experiences, here are a few ways any company can benefit from starting an innovation lab:
Improve Your Ability to Guide Clients and Prospects
When we begin a new Labs project, our team of technologists and executives seek to start simple. The objective is to gain a solid grasp of the fundamentals of emerging technologies such as augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR), the Internet of Things (IoT), iBeacons, machine learning, haptics, or voice interfaces.
Experimenting with new tech hands-on naturally deepens our skills and understanding so that we can guide clients through evolving technological landscapes.
Additionally, when clients come to us with their visions for new products, we are able to show them potential new features and efficiencies, and offer our insight to separate myths from reality.
Encourage Collaboration and Coopetition
One distinct trait of our tech industry is its culture of coopetition. Coopetition is when competitors collaborate to achieve mutually beneficial results. This strategy is arguably a core reason for the rise of Silicon Valley, and establishing an innovation lab supports this approach. On our blog, we publish notes from all of our Labs projects, whether a success or failure, so others can learn from our experiences. We don’t mind that our competitors see our failures or discover how pedestrian our projects can be.
Often, we look for opportunities to collaborate on lab projects with competitors, using our diverse perspectives and expertise to either create a new solution or show potential clients a bigger idea than any one company could produce alone. Coopetition also validates whether two firms can work together. In many ways, companies that prove they can partner can be a real point of interest for potential clients — sometimes it takes a mix of capabilities and joint solutions to turn a big idea into a reality.
Gauge Trends Better
Lastly, Our clients are hearing how new technologies such as AI, IoT, and AR/VR will play key roles in the future of digital transformation. It is easy for anyone to become overwhelmed by the hype surrounding new tech, and a lot of times they ask us which trends are real versus exaggerated. Are they already too late? Will they be too early? What should they plan for? With our Labs work, we have a better understanding of which tools, tech and methods have true business value. On the other hand, as engineers we sometimes see tech that isn’t hyped at all, but may be solid enough to use. In the end, we are able to show clients which aspects of emerging technologies would truly work with their product vision before we begin building.
These are just a few of the benefits we’ve experienced from starting our innovation lab, and we’ll keep sharing more as we continue our journey. You can check out some of the Lab projects we’ve done so far here.
Originally published August 18, 2016 in our journal over at Medium
Want to learn more about how emerging tech can give your business a competitive advantage? Register to attend our webinar, “Power Up Your People: Emerging Tech and the Frictionless Employee Experience”