I’m writing this sitting in a tent at the side of Gosforth Park Racecourse at the end of day 1 of the Northumbrian Water Group Innovation Festival. It’s a nice tent, more of a marquee, the kind of thing you might hire for a wedding. The place is covered with them.
There are two more days to follow. This time we’ve been talking about innovation in the cyber security sector, a subject of great interest to me. The group was diverse and experienced, not just in cyber but in management, engagement and human centred design.
What have I learnt? Quite a lot really. Firstly, like cyber, innovation isn’t one thing but rather a scale of things. Innovation goes on all the time but can be at a small scale or a much larger change. It can also be in product as well as services. I used to think that innovation, in cyber, was a problem for the region but have come to realise that that is not true. We have many companies that are innovating and we are probably as healthy as any other region.
What we are not so good at however, is creating new businesses in cyber security. They are few and far between.
I have now realised though that to be a truly innovative company you need to have a set of tools and processes that embed the concepts in the business. Innovation rarely happens by accident though it is often an accident that causes the initial conditions to make innovation happen. No, it is another process that businesses have to manage. Having the ideas is easy, making them into commercial reality is another matter. Truly innovative companies are those that have embraced the processes and set time and resources aside to make it happen.
Once companies realise this then they can become a different type of business. Innovation can ramp up successfully leading to greater growth. All companies innovate but only some companies are innovative. If you want to be truly innovative then you need to understand the tools that are available and learn how to use them.
This is some of what I have learnt today.