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Innovation Overdrive

2017 will deliver new technological, social and political challenges to business. After a decade of iterative innovation, we’re shifting into a new phase of innovation through invention. This month we look at a world that’s shifting from innovation by small steps, to invention-led seismic shifts in the way businesses adapt, evolve and realign its priorities.

3 min

Have we reached peak innovation?



Have we reached peak innovation?

It’s the word on everyone’s lips, but it turns out the key to unlocking innovative potential lies in better understanding its meaning.

As noted historian Yuval Harari argues in his bestselling book, Sapiens, innovation has been one of the driving forces in human evolution for millennia.

Consider fire, for example. Early humans were what Yuval terms an “animal of no significance” until they started using fire for warmth, protection and cooking. Later, when humans started settling in to agricultural societies, crude forms of writing appeared – primarily for accounting.

This raises a distinction between innovation and invention: humans didn’t invent fire, the application of it was the innovation. They didn’t invent the clay for the tablets they wrote on but they did invent writing.

Millennia later, renowned education thought leader and speaker Sir Ken Robinson echoes this concept in his views on the human creative process.

“It’s important to me because I think it’s what sets us apart from the rest of the life on earth and very little does,” Robinson says. “But clearly something does and other creatures with whom we share most of our existence and our characteristics may sing but they don’t compose operas.”

Clearly, modern humans have a much greater volume of “clay” at their disposal and contend with a commercial environment vastly more sophisticated than that of their early ancestors. However, the chief executive of technology commercialisation consultancy Terem Technologies, Scott Middleton, offers a succinct definition of the relationship between invention and innovation. He suggests the basic concepts underlying them for modern businesses remain the same.

“For me invention is the creation of something new,” Middleton says. “It could be something that’s digital or something like a medical device or drug. Innovation is the process of taking that to market to create value that wasn’t there before.”

Innovation doesn’t always have to be about invention, it can be about process change, new business models or the application of something that exists to a new area.

Jeff Boslem, regional manager for collaboration, Cisco Australia and New Zealand, expresses similar sentiments when he talks about his own business line.

“Innovation is a bit like collaboration,” Boslem says. “It can mean a variety of things to many people, but they all share close linkages."

"Reducing cost and improving efficiency can only do so much, businesses need to create new sources of value with innovation. Improving collaboration to connect your people faster ensures you are more agile, which accelerates the development of ideas that lead to innovations.”

“Innovation is a bit like collaboration. It can mean a variety of things to many people, but they all share close linkages.”

-Jeff Boslem, regional manager for collaboration, Cisco Australia and New Zealand


Middleton says that while the word innovation may be overused, every company still needs to think about creating new value in these simple terms. The challenge, he says, is that most companies are inherently geared to resist innovation and reinforce a system that works.

However, for companies to really make a difference and develop “disruptive value” they need to be seriously committed, Middleton says. He points out that Amazon.com spends about 10% of revenue on research and development, which is $13.3bn US per year in real terms.

Generally, the companies that are better at creating this value take time to carve out a creative process for their employees that allows them to refine their ideas rapidly and constantly. Middleton describes this as an iterative and ongoing process.

Middleton points to the example of comedian Jerry Seinfeld who is reputedly committed to writing new material every day. Perhaps not every joke will work but Seinfeld is still more likely to generate a body of new material from which to profit.

Similarly, Middleton says, innovators could find creative, new ways to extract value from their business simply by writing down 10 new ideas every day. An approach that he says is akin to those companies that innovate most effectively because they are more concerned about the pace at which they generate ideas than their quality.


In summary

  • The most innovative companies carve out a creative process for their employees that allows them to refine their ideas rapidly.
  • Innovation is an iterative and ongoing process that means different things to different people.
  • Innovators could find creative ways to extract value from their business simply by writing down 10 new ideas every day.

The IoT promises tremendous opportunities for innovation, driven by insights from data analytics and near real-time connectivity on a wide range of compatible devices or ‘things’. To learn more, download the whitepaper.

2 min

How to keep your company creative



How to keep your company creative

Challenged by increasing disruption – digital and organisational – companies are investing in their capacity for innovation and invention to remain competitive.

Few can lay claim to a true understanding of the relationship between innovation, invention and creativity, says Sir Ken Robinson, globally renowned thought leader in education and author of several bestselling books on the nature of creativity.

He believes many companies are blind to our natural ability to mesh the three.

Robinson argues that the key is to engage individuals who have become disengaged from their internal aspirations while struggling with business environments that stymie creativity.

“That’s what I’m arguing for, really,” Robinson says. “I’m trying to get people to reframe themselves – both in what companies are capable of and what the people inside them can do if we allow more fluidity in our understanding of their talents and interests.”

He points to a British creative agency that encouraged departments from art to finance to run workshops in their speciality for staff in other areas. This led not only to people discovering hidden talents and passions, it also increased interdepartmental collaboration and ignited a more vibrant sense of corporate identity.

“If you want people to reveal their talents, give them a chance,” Robinson says.


How to keep your company creative

  • Sir Ken Robinson
    Professor Emeritus, University of Warwick, UK, global thought leader in education.
  • People often think that creativity is just about the arts. It is about the arts – but not only – you can be creative in mathematics and science and technology.

    What alienates people in organisations, I think, is where they feel their real talents are marginalised or not fully understood and where they have no role in the larger workings of the company.

    If you focus only on the strict function for which you are employed, your life can become very narrowed. But if that role in the organisation is also part of a larger participation in the life of the organisation itself, then it can become much more fulfilling.

    If you want people to reveal their talents, give them a chance.

    It’s about fresh thinking – at least to you, and it may be fresh to the world, eventually. It’s about ideas that add value and what that means is that creativity isn’t just, properly conceived, it’s not just whatever comes to your head.

    You can be creative without feeling passionate about something. But I, on the whole, think the most productive work in different fields is driven when people have an abiding interest and commitment to a particular form of work.

    How to keep your company creative
2 min

Building the integrated healthcare precinct



Building the integrated healthcare precinct

A unique healthcare model is emerging in Queensland that innovators say can easily be applied elsewhere. So what’s holding us up?

We’ve seen lots of innovation in many sectors, but there’s still not enough discussion around innovation in the healthcare environment,” says Dr. Jeffrey Tobias, managing director of innovation consultants The Strategy Group. He believes the pace of innovation in healthcare is too slow.

“While we’ve seen disruption occur in most other industries we’re yet to see real disruption in the healthcare space, but we will. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.”

The next big healthcare challenge: integrated healthcare that spans the spectrum – health, wellness, disease prevention, primary care and acute care – from GP surgeries and allied health practices to public and private hospitals and aged care facilities.

A landmark example of such innovation is taking shape within the masterplanned city of Greater Springfield.

Greater Springfield, located in the Ipswich local government area about 30 kilometres south-west of Brisbane, is a 2860-hectare greenfield development that will eventually be home to 130,000 residents.

Part of the development is Health City, a 52-hectare, purpose-designed precinct that aims to deliver health and wellness services “in a co-ordinated, integrated fashion to ensure patients receive a complete and holistic experience,” the city’s website says.

The precinct’s foundation tenant is the $85 million Mater Private Hospital, which comprises 80 beds, a day-surgery unit, four digitally integrated operating theatres, medical imaging services and a cancer-care centre. In 2016, retirement community provider Aveo also commenced work on a $1 billion, 10-hectare senior living development within Health City that will comprise 2500 units to be built over 20 years.

Designed from the ground up, the connected precinct will work to provide information flows through communication technologies across the entire facility.

Springfield Land Corporation’s chief executive of education and health enterprises, Terry Kearney, who is responsible for overseeing development of the Health City precinct, believes Springfield’s innovative approach to integrated healthcare will be watched closely by governments, policymakers and urban planners.

“What we are planning to have in Springfield is a microcosm of Australia’s health system – Springfield is the perfect petri dish for anyone looking at innovation in health public policy,” Kearney says.

“What we have at Springfield is a successful blend of government and private enterprises working hand-in-hand to deliver integrated health services in a way that we believe will become embedded in public policy thinking.


“What we’re creating in Springfield is a microcosm of Australia’s health system. Springfield is the perfect petri dish for anyone looking at innovation in health public policy.”

-Terry Kearney, Chief Executive Officer, Education and Health Enterprises, Greater Springfield Land Corporation


The dedicated health precinct will be complemented by “health hubs”, located throughout Greater Springfield, that provide a range of allied health services.

“We believe we can create an integrated health model that provides patients with a seamless service and we are well on the way to doing so,” Kearney says.

He says innovation in healthcare – in particular the provision of seamless, integrated healthcare – is a public policy challenge made possible by technology.

Through customer-centric design clinicians are able to care for clients across multiple settings thanks to technological integration throughout the precinct. For doctors this means access to all client records, including in room care and contextual information to make sure they are doing the very best for their clients. For nurses, this may mean working across different care settings within the precinct to deliver great care, at the same time as allowing for greater flexibility in shiftwork to suit lifestyle.

Kearney says the ideal healthcare model involves everyone having a much better understanding of their own health.

“Technology is critical for the creation of a new health paradigm that puts the consumer at its centre,” he says.

“We have an opportunity to redefine the future of healthcare in Australia,” he says.


In summary

  • ♣ A big challenge in healthcare is developing an “end-to-end” model spanning the spectrum from primary care to allied health.
  • Queensland’s Greater Springfield is home to Health City, a 52-hectare purpose-planned and partially built precinct delivering co-ordinated health and wellness services.
  • Innovation in healthcare – particularly the provision of seamless, integrated healthcare – is a public policy challenge made easier by technology.

For more information on how Telstra Health can assist your business contact your AE or call 1800 HEALTH..


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2 min

Big data dilemmas – and how to solve them



Big data dilemmas – and how to solve them

If the great political upsets of 2016 hold a single lesson for businesses, it is this: you can’t bank on assumptions and you shouldn’t take loyalty for granted.

In the ’data economy’, business marketers and strategists increasingly rely on ’big data’ to improve decision-making processes, better understand markets and consumer behaviour, and more accurately predict outcomes.

While political scientists ponder the meaning of last year’s unexpected outcomes, business leaders are wondering why data science didn’t pick up the winds of change in the world’s political landscape and whether this failure has implications for businesses that use data to drive their marketing strategies.

The simple – and sobering – message is that data doesn’t eliminate mistakes, entrenched biases, and poor judgment.

A global consumer study by Accenture Strategy illustrates just how easy it is for companies to stick to ostensibly ‘tried and true’ marketing tactics even as their customers drift away.

The report, Seeing beyond the loyalty illusion: It’s time you invest more wisely, gauged the attitudes of 25,426 consumers around the world about their loyalty relationship with brands and organisations. It found that while 90% of companies currently employ some form of customer engagement or loyalty program, 71% of customers claim loyalty programs did not engender loyalty, and 23% of consumers demonstrated a “negative or non-existent reaction” to loyalty programs particularly younger consumers.

The report concluded: “Loyalty still matters. It always will. But today, as the correlation between customers’ loyalty sentiments and purchasing behaviours continues to weaken, it’s becoming clear that the old loyalty rules no longer apply”.

How can businesses be so out of touch with their customers at a time when there has never been more data available about consumers’ behaviours and attitudes?

Mark van Rijmenam, CEO of Datafloq, says the crucial point is not access to data, but rather how that data is used.

“You can have two companies where both have access to the same data but different analyses can result in different insights and outcomes”, he says.

Van Rijmenam says the quality of data analysis – not data itself – is the key to developing a competitive advantage. He believes that as the transition to the digital economy deepens that data will become the stock-in-trade of every business, which will require a change in mindset. It’s an adjustment he believes businesses should be making now.

“We’re all data businesses. Every company should consider itself a data company – a data company that happens to create consumer products. If you have that perspective, it changes everything,” van Rijmenam says.


“We’re all data businesses. Every company should consider itself a data company – a data company that happens to create consumer products. If you have that perspective, it changes everything.”

-Mark van Rijmenam, Founder of Datafloq


During a recent trip to Australia, Andrew Davis, an internationally recognised thought leader in content marketing, observed that “marketers have a real problem understanding the difference between reporting on the right things and measuring the right things”.

“Marketers have this unbelievable and uncanny ability to inspire people to buy the things they sell…there are great ways to measure that. There are very simple ways, you can use things like Google Trends, which is one of my favourite tools, to actually chart and measure how a market moves; and then you can actually measure your impact on the market.”

In a data-rich environment, Davis says the ability exists to segment markets and target customers like never before, yet many companies still utilise a broad brush approach.

“In the online world, we have this belief we should target everyone, when in fact, targeting everyone reaches no one. We've really got to get past the idea that we can't target in very smart ways” he says.

“We have this unbelievable power to dive deep into an audience. I call it fractal marketing. If you take the audience you're going after and you divide and sub-divide your audience constantly, you'll find a new audience that you never knew you could address.”


Businesses are increasingly relying on hosted infrastructure and cloud data services. As your connectivity requirements grow, you’ll want your network to be as flexible as the data centres to which they connect. Ask your AE how to make this a reality.


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