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Catch the key learnings at our recap video!

On 3 December 2021, Gamuda Excellence Transformation (GET) hosted its fifth TechTalks with two speakers: Peter Wee, CEO coach plus Council Member of the Malaysian Business Angel Network plus Subash Palani, certified Agile Coach with Maybank as Head of Agility.  Their talk titled “Get Ahead of the Curve: Innovate from Within!” was centered on corporate innovation.

Peter began by using Grab’s recent listing in the New York Stock Exchange to illustrate three types of innovation: incremental, breakthrough and transformative. Grab’s success strategies included adding value to their application with small improvements like number masking. Beyond e-hailing, Grab also started offering delivery and banking services. He also polled the audience where the majority opined changing the company culture is important for innovation, as per the following case study.

How Ricoh Weathered the Storm

Peter shared his previous experiences with Ricoh’s innovation journey. Ricoh used to offer mainly photocopying services and was hit by the problem of a ‘burning platform’ when revenues started to stagnate. Customers’ preferences were shifting, for example from printing to scanning documents more. Peter outlined Ricoh’s overhaul with McKinsey’s Three Horizon Model, step-by-step:

  • Ricoh increased branches while maintaining customer satisfaction of their original services
  • Employees were upskilled to offer IT services and document management
  • Ricoh diversified their services to include CCTV and teleconferencing facilities

Ricoh acquired a broadband management company to merge various businesses under one contract. This retained clients’ loyalty as it reduced the cost of seeking multiple vendors. From RM108 million in 2011, Ricoh’s revenue had increased to RM200 million by 2017.

What Makes an Innovation Team?

Subash then elaborated further on innovation teams. Desirable characteristics include having a clear mission and members with diverse skillsets. He also emphasised on the need of creating a ‘psychological safety net’ to spur ideas. Even with clear areas of responsibility, it is crucial to give the teams autonomy in their work in order to challenge the norm. He gave an example of how his team at Maybank once identified a gap in the market. They observed that a significant segment of the “unbanked” consist of people too intimidated to step into a bank and open an account. Maybank responded by setting up mobile stations to overcome this barrier. Notably, ROI[1] expectations and sustaining momentum for innovation are also balancing acts that play into the success of an innovation

The speakers then took questions from the floor, with Kyle Ewe, Digital Lead from Gamuda Engineering joining the panel. Here are some reflections:

  • When it comes to weighing the risks and opportunities of a potential innovation, it is best to test the idea on a smaller scale to gather immediate feedback and respond to the risks accordingly.

“A smaller win is better than one big failure”
– Kyle’s former boss

  • On anticipating disruptors and preparing for them, Kyle noted how the Covid-19 pandemic changed the construction industry. This catalyzed digitalization within the workplace as employees began working remotely. However, continuous progress is crucial to prevent post-pandemic complacency.
  • “It’s not about the idea, it’s about execution”. Subash mentioned Facebook’s successful strategy of improvising on their competitors’ ideas to generate new ones. Similarly, this was how different brands of smartphones penetrated the market after the iPhone’s release.
  • All speakers agreed that testing market desirability must start small with an MVP[2].

Lastly, here are the panelists recommended reading on innovation

  • How Google Works – Eric Schmidt
  • The Lean Startup – Eric Ries
  • Zero to One – Peter Theil

To wrap up, the new GET Portal was unveiled, serving as a collaborative platform for innovation projects. Just like how Ricoh innovated to get ahead of the curve in their industry, we are here to do the same.

[1]return of investment

[2] minimum viable product

Series: TechTalks | Part 5Browse the series Related topics: corporate innovationcultureTechTalks