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Ready, set, compete: The benefits of IT innovation

Stacy Collett | Jan. 15, 2013
Welcome to 2013. As IT budgets loosen up and new projects get queued up, IT is learning to quickly tap into creative ideas for competitive advantage in a cutthroat marketplace.

But Krestakos says it's important to balance innovation projects and other IT responsibilities. Otherwise, resource constraints on either end can cause conflicts.

"IT organizations have their own projects, commitments and timetables, and innovation can sometimes be seen as a distraction," Krestakos explains. "So we don't want to have too many things in flight from an innovation standpoint, but enough to keep us busy and thinking about what's possible."

In many cases, partners can help organizations bridge resource gaps. For example, Steelcase often enlists the MIT Media Lab and its more than 140 master's degree and Ph.D. student researchers to harness "outside thinking" and help Steelcase formulate hypotheses and conduct research that goes along with an idea, Krestakos adds.

Still, all Steelcase employees have the opportunity to come up with ideas and participate in experiments if they wish, and their enthusiasm for innovation work continues to grow.

"It's starting to feel like [innovation] is not just centered in one part of the organization. Anyone can participate," Krestakos says. "I think that's critically important to [building] optimism inside the organization."

For its part, Hertz seeks innovative ideas from all corners of the organization as a way to stay ahead in the rental car race. "We're making some big bets [on innovation], and that's exciting," Eckroth says. "If you're not willing to do that, you have to be willing to become a commodity and run in second or third place."


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