What we have learnt from our corporate innovation programs?

A Short guide to helping your corporate innovation strategy succeed .

Enrupt has identified a pipeline of more than 20 corporate innovation programs in the energy sectors across the world. Yet, the results, translated into a number of new, disruptive solutions and business models that succeed in the field are not always demonstrated.

In the past two years, Enrupt has been involved and observing closely corporates on innovation projects in South East Asia, Middle East and Europe. Our work with energy innovators on disrupting different aspects of the business has given us a good understanding of what defines success and what are the common pitfalls for businesses attempting corporate innovation.

This is a list critical of issues to look out for to build a successful corporate innovation programme in energy:

1. Your objective is not clear.

What is the objective of your innovation strategy or initiative? That’s the question we often ask our partners to answer. The next step then is to assess if the objective is realistic and achievable. Innovation is is a tool and not an activity in itself. Everyone wants to innovate to create value and that’s why it is important to drill down to the “why” before getting started.

Our recommendation:

  • Start with a small brainstorming session internally and later with your customers and partners to explore the following questions:

  • What is the purpose of this innovation activity?

  • How does it connect to the company/department/individual strategic objectives and KPIs?

  • What do you want to get out of it at the end?

2. You may not have the infrastructure you need.

And we don’t mean fancy innovation labs and prototyping facilities. We mean people, who think differently, who are not bound by the usual way of working. People who can think outside the box. Innovation is not a process, it is an ecosystem. We have seen new ideas come to realization through the creation and maintenance of an innovative ecosystem.

Our recommendation:

Encourage and create conditions of an innovation ecosystem for your staff to participate. Ecosystems will open the participant's eyes to new ideas when they are built around your objectives. For example, Enrupt builds energy-specific ecosystems which helped our participants - corporations and startups to establish client - supplier relationships.

3. You haven’t set the timeline correctly.

You may be looking to disrupt your own industry or identify a new business model. If you are on the journey to innovation, you have probably figured out an execution timeline. However, spend time to gauge if the timeline is accurate. You will need to go with the assumption that the timeline will need to be flexible and yet realistic. In some cases, it takes more than a few months just to redirect your corporate strategy. Innovating especially in energy is bound to stretch the timeline.

Our recommendation:

Work out a realistic timeline for your innovation objectives that fits with the scale of the challenge. For example, while one-day innovation challenge with your employees and partners will be helpful to uncover few new ideas you have not thought off, it will take several sessions and weeks to concretise the ideas into specific projects which will require then internal approvals within your company.

4. You don’t have a strategy for what kind of startups you want to work with.

Not all startups are the same. They go through their own journey and serve different types of customers. Getting clarity on what are the type of startup you want to engage with will set the expectation right and set your innovation programme for success.

Our recommendation:

  • Strategise the type of startup you want to engage with in terms of:

  • Startup stage of development

  • Digital capability

  • Segment of energy sector

Readiness to deploy immediately in the current market conditions or strategic value for your business.

5. You haven’t established a clear connection between your business KPIs and business unit counterparts

Innovation is a tool for business to succeed and needs to be embedded within your business structure. This means direct connection to the strategic KPIs and to the business units, at KPI and staff level. We have seen that the most successful corporate innovation department work in sync with their business units and address their challenges.

Our recommendation:

From the outset, connect and evaluate your corporate innovation activity in relation to your core business. Delivering tangible business value (new revenues or savings on costs is what will make it last). For example: If your objective is to save SGD 10 Million in this fiscal year in your asset operation and maintenance, we will work together to identify startup technology that will deliver on that goal for you.

Have you faced other challenges or do you want to know more about Enrupt experience with innovating in the energy sector?

Get in touch and we are happy to share our expertise.

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Katarina Hasbani