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- Deborah Fraser, Director - Regions (chair)
- Ben Griffin, Innovation Lead, Design, Innovate UK
- Dan Watson, Co-founder & CEO, SafetyNet Technologies
- Jeremy James, Managing Partner, Ownet
Jeremy James (Ownet)
In setting up their own firm, one of their key actions to take was to embed an element of human-centred design in all aspects of the planning, development and rollout. Their overarching aim was to establish “would this make clients successful”.
In looking to adapt new processes to fit their business, they didn’t operate in isolation and felt confident to look at other was in which firms had adopted innovative ideas into their ways of working.
When planning, mapping out the ‘customer journey’, and ensured they embedded a means of regular review and re-think through regular feedback from the clients and internally.
Although there are often costs associated with adopting ‘innovation’, it should be seen as a necessary spend, rather than a ‘nice-to-do’. The organisations that do innovate will be those to take the lead, so every firm should be regularly looking to do things better
One initiative that Ownet have developed is ‘digital twins’, which allow them to ‘de-risk’ many of the aspects of innovation, by creating a parallel organisation digitally; through which they can test and analyse the impacts of changes, and retain the learning gleaned for future initiatives.
Human-centred design is not just for brand new products or services and is essential for consideration when looking at smaller scale changes like introducing a new process, or other means of driving efficiency.
Dan Watson (SNTechnologies)
For SNTechnologies, innovation is a way of looking at the substance of sectors, identifying the challenges, and looking at ways in which they could be overcome.
Dan confirmed that a large part of their success in introducing new products and services has come from a regular review and checking-in with clients to ensure its having the impact desired and needed.
SNTechnologies consult with firms on all stages of the supply chain and use this intelligence to help make strategic decision and ensure continuous improvement to the product.
A crucial aspect to innovation, is being able to discern if demand exists for a new product, or for an upgraded or revamped version. Dan stressed the importance of understanding the real ‘need’ for a product before investing your energies into it, or whether its more useful to potentially look at diversification of the firm.
When thinking about the challenges involved in using human-centred design, its vital to have a feedback loop. If you aren’t stress-testing the new idea or process at all stages to ensure adaptability. Conversations between the organisation and the end user need to happen regularly and requires firms to show a little ‘vulnerability’ and being open to hearing frank feedback.
Ben Griffin (InnovateUK)
The world needs great ideas to overcome our current challenges, and its vital to find sustainable ways to support a high quality of life. Innovation is vital but finding the time and resources to do it are another matter. “Technology can make new ideas possible, but only people can make them successful”
Design provides a ‘human-centred’ approach to help companies do things better, and InnovateUK have recently written a design strategy to outline why its important to include, and gives firms tips on how they can do it better.
InnovateUK ant the ideas they support to have the best possible chance of success and including the principles of design can play a significant role in this.
InnovateUK run grant-based competitions for innovation funding, with 20 opportunities currently live for entrants or due to go live within the next month.
Ben was asked about the trade-off between innovation and being able to present yourself as a less ‘risky’ investment as part of tendering. Ben recognised this difficulty and confirmed that a large part of the team’s remit is to help firms with their questions and concerns ahead of submitting an application. The Design Strategy also has useful information in this area.