14 Aug 2015

Last week, we wrote about how our Director of R&D, Marc Boudria, was attending the Third Annual Houston IT Symposium and participating in a breakaway session entitled Facing the Challenges of Incorporating Innovation In Business Strategy. After returning, he definitely had some feedback.

According to Boudria–who did want to emphasize that he was honored to attend–the conference overall was great. It was well attended, there were well-spoken people, and everyone that presented did a fantastic job.

(A particular favorite of Boudria’s was Laura Capper of Knomatic, a company that creates mobile apps for the oilfield. Capper spoke about how important it is for companies to budget maintenance of their apps and for updates, and to account for the fact that an application is never finished and there will be costs associated with keeping it up to date. In other words, software is never done.)

Boudria did, however, have one quarrel with the conference, and that was the paradoxical concept of integrating innovation into IT. We sat down with our director of R&D to break down a few key points…

IT should not be looked to as an innovation center.

When you look at IT, the job by its very definition is to not innovate. It’s to maintain stability and a good operating stack for the company. The definition of the job hinders one’s ability to innovate, because why would you take a risk when it’s your job to keep things running? A mistake leads to downtime and companies can’t afford that.

Innovation is failure.

Not every rabbit hole leads to a cavern; some lead to dead ends. Innovation is all about failure. You can’t innovate without making mistakes–that’s how you learn.  IT doesn’t afford you the opportunity to do that.

IT is important for supporting innovation.

You can’t look at IT to drive innovation, but instead to support whoever’s been tasked with making change and experimenting with the new. One way IT can support innovation is by being the keepers of the resources we need to innovate and work with us to expose the resources in the way we need them.

Innovation as a mindset (and department) is crucial to a business’s growth and success.

Innovation is a philosophy, an attitude, but it pays off to have a designated department who has the ability to experiment, and innovation labs can be key to a company’s success.

The innovation center builds bridges and pushes the company towards the future.

The goal of the innovation center is to be in the middle of everything. The people there need to have divergent skillsets, to think differently. The concept of thinking outside the box isn’t even applicable, because they don’t see one.

“What box?” Boudria asked. “All I see is a Cosmic Hierarchy of Omniinterationally-phased, Nuclear-centered, Convergently-divergently Intertransformable Systems.”

(Don’t understand? Few of us do. That’s where the “thinking differently” comes in.)

The innovators should be some of the best communicators, and they need to be bridge-builders and work with design, development, sales—every department. Everybody’s brilliant at what they do; it’s a matter of making them more brilliant as a whole, and innovation centers can do that. At Chaotic Moon, our innovation lab, BASE, is housed under business development, because the goal is to be on the front lines, to serve as the driving force and explore options that can push the business forward.

As Chaotic Moon CEO Ben Lamm has said, “We’ve made innovation our mission since the very beginning, and every day we’re striving to discover something new, something better. Chaotic Moon is about forward-thinking on every level—about taking risks and trying out new tech to catapult ourselves and our clients into the future of the digital age.”

That being said, we don’t rely on an IT department to do it.  We rely on IT to help us do it better.