By: Kathleen Wolf Davis, March 23, 2018
We think of the innovator as a loner: Darwin tracking the footsteps of unusual finches in the Galapagos, Tesla toiling alone in Wardenclyffe on his massive transmitter, Curie busy isolating isotopes in a converted shed outside the École Normale Supérieure.
But in reality, innovation doesn't take seed and blossom in a vacuum. There are people, ideas, and thinking that came before to lay groundwork, and there are chats, experiments, and happy accidents every day that make the ongoing potential (and spark) of innovation possible.
Darwin chased his theories alongside a now relatively unknown naturalist—at least in popular culture—named Alfred Russel Wallace. It was a real rivalry, and it drove him. Tesla lived in a scientific world made financially and physically possible by Edison. It was a turbulent relationship, but it drove him. Curie built on the X-ray work of Wilhelm Roentegen and Henri Becquerel while teaching. It was the very definition of mentoring, and it drove her.
Innovation in any form is driven by rivalries, by relationships, by reversals of fortune. It's driven by concepts, by collaboration, by conversations. It's driven by people coming together to talk about what's new, what's hype, and what's truly on the horizon.
At Oracle Industry Connect this year, innovation can be found in every conversation, across every represented industry from energy to retail, whether you're looking for information on Blockchain, artificial intelligence, IoT, or new and exciting concepts of customer experience.
Darren Bechtel, founder of Brick & Mortar Ventures and a speaker at the Construction and Engineering program at the conference summed it up for his industry.
“For an (architecture, engineering, and construction) organization to remain relevant, survive, and thrive over the next 10 years, we believe they need to be investing in innovation right now,” he said. “And much more than just talking about it, they need to be actively seeking out new technologies and learning how to work with the new generation of ever-improving solutions, or they will have a hard time remaining competitive.”
It's not just construction and engineering looking toward new ideas to remain competitive. This in-the-now view of innovation comes from a single source—disruption.
Every major industry has been dissecting major disruptors and determining how to react for a number of years. The innovation conversation is the next major step in that process.
“From Netflix to WhatsApp, digital disruptors are everywhere,” added Dave Shively, group vice president and general manager, Oracle Insurance. “It is happening in the insurance industry as well. Many insurers are using core systems replacement as the foundation for digital transformation, which insurers are counting on to help them become more agile and responsive.”
A number of new innovative concepts answer those disruptions and enable industries from construction to hospitality to be more agile. Blockchain, for example, enables faster, more real-time energy markets and also has the potential for verification and establishing integrity in clinical research and healthcare. So the deep-dive facets of a variety of innovative touchstones are infinite.
But one area in particular is rising to the top of every industry when it comes to innovative thinking—and that's reworking, re-examining, and in some cases, completely rebuilding the customer experience. What do customers see? What do they hear? What do they want? And first and foremost: What do they need and what should stores, hotels, and healthcare providers offer to answer that need?
In the energy and utilities field—one of the many industries represented at Oracle Industry Connect—they're starting with the basics.
“Innovation is not about the tech,” said Lawrence Orsini, CEO of LO3 Energy and speaker in the Energy and Utilities program at the conference. “It's the people. They're going to be interested in services [and not necessarily about energy in general]. We've got to engage people in ways they comprehend; it's the biggest hurdle we have.”
“Engaging [customers] on the right channel at the right time—whether through HD voice, HD video, screen sharing, or annotations—can bring new dimension to mobile and business apps,” shared Oracle Communications' Jason Emery, vice president of SaaS Solutions, adding a communications industry viewpoint to this growing customer focus.
Indeed, while the tech shouldn't be the beginning of any customer conversation, for many industries, getting down to the elements of customer-listening sparks new forays into new gadgets and software.
In the areas of retail and hospitality, for example, that move to customized customer experiences has led quite quickly to interest in another major innovation concept: the cloud.
“By shifting to [a cloud service], we are empowering our teams with an intuitive and modern interface, and a holistic planning solution that provides store-level detail and allows us to make more-strategic merchandise decisions,” said Julie Fillion, senior director of planning with Groupe Dynamite and a speaker for the Retail program at Oracle Industry Connect.
“In hospitality, it's becoming clear that one of the key factors for success will be the ability to deliver personalized service to each guest,” added Laura Calin, vice president, strategy and solutions management for Oracle Hospitality. “And that requires the power to innovate quickly, which makes one of the biggest arguments for the cloud. The writing is on the wall.”
Within healthcare, that customer-focused writing on the wall seems to be getting very specific answers from customers in the form of very specific technology—namely wearable sensors and mHealth devices.
“For clinical trial patients, these advances allow for [fewer] site visits, make trial participation from home possible, and support effortless, ongoing vital-sign monitoring. Though there are still some implementation challenges to overcome, these advanced capabilities will lead to higher-quality trial data results and deeper patient insights,” noted Jonathan Palmer, senior director, product strategy, digital trials, Oracle Health Sciences.
Find what drives your innovation this April at Oracle Industry Connect. Here are a few of our most hotly anticipated sessions to highlight on your schedule.
Or search all the Oracle Industry Connect panels and sessions by your favorite innovation topic: cloud, AI, Blockchain, and more. Start that search here.