Deloitte believes in celebrating entrepreneurship in the UK technology community through our Fast 50 programme where towards the end of last year we announced the UK’s fastest growing technology companies, alongside the CEO report. Both of these publications highlight the vital achievements and unique insights of the people who drove them to their current position.
Looking at this list of 50 companies, the question arises: What lessons are there to be learned from their success?
Reading through the reports, one common theme jumps out at me. Almost all of these companies had significantly disrupted their respective markets, causing competitors to reshape their existing strategies and positions. Rather than creating new industries with their products and services, they brought innovation to markets and industries that were already mature. The 2015 Fast 50 winner is a company called WorldRemit, whose founder grew despondent with the slow, manual and expensive process by which money was transferred across the globe. To solve this problem, he built a company that digitises the process whilst ensuring its compliance with the ever growing regulation. This is not a new market per se, rather a spin on an existing cumbersome one.
The notion that innovation infers not necessarily reinventing the wheel, rather looking at an existing problem from a different angle using technology, is a key driver in the success of the Fast50 companies. According to this understanding of innovation, Deloitte is in prime position to apply these insights and to disrupt the industries it currently plays a part in.
Deloitte undoubtedly has been particularly deliberate in its approach to weaving innovation into its work and culture. An ambitious vision of increasing the revenue coming from innovative services by 2020 has been set. In conjunction with this are a clear set of milestones to reach along the way, culminating in the ultimate goal of providing more innovative solutions to help solve our client’s biggest challenges. Exploring the firm’s efforts, much of the infrastructure has been put in place promoting this form of innovation (E.g. Deloitte Consulting Incubator and Innovation Investment Ventures).
There is however a potential barrier to achieving this goal. Formally, many mechanisms are in place to allow Deloitte staff to experiment with innovation – however how does one do so on an individual level? Culturally, this is somewhat alien in the sense that a Professional Services Firm and a trusted advisor is by its very nature risk averse.
In order to achieve a state of innovation ingrained in a culture, one must not submit to the discourse of becoming entrepreneurs in the traditional sense. The Fast50 shows that innovation is more nuanced than that. An opportunity presents itself to see where others have treaded before, learn from their experiences and pivot ones approach accordingly. By investing in the ideas of others, rethinking industries Deloitte has a presence in and leveraging those existing client relationships, one can find the freedom to think both methodically and creatively about how we solve the complex problems faced in today’s age. All the potential yield whilst mitigating the risk. The objective is not to think of oneself exclusively as a risk taking entrepreneur, rather as an intrapreneur.
What WorldRemit and co demonstrate is that initiating innovation within the wider Deloitte community allows us as intrapreneurs to have the opportunity to freely experiment with those ideas we always thought about but brushed aside for fears relating to practicality. Let us not lay this opportunity to waste. Because that is innovation at its most impactful.
Disclaimer: WiThink is written from a personal perspective. All views and opinions are those of the author.