In this business era, companies and entrepreneurs suffer residual effect in the face of an ever-growing technology that is characterized by constant and disruptive innovations and products. Companies are consequently in a constant fight to stay afloat or go under the tide, a fight that includes multinational groups such as Google, Microsoft, IKEA, and Accenture. This development led to the emergence of corporate innovation hubs.
Today, many major corporations have adopted the innovation hub model in their establishments. Google and Microsoft were among the foremost to successfully launch innovation labs, a move that has enabled their business to increase customer value, and create more market opportunity despite competitions.
IKEA, Accenture and others are following the trend to ensure they also stay ahead of the curve. Launching innovation labs has allowed these companies to retain their best minds and to partner with or acquire relevant start-ups that share similar ideas for developing great products and improved service delivery.
Accenture is considering to establish 10 more innovation labs
Accenture launched its first lab in 2006 in Chicago and the company is currently nursing a future with plans to establish ten additional innovation labs across the US by 2020.
Bob Markham, a managing director at Accenture Digital said: "One of the things our clients suffer from a little bit is: they're part of large corporations with a lot of cultural inertia. They don't always get exposed to a lot of diversity of thought." Markham is heading the company’s first innovation lab, which currently has about 600 full-time employees and working with four startups.
Through these innovation labs, Accenture is determined to create innovations that will help their clients’ businesses enjoy continuous growth, develop viable products and maintain relevance while withstanding the rising disruptive innovations from competitions. And this has been proven with Marriott International. Accenture’s target is to collaborate with many bright minds and start-ups in technology that will serve its growing clientele. Through this partnership, the company can spend less on product design and research, and also develop more viable products in a lesser time frame.
IKEA aims to create a better everyday life
Since launching its innovation lab, IKEA has reinforced the mission and has strengthened commitment towards creating a better everyday life.
At its Copenhagen Space10 lab dubbed global future living lab, which manned by 25 full-time staff, IKEA has been able to assemble a team of project experts of diverse background and expertise on a temporary arrangement (per project), while collaborating with start-ups with similar interest. The scheme has delivered an augmented-reality app which customers’ use to access how furniture would look in their homes, IKEA Place, hydroponic farms and recently introduced delivery fleet with zero emission. IKEA now controls a collective pool of knowledge, skills, and expertise towards developing innovations that avert impending world disasters, with the eradication of food insecurity as one of their primary focus.
"We are basically set up to see how we can live up to IKEA's overall mission: to create a better everyday life in new ways," said Simon Caspersen, co-founder of Space10 who further highlighted the working condition at Space10. "You are put together with some other incredible people that don't necessarily share your background or expertise."
OrangeWorks is tapping into the technological prowess of college students
Home Depot’s lab [OrangWorks], established in 2015 at Georgia Tech University campus in Atlanta, is aimed at studying upcoming technologies that could improve its business operations or customer experience.
Through OrangeWork, Home Depot developed a virtual pallet stacker useful in moving heavy items around its warehouse. A technology described as a "3D Tetris for shipping containers that allows us to be as efficient as we possibly can" by senior manager Anthony Gregorio of the Innovation Center.
The innovation lab is manned fully by a few core team members: eight persons with varying tech skills. Other members are Georgia Tech students (about 60). According to Gregorio, OrangeWorks is currently working on how computer vision can be used for inventory tracking and to improve customer service, reports Business Insider.
Corporate innovation lab is run by intrapreneurs, a generic term for entrepreneurs, and various start-up founders that need a platform where they can explore their creativity and enjoy relative independence while working for big corporation towards a common goal. Thus, this venture is “not for everybody” said Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, a psychology professor at Columbia University. Aside from being suited for creative minds that can tender novel ideas, initiate projects and proffer solutions while adapting to an ever-changing technological environment, innovative labs require serious funding.
It offers a win-win for both major corporations and start-ups. Through this partnership, start-ups and tech entrepreneurs could leverage on the financial strength and expertise Major Corporation provide to further sell their ideas on a larger scale while being exposed to greater business opportunities. To a greater extent, the big companies suffer more losses, especially when projects fail.
Turner, Disney, Ogilvy, and Coca-Cola are among the companies listed by VentureBeat as a few that have shut down some of their innovation labs within the last decade due to fund.