Why Intrapreneurship Is Key to Business Innovation

There are three trends sweeping through the enterprise that are making every executives’ head spin:

  1. The need to become an agile organization in order to respond to fast-moving competitors and the ever changing demands of our customers.
  2. The need to transform our applications and IT departments to respond to that change on a continuous basis.
  3. And the third trend: the employee tour of duty. Ben Casnocha recently discussed this at our February conference. Employees are increasingly looking for short 3-5 year engagements so they can make a significant contribution, and then move on to the next challenge.

These trends are being forced on us by circumstances beyond our control, yet most of us came of age during the late 90s and early 2000s – and our corporate cultures haven’t changed that much, barring a few notable exceptions.

And we’re seeing ever more casualties along the way. Note the demise of Blockbuster and Borders Books, and many other corporate near-death experiences.

The challenge for companies is: how do we become more agile, more innovative and a more attractive place for the ambitious, restless and brilliant employees we need to successfully navigate these choppy waters? How do we make business innovation part of our corporate DNA?

The Corporate Intrapreneur Program

I believe that one of the keys to this is the corporate intrapreneursip program. The out-of-the-box thinking needed to transform our companies, our technology footprint, and our employee recruitment and retention programs can only come from fostering an entrepreneurial mindset within our own people.

The corporate intrapreneurship program gives your internal employees, whether they’re millennials or baby boomers, the permission to become truly creative entrepreneurs - but with one caveat: they must use that creativity to find solutions to problems your company is trying to solve for yourself and your customers.

But do programs like these actually work? Let me share what we’ve created at Softtek so you can see for yourself.

Softtek Innoventures: Solving Our Own – and our Customers’ Innovation Challenges

The problems we’re seeing many of our customers facing are challenges we’ve been facing ourselves. How do we turn a traditional IT services company into an agile, innovative, entrepreneurial technology consulting company?

We realized we had to drink our own champagne, and walk our own walk. If we were trying to tell our customers to become more innovative, we had to become more innovative. And that’s why we decided to launch Innoventures, our own corporate intrapreneurship program.

I’m proud to say we’re in our second year, and we’ve already launched several successful initiatives brought about by our wonderful intrapreneurs.

Would you like to meet them? I’ll be happy to introduce some of the submissions and their creators from the top 18 ideas:

  1. Short Services. Responding directly to the enterprise’s need to digitally transform itself with error-free, fail-safe applications in record time, Softtek employee Gabriela Lopez Reyes conceived of Short Services. The solution hopes to bypass the challenges related to the high cost of labor and talent while delivering these services in short bursts. Designed as a platform, sort of like an Odesk or Elance for short engagements with highly skilled, highly vetted technical talent, Short Services will compete with these platforms on the high end of the market.
  2. Virtual Adaptable Training Solutions (VATS). Taking advantage of virtual reality technology, Carlos David Martinez Calva created VATS, an innovative training platform that allows you to use your smartphone, tablet, laptop or PC to convert your training materials into virtual reality experiences, and then delivers that training as a virtual reality experience. Companies can now save on travel, equipment, trainer salaries and more, while delivering a really cool experience.
  3. Novelizer. Recognizing that the boom in content marketing has flooded the digital marketplace with tons of written content, Miguel Arturo Palomares’ Novelizer application will give content creators and marketers an edge by transforming their written content into multimedia experiences. It will also provide a content marketplace to help connect musicians, graphic designers and writers using a common platform.
  4. OBApp. Julio Santos created OBApp, an employee onboarding application, to provide a modernized application available for mobile, tablets and the cloud. From a single location managers can launch an automated onboarding process for new hires that tracks where they are in the process and how they’re progressing, and provides tools to optimize the process in real-time.
  5. SAM. Conceived by Julieta Aidé Valverde as an Outsourcing 2.0 application (very appropriate – after all, she is employed by Latin America’s largest outsourcer!), SAM hopes to provide a human cloud that incorporates project management & task segmentation; real-time work; and social governance to transform the entire outsourcing process.

These are just five out of a total of our top 18 submissions this year! As you can see from this brief example, the solutions are very creative – yet very grounded in the particular needs of our business and our clients’ business.

Many of these might end up in the scrap heap, but some of them will turn into real service offerings that will bring measurable value to our customers.

Conclusion

Are you having a hard time incorporating a culture of innovation into your organizaiton to meet the three-pronged challenges of today’s marketplace? A good place to start would be to do as we did with Innoventures – start your own corporate intrapreneurship program.

And if this task seems a little overwhelming, stay tuned – we might just roll this out as a service to you, our customer!