Executive Vice-President, Business Financial Services, RBC
What is your definition of “innovation”?
Innovation is the iterative journey of solving pain points and looking for ways to make good things even better by relentlessly challenging the status quo, asking and understanding the “why” before we ask “how”, and putting the client or end-user at the heart of it all. Innovative changes can be incremental to an existing idea or they can be a revolutionary ‘first’. Regardless of the scale, any truly innovative change has the potential to transform the way we live, work and interact, whether it’s in the small, everyday moments or in more profound and widespread ways.
Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies?
The advancement of technology is fuelling an unprecedented level of change, both in customer expectations, behaviours and the way we work and deliver in the marketplace. The speed and magnitude of that change will only continue to accelerate, and investments in innovation, talent and emerging technologies are now table stakes for companies that want to stay competitive and relevant to customers. Given this, it’s important to balance the common instinct to view emerging technologies as risky disruptors and play devil’s advocate by approaching it with some curious optimism as well. Modern technologies can be powerful enablers to help companies unlock greater efficiencies and innovations, and create more value for their customers. Are there risks to emerging technologies? Absolutely, and that risk threshold will be different for every business. But rather than taking a “wait and see” approach to adoption, businesses should assess the risks, weigh it against the ultimate benefits to their clients and employees, be agile in piloting solutions before a widespread implementation and have thoughtful contingency plans. By waiting too long and trying to avoid the risks of technology and innovation altogether, you face a bigger risk of being left behind by your customers and competitors.
What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation?
Before diving into the investment, make sure you truly understand the “why”. What’s the pain point you’re trying to solve and why? What impact will it have on your customers and employees in the short and long term? Do these changes align with your company’s ultimate purpose and vision? Successfully implementing technological changes or innovative programs also requires a shift in mindset, culture and way of working. That needs to be led from the top and embraced throughout the organization. To maximize adoption, bring your employees and clients along the journey by creating an open feedback loop throughout the implementation process. It takes diverse ideas and perspectives to come up with great solutions. Encourage people to share what’s working well, their concerns and candid feedback so that you can continue to adapt the implementation process and ensure that it works for the employees and customers who will become the ultimate end-users and beneficiaries. Finally, you don’t have to do it alone. Explore opportunities to partner with organizations that have the expertise, scale and capabilities to collaborate on innovative opportunities, seek advice and share best practices.