How the Accenture Luminaries program helped a toy maker discover breakthrough ideas

Sanjay Sarma, Vice President of Open Learning at MIT and Co-Founder of the Auto-ID Center at MIT

There was a level of expectation in the room at the Accenture Innovation Hub in Boston when the CIO and senior management of a major toy maker, along with his Accenture team, gathered for a workshop to explore how to think about new technologies and how their IT function can support the growth of the company.

The stakes were high. The impact of technology on the toy industry affected every aspect of their business, from customer interaction and sales channels to processes and, most importantly, the product. Children and their parents evolved their assumptions about what a toy could and should do. The group was there to discover and experiment with new technologies, and to research potential big ideas for their business.

In this buzz walked Accenture Luminary Sanjay Sarma. To some in the room, it was like he was a celebrity – famous for his early work on RFID and automatic identification, Sarma had become an Internet of Things expert and recently broadened his thinking on the how IoT brings new vocabulary. to reinvent companies, by changing the mindset of products to take ownership of the paths in people’s lives. MIT’s professor of radical innovation captured this concept in his latest book, The Reversal Factor: How to Thrive in the IoT Economy.

Sarma is one of eight luminaries from Accenture, world-renowned academic thought leaders widely recognized for their groundbreaking research in critical areas of technology-driven innovation. As an Accenture luminaire, he brings new dynamics to conversations and innovation sessions to help companies think about what’s possible in their industry, unlock breakthrough ideas, and encourage a whole new way of thinking.

That’s exactly what Sarma accomplished that day in Boston. By the end of the workshop, Sarma had inspired a whole new approach to the toy maker profession. He had spoken of seeing new technologies as inventing a new design language with nouns and verbs that can help rethink what is taken for granted.

He asked leaders to see themselves as not being a product company but rather as owning an element of their customers’ needs. For example, he said, Amazon strives to own “reads”, not to sell books. He challenged the audience to apply this concept to themselves: “What element of your clients’ lives do you want to own? “

This question spread around the room, forcing participants to shift their perspective to think about what their business could focus on if they owned the “game”. By expanding their world from building toys to making games, the barriers that define a toy business are removed, opening the way for new ideas and broader innovation. Sarma brought this to life by sharing several examples showing that changing the language of a company opens up opportunities for innovation.

Afterward, Sarma said, “It’s fascinating to work with companies that realize that change is upon them and that they have to marry technology with business and people and recreate themselves in a certain way. to meet these new extraordinary challenges. For me, it’s this conversation that is the most exciting, the conversation that includes technology, people and business to do it all again.

By the end of the day, the assembled leaders walked away with not only a broader definition of their business, but also several important actions to start exploiting this new approach. This involves evaluating a more immersive shopping experience for parents and children in the physical store environment, projecting what the game would mean in a fully digital shopping experience, and creating a specific team to continue to build. advance thinking and generate results through additional innovation sessions.

The Accenture Luminaries program was created to bring together Accenture account teams and technology experts, esteemed academic thought leaders and senior decision makers from client organizations, in an environment tailored to launch the kind of innovation that could disrupt the established order of highly competitive industries. Accenture Luminaires combine to provide expertise in the areas of design thinking, software design, security by design, robotics, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, machine learning, the future of the workforce, IoT, automation, automatic identification / RFID, digital. learning, games, healthcare, extended reality, design, marketing, emerging technologies, leadership strategy, mobile systems and sports technologies.

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