When it comes to innovation, we can learn a lot from the book and movie Moneyball. Making small incremental innovations is very similar to the baseball concept of getting runners on base rather than always swinging for the fences.
When thinking about innovation, I like to use a great movie called Moneyball as an example of how small wins can lead to big disruption. Moneyball details the Oakland A’s baseball management revolution. Their manager at the time, Billy Bean, was the first MLB manager to allow Saber Metrics to heavily influence the management of his team.
Bean allowed formulas and stats to guide his team management decisions, helping his low-budget team make wise investments. This statistical system (Saber Metrics) allowed Bean to find undervalued players, making for smaller investments, but yielding big budget results (wins).
It’s not difficult to use this methodology to draw parallels to business. Incremental innovation is a series of smaller investments that ultimately yield larger results rather than a single big investment.
Internal versus External Innovations
To further make my point, I would like to define what I see as two major categories of understanding the Internet of Things and effective tech innovations – internal vs. external.
External solutions are business-to-business solutions that require a deeper understanding of data ownership, data management, data security, system complexity, and system integrations.
Internal solutions are less complicated, so it’s a great place to start.
Once you have mastered the internal innovation process—deploying a few innovations inside your front office or warehouse—then you can begin to plan for your first external innovation or B2B system. During this process you will need to carefully consider three main issues with B2B digital systems.
- Data Concerns like data security, data ownership, and long-term data maintenance.
- System Concerns like system uptime and remote maintenance. This is especially complicated if your B2B system has a hardware component deployed in the field.
- System Integration. Eventually every user in a B2B system wants to integrate the data from the B2B system into their own business. Business level system integrations are complicated, messy, and labor intensive. How will your system accommodate system integrations, or better yet, will your B2B innovation require system integration to be ROI positive? (If so, you may want to rethink your strategy).
How to Get Started with Moneyball-Inspired Incremental Innovation
There are three keys to getting this process started in your own business.
- Complete a self-awareness company assessment. Do you have the necessary pieces in place to accomplish your innovation goals? Be self-aware and assess your particular company’s readiness to deploy and take advantage of what IoT and technology has to offer.
- Start planning your first INTERNAL innovation. Think small. Look for the largest stack of paper in your front office or tackle paper travelers in your warehouse—maybe a WIP or RFID receiving process?
- DO YOU HAVE A GUY FOR THIS? You won’t find a guy or if you find “The Guy” you won’t be able to attract that level of talent. But you could put a team of guys together that care about making your company better and give them a budget—not a budget of MONEY, but a budget of TIME. Time is required to learn, test, and grow these innovations.
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