- Michael Barry, Technical & Innovation Manager, BMT
Michael talks about how SharpCloud has changed his organisation's approach to Innovation.
The business problem
The key business problem we were looking to solve was our approach to Innovation, which had occurred organically between ourselves, rather than with any planning, or communication. This way of innovating worked well for a while because it was reasonably easy to get a few people together to identify a market need or client problem and between them, have all the relevant technologies and possibilities covered, to provide a solution. This model doesn’t work anymore for a couple of reasons.
Why did this problem exist?
- Technology is moving so fast and is so complicated, we can no longer expect a handful of heads to organically come up with something meaningful. We’re a big organisation who needed more open communication and collaboration. We didn’t want to miss any opportunities and needed to know that we could put the best heads together quickly, when there was a problem to solve. Innovation will only work if there is a high level of collaboration between staff, clients and colleagues.
- We needed to communicate better for the sole purpose of ensuring we had our client’s needs and any gaps in the market covered. We needed to be confident that we weren’t reinventing the wheel or wasting time and money.
We needed a business solution, and through my role of Technical and Innovation Manager, I developed a formal innovation strategy that we’re now rolling out across the group and with our clients and colleagues. To support the strategy, we needed a platform that we could use as a communication tool and repository for content and information.
Due to platform fatigue, it needed to be attractive to use; different (no more email or bulletin boards), intuitive, easily accessible, worthwhile using and require minimum training.
From a business point of view, it had to be a visually interactive platform that could capture relationships, who’s doing what, their location and link people to strategic business objectives.
Other tools I looked at were too complicated, expensive and non-visual.
How does SharpCloud solve the problem?
We use SharpCloud to support different parts of our innovation strategy, in separate instances. For example, SharpCloud acts as a visual database/repository for our day to day innovations, and is also designed to encourage communication. This is therefore acting as an ongoing accrual of our skills and everyday innovations.
SharpCloud also serves as the mechanism by which we implement our stage gate ideas innovation funnel. All submissions are made in SharpCloud which means that all ideas, funding decisions and outcomes are visible to all staff, no secret emailed word docs...it is entirely transparent.
The first innovation, being built in SharpCloud, to go through our stage gate ideas funnel, is the SharpCloud Showroom. This will be a public story and a reflection of our business, our markets, our capabilities, example high profile projects and key people etc., all in a highly visual and interactive database. This will be incredibly useful, particularly in client meetings, where you may need to access information quickly - it will be online, with all information in one place and clients will be able to continue to use it after the meeting.
A lot of the work we do is geographical. With the recent fantastic addition of Bing Maps in SharpCloud, we can now geo locate the work we have done. It will allow us to plot projects, people and assets in any location, giving a new perspective for clients. They will be able to open the relevant located item and download all the information contained there. It will be much easier for them with no email or other tools required.
We also use SharpCloud for client presentations (no more PowerPoint), business planning and business development.
What makes SharpCloud unique?"SharpCloud is visually appealing and tells a story by user-defined filtering, sorting and organising of data. Users can select what tags, filters and categories they see, within the views they want to look at. This level of user autonomy and interaction is one of SharpCloud’s greatest features and sets it apart from other tools."
Really cool features such as Map View, Table View and Hide Views have all made a huge difference to us. The ability to have a front/home page or a navigation table, so users can navigate through the story easily without having to know what the view icons on the side bar represent, has made the tool even easier for people to use. The continual promotion of user autonomy is fantastic.
Benefits & quantifiable results
SharpCloud has given us a very strong platform and the opportunity for our organisation and staff to communicate and collaborate better, and ultimately get more involved with innovation. Being seen as an organisation actively supporting innovation, has been met positively and we have vastly improved our position from organic innovators to offering a much more co-ordinated and advanced solution.
One of our recent initiatives wouldn’t have been as efficient without SharpCloud. We’re running a competition using SharpCloud, where staff across several of our operating companies are being invited to come up with ideas and make a bid to participate in an international 'think tank' early next year, where they can share and extend their ideas and match up markets with capabilities. Already we’ve had some great bids submitted across these operating companies, with the help of SharpCloud.
There are plenty of ideas out there, but turning ideas into innovations is where the magic happens. SharpCloud has helped us to save time and money and be more efficient in identifying achievable innovations, using this open channel of communication, collaboration and transparency."SharpCloud helps us to tell the story better. It gives us the edge and differentiates us from other players particularly when delivering data and animation through SharpCloud to clients. We always get positive feedback."
BMT is an organisation that is continuing to successfully deliver practical engineering and scientific solutions to many of the challenging problems being faced by government and industry today.