December 2, 2020

Innovation needs to match business goals, Xerox exec says

Dive Brief

  • Generating executive buy-in is essential before deploying technology produced at corporate innovation hubs, according to Tolga Kurtoglu, SVP, head of global research and member of the executive committee at Xerox, speaking at the Virtual AI Summit Silicon Valley Wednesday
  • But before technology can be infused into the organization, leaders need to ensure it aligns with the strategic goals of the corporation, given innovation “could be disruptive to the nature of the core business,” Kurtoglu said.
  • Advancing innovation projects that don’t match the strategic goals of top leadership means “a lot of the value generation could get trapped in the lower levels of the organization without yielding the kinds of business outcomes” desired by companies that want to modernize, Kurtoglu said.

Dive Insight

Large organizations can find it challenging to keep up with the speed of technology as innovation outpaces adoption. 

At a time of financial uncertainty, businesses will focus on the initiatives that match their path to economic growth. Tech executives risk their clout by presenting innovations that clash with the broader organizational goals. 

A company’s innovation strategy should be paired with business thinking innovation, especially in rethinking business models, Kurtoglu said. Company culture must embrace the change that technology can present.

“A lot of times it’s a mindset shift,” Kurtoglu said. “You need to really champion an entrepreneurial, customer-first and experimental kind of culture that complements innovation activities.”

Xerox’s push to evolve past its reputation as a purveyor of printing and copying equipment is years in the making. Diversifying the business is an imperative for the company as the global remote work shift ensues. Analysts anticipate a percentage of printing service demand lost during the pandemic won’t be made up even if offices make a comeback.

But amid the contraction, opportunity lies in other services. Though the company’s Q2 2020 revenue fell 35.3% year-over-year, vice chairman and CEO Giovanni John Visentin said the company remains committed to “investing in new capabilities that allow us to capitalize on growing demands in technology,” such as security, remote IT support and collaboration tools. 

Xerox operates three innovation hubs where technologists research areas including printing, artificial intelligence, the internet of things and business process automation. Strategic implementation of technology, a companywide strategy, falls under the purview of Xerox’s CTO.

The company appointed former HP CIO Naresh Shanker as its SVP and CTO in April 2019. Shanker was tasked with overseeing research and development, as well as “an increasingly digital information technology operation.”

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