Tips for creative or innovative thinking at work

This isn’t the ideal environment for creative or innovative thinking. Photo: Michael Loke on Flickr 

During some recent presentations on innovation and technology trends, I’ve been asked for day to day advice, techniques and tips for creative or innovative thinking at work.

In summary, creativity or freshness comes from breaking habits, which are often unconscious behaviours – those things we do without even thinking about it. So here are 10 ideas for breaking habits to foster more creative or innovative thinking at work:

1. Meet customer facing staff, e.g. sales, front line support. Carefully listen to their anecdotes. If you don’t usually speak directly to customers, you’ll probably find the stories revealing. I’ve seen CIOs’ jaws drop when listening to customer service staff.

2. Read different publications. Whether it’s news websites, social platforms, newspapers, even the trade press of a different skill (e.g. legal press if you work in IT). You’re seeking different opinions to your usual ones. Continue reading Tips for creative or innovative thinking at work

Digital best practice: Release regularly

One of the best practice digital principles we talk about at Endava is regular rollouts to users. The more regular and automated you can make them, the quicker you can provide additional functionality to your users.

Amazon

Amazon’s release to live every 11.6 seconds. This was the mean average for weekdays during May 2011. During that month, they had up to 1,079 production deployments per hour. Continue reading Digital best practice: Release regularly

Our visit to London’s latest innovation area: Plexal

“The Totem Pole” (real name) by the entrance to Plexal – impressive in reality

This morning I went on a tour of Plexal with a few colleagues from Endava. Plexal is an innovation area based in part of the former Media Centre originally built for the London 2012 Olympics.

The CEO of Plexal, Claire Cockerton, took us around. Claire founded Innovate Finance after working at Level39, the Fintech accelerator.

Plexal has been designed around the metaphor of an ‘Innovation High Street’. You walk into Plexal half way down the ‘High Street’. The reception desk transforms into a bar in the evening. The High Street has several glass fronted offices on the ground floor, intermittently separated by open desk areas acting as communal areas. Offices range from large (a couple of dozen desks) down to one-person pods the size of old public telephone boxes.

Communal areas also serve as fixed, large desks for organisations wishing to rent a permanent desk and leave a few monitors in place. There are coffee machines and kitchens dotted around, essential for start-ups. The whole place is designed and finished immaculately (the offices which are not still under construction). Once finished, Plexal will cater for 800 people. At the moment it’s just over half full. Continue reading Our visit to London’s latest innovation area: Plexal

How to improve all your business metrics through digital best practices

This article is a summary of the keynote presentation I gave at the Nimbus 90 Ignite event in London on Monday.

Modern businesses need to become more engaging, responsive and efficient. To achieve this, they need to focus on stronger digital deliverables, agile processes and automate much more than they do today.

Many businesses still struggle to define what digital really means, so we have come up with 12 “best practices” which include:

  1. Business Focussed Solutions (not technical)
  2. Self-service (for everyone)
  3. Try stuff (Fail fast/ learn quickly)
  4. (Very) regular releases
  5. Easy to use and regular multi variate testing
  6. Value dashboards
  7. Easier integration (e.g. APIs)
  8. Multi-device
  9. New business models (e.g. marketplace, sharing economy…)
  10. Culture of Innovation
  11. Bots/ automation
  12. Two way conversations

When we start a workshop with a customer, we focus on each of these digital best practices. We then challenge existing processes or applications. For example, we might ask the sales team how customers can self-service themselves, or how many customers are frustrated that they can’t use a specific app on a mobile or tablet device. Continue reading How to improve all your business metrics through digital best practices

The safe view of autonomous cars

A former GM car factory in Detroit
Credit: Thomas Hawk on Flickr

There are three key factors which affect car insurance – accidents (claims), theft, and the policy holder.

Here’s a thought about autonomous cars and accidents: “A total of 25,160 people were killed or seriously injured in the year ending September 2016, up by 6 per cent from the previous year, and 182,560 casualties of all severities.” Of that 25,160, around 5% are caused by drink-driving. The current estimate is that 1,380 people were killed or seriously injured when at least one driver was over the limit.

Whilst these figures only overlap by a few months (the drink driving numbers are for the year 2015), let’s combine them as there’s nothing to suggest there was any statistical anomalies around that time.

According to the Institute of Advanced Motorists, “in 2014 driver/rider error or reaction were cited as contributory factors in 74% of accidents”. I doubt driver or rider skills changed much between 2014 and 2016, so some simple maths shows that around 18,618 people were killed or seriously injured by a car driver or rider who was at fault for the accident. Continue reading The safe view of autonomous cars

When did it get so complicated?

This should be the logo for the new LinkedIn

In January LinkedIn released its new user interface. It’s now four months later and the user interface is still as shocking as its January release. Some of the best, unique, features of LinkedIn such as ‘who connects me to this person’ are hidden from view.

Do you want to refuse to link to someone because you don’t know them? The “I don’t know this person” notification appears out of immediate eye focus, so a. it’s hard to see and b. you need to either move the mouse (or your finger on the mobile version).

And the speed of the site is appallingly slow, with that irritating loading icon on every screen. LinkedIn owner’s, Microsoft, might as well show a rotating hourglass for nostalgia. Continue reading When did it get so complicated?

2017 digital predictions

This is now the seventh year of my digital predictions for the forthcoming twelve months (see here for 2016).

Supermarket checkouts - RIP in 2017 from Amazon Go?
Supermarket checkouts – RIP in 2017 from Amazon Go?

There are industry commentators and research analysts who release their predictions for the coming year. But I’m the only one brave enough to mark their homework at the end of the year! Last year I scored a respectable 61%.

Although President Trump and Brexit-at-some-point won’t have a direct impact on technology, there will be an indirect impact on consumer prices and investments into startups. Whether this affects the technology market in 2017 or later is difficult to say. Continue reading 2017 digital predictions

My Favourite Gadget, Book and App in 2016

Every year I list my favourite gadget, book and app from the last twelve months, so here they are for 2016:

Favourite gadget

A smartwatch. I never expected them to be this useful.

During the summer I ran my first marathon and bought a running watch to track my runs. The watch, a Garmin Forerunner 235, has a number of smartwatch features, including alerts that show on my phone, such as text messages, calls, Facebook alerts and so on, also show on my watch.

The watch also has a step and sleep counter, which I’d never as useful beforehand, but the step counter is moderately addictive. I can tell how well I sleep – I don’t need a watch to tell me.

Although the user interface on the watch is terribly over complicated, I still love the watch. Friends who have an Apple Watch still need to charge them daily, and the Forerunner can last at least a week.

Favourite book

The book that stopped me tweeting before boarding flights

I haven’t read as many books this year, but my favourite was ‘So you’ve been publicly shamed’ by Jon Ronson. I like Ronson’s style of writing, and I’m constantly worried (and telling the kids) of the dangers of a simple social media update upsetting others.

If you are interested in social networks, I thoroughly recommend the book. Since reading the book I try not to tweet when I’m boarding a plane, just in case autocorrect strikes.

Favourite app

I have a few friends who have started producing podcasts, and they use Podbean. I’ve been using the Podbean app for a while, but I still don’t find it very intuitive. It could be much simpler.

My favourite app for 2016 was Google Maps. Google have released a number of new, really good features. As a family we travel all over the UK. Google Maps has excellent voice recognition and smart route navigation, taking real-time traffic into account. But the 2016 killer feature is being able to search for something en-route, such as a petrol station or a specific restaurant. This is also voice controlled, and results are shown along the route.

 

This leaves me to wish everyone who reads this site, and your family, a wonderful holiday period, together with a healthy, happy and prosperous new year.

Five trends from The Future of General Insurance event

Describing key insurance trends at The Future of General Insurance event
Describing key insurance trends at The Future of General Insurance event

This week I spoke at The Future of General Insurance event about our latest Insurance Industry Technology Trends report at Endava. Here’s a brief summary of the presentation.

Endava works in many industries, and we can see what companies outside of insurance do really well, that insurers can learn from. We have found 20 ‘trends’, of which we covered five most relevant ones to general insurers at the conference:

  • IoT (Internet of Things) are slowly redefining how consumers perceive ‘insurance’
  • Moving to mobile first interfaces
  • Using social media
  • The use of digital marketing in the insurance industry
  • Building self-service into systems

Continue reading Five trends from The Future of General Insurance event