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How to Keep Innovation a Top Priority at a Tech Company

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Eric Kasper


As the saying goes, the only thing constant is change, and that’s absolutely true at tech companies. Technology is always changing. And for tech companies, figuring out what those changes need to be and making them happen is paramount. It represents your best shot at thriving and growing and helping you keep innovation a top priority.

While getting the first version of a product to market is exhilarating, it’s not when the work ends. It’s merely when the real work begins, in determining how a product can improve and thinking about those next changes.

Innovation, important as it is to this growth and change, needs to be nurtured, cultivated, and encouraged in your employees. If your company is trying to make innovation more central to all you do, here are some tips for how to inspire innovation in your company.

1. Make time for free, innovative thinking.

It can be hard to be innovative just out of the blue. Having a specific time and place in which innovation is encouraged is a key to making it happen.

I recommend taking time out once a month to hold a session that is dedicated exclusively to idea generation. You don’t have to find a separate location to do something. However, it’s still best if it has a “retreat” sort of feel to it, as free-flowing and freeform as it possibly can.

Make sure that you have somebody getting all the ideas down. Having it on a whiteboard visible to everyone allows one idea to springboard to others.

And make sure that you have a facilitator that can keep the energy of the session going. Asking the right questions and the right follow-up questions is key.

2. Don’t shoot down new ideas immediately.

Your innovation idea sessions should be a brainstorming space. Nothing is off the table and nothing is too wild to consider.

Not everything you come up with can be implemented, of course. However, these sessions should be about all the things you can dream up rather than what might be the most rational and logical direction in which to make change.

Take vertical farms, for instance. Conceived in the 1970s, this trend toward indoor, controlled-environment agriculture became possible, as the New York Times reported, thanks to LED light prices dropping nearly 95 percent between 2008 and 2015. That one piece of the puzzle was enough to perhaps change the future of food — even though these farms will have additional challenges requiring more innovation.

Coming up with a new idea that might seem outlandish or unattainable can actually lead to ideas that are doable and inspired. If you see an idea that fits this description, you can let it simmer a bit. Talk through all the options that stem from that, and all the opportunities that might present.

Perhaps even have a follow-up meeting once everyone’s had a chance to sit with what you’ve come up with in that initial meeting. It might lead you to a different idea that becomes your next big thing and help you keep innovation a top priority.

3. Don’t be afraid of failure.

The fear of failure is very real and very present. It can lead some companies to make choices that are safe, predictable, and meet the expectation of their core customers.

However, they don’t allow those companies to spread their wings beyond that and inspire new people. When you’re risking failure, it’s often because you’re taking a chance and you’re trying something that’s new, pushing you into undiscovered terrain with an uncertain outcome.

But where failure can lie waiting is also where opportunity lies.

You can, of course, mitigate against the prospect of failure by doing your homework beforehand. You don’t have to go blindly into whatever risky territory you might think your innovation could take you.

And what initially might look like failure isn’t necessarily that — it could be, for example, that a product you envisioned to do one thing and isn’t being adopted for that purpose could have some other application that does, over time, prove to be a worthy innovation.

Take the iPad. It gathered functions and utilities for customers over the years. However, perhaps not the ones Apple envisioned would be truly resonant for customers at the outset. Consequently, they are now central to how people use them and how Apple’s adopted its marketing around them.

As a recent Forbes article revealed, one tech-savvy parent has revealed how its Focus mode is allowing what has the potential to be a distraction machine, full of games and videos, to steer his kid toward using it to complete homework assignments…without accessing the other temptations that lie within.

4. Bring in new eyes.

You might think that your ideas work within the bubble of your own company. However, part of the fear of failure comes with not knowing how that technology will work in the real world. So, why not bring the real world to you as you seek to keep innovation a top priority?

When you bring in new people — customers and potential customers not yet familiar with your products or the innovations you’re bringing to those products — you have the opportunity to discover things you wouldn’t otherwise know.

Have people come in to test your products. This can help you find opportunities for improvement. You can assess the functionality of your product, the UX and design features, or simply other uses for the product that you haven’t yet conceived.

As pointed out in a recent Readwrite article, the maxim about only getting one chance to make a first impression rings true. “When a person installs an app,” the article points out, “they will likely figure out if they wish to keep the app or uninstall it after the first use only. Therefore the app just has one chance of staying in the app list of the user.”

Most people use 10-30 apps on their phones. However, there’s obviously a lot of competition to stay on people’s phones.

Speed, the onboarding process, and the app’s responsiveness to gestures are all factors in whether an app stays on a customer’s phone. If you’re bringing a new app to market, those new users testing out your innovations can help you with those factors.

5. Get customer feedback on the regular.

However,  to keep innovation a top priority, the information gathering shouldn’t stop with the release of the product.

Your future innovations can be informed and inspired by how people are using what you’ve created. You can highlight what they’re learning and discovering about it.

Customer feedback will not only help you gauge how satisfied customers are with what you’ve created, but will help you determine what next innovations they’re hungering for — and that will turn the process into a meaningful dialogue in which you’re building a relationship with your customers over time.

Keep Your Eye on the Prize: Innovation

It’s easy to ease the innovation reigns and coast for a while at a tech company.

However, a tech company that isn’t focused on innovation will quickly fall behind in today’s fast-paced tech-focused world. Implement some of these ideas and your company will make a solid effort to be constantly innovating. It will be easier to stay competitive and keep innovation a top priority.

Eric Kasper

Eric Kasper is the CEO, and founder of Tradefull, a complete e-commerce solution helping retailers operate most efficiently. He is a serial entrepreneur and an authority on e-commerce technology and processes. He strives to help e-commerce companies of all sizes simplify their processes in order to help them ultimately reach their goals.

Politics

Fintech Kennek raises $12.5M seed round to digitize lending

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Google eyed for $2 billion Anthropic deal after major Amazon play


London-based fintech startup Kennek has raised $12.5 million in seed funding to expand its lending operating system.

According to an Oct. 10 tech.eu report, the round was led by HV Capital and included participation from Dutch Founders Fund, AlbionVC, FFVC, Plug & Play Ventures, and Syndicate One. Kennek offers software-as-a-service tools to help non-bank lenders streamline their operations using open banking, open finance, and payments.

The platform aims to automate time-consuming manual tasks and consolidate fragmented data to simplify lending. Xavier De Pauw, founder of Kennek said:

“Until kennek, lenders had to devote countless hours to menial operational tasks and deal with jumbled and hard-coded data – which makes every other part of lending a headache. As former lenders ourselves, we lived and breathed these frustrations, and built kennek to make them a thing of the past.”

The company said the latest funding round was oversubscribed and closed quickly despite the challenging fundraising environment. The new capital will be used to expand Kennek’s engineering team and strengthen its market position in the UK while exploring expansion into other European markets. Barbod Namini, Partner at lead investor HV Capital, commented on the investment:

“Kennek has developed an ambitious and genuinely unique proposition which we think can be the foundation of the entire alternative lending space. […] It is a complicated market and a solution that brings together all information and stakeholders onto a single platform is highly compelling for both lenders & the ecosystem as a whole.”

The fintech lending space has grown rapidly in recent years, but many lenders still rely on legacy systems and manual processes that limit efficiency and scalability. Kennek aims to leverage open banking and data integration to provide lenders with a more streamlined, automated lending experience.

The seed funding will allow the London-based startup to continue developing its platform and expanding its team to meet demand from non-bank lenders looking to digitize operations. Kennek’s focus on the UK and Europe also comes amid rising adoption of open banking and open finance in the regions.

Featured Image Credit: Photo from Kennek.io; Thank you!

Radek Zielinski

Radek Zielinski is an experienced technology and financial journalist with a passion for cybersecurity and futurology.

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Politics

Fortune 500’s race for generative AI breakthroughs

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Deanna Ritchie


As excitement around generative AI grows, Fortune 500 companies, including Goldman Sachs, are carefully examining the possible applications of this technology. A recent survey of U.S. executives indicated that 60% believe generative AI will substantially impact their businesses in the long term. However, they anticipate a one to two-year timeframe before implementing their initial solutions. This optimism stems from the potential of generative AI to revolutionize various aspects of businesses, from enhancing customer experiences to optimizing internal processes. In the short term, companies will likely focus on pilot projects and experimentation, gradually integrating generative AI into their operations as they witness its positive influence on efficiency and profitability.

Goldman Sachs’ Cautious Approach to Implementing Generative AI

In a recent interview, Goldman Sachs CIO Marco Argenti revealed that the firm has not yet implemented any generative AI use cases. Instead, the company focuses on experimentation and setting high standards before adopting the technology. Argenti recognized the desire for outcomes in areas like developer and operational efficiency but emphasized ensuring precision before putting experimental AI use cases into production.

According to Argenti, striking the right balance between driving innovation and maintaining accuracy is crucial for successfully integrating generative AI within the firm. Goldman Sachs intends to continue exploring this emerging technology’s potential benefits and applications while diligently assessing risks to ensure it meets the company’s stringent quality standards.

One possible application for Goldman Sachs is in software development, where the company has observed a 20-40% productivity increase during its trials. The goal is for 1,000 developers to utilize generative AI tools by year’s end. However, Argenti emphasized that a well-defined expectation of return on investment is necessary before fully integrating generative AI into production.

To achieve this, the company plans to implement a systematic and strategic approach to adopting generative AI, ensuring that it complements and enhances the skills of its developers. Additionally, Goldman Sachs intends to evaluate the long-term impact of generative AI on their software development processes and the overall quality of the applications being developed.

Goldman Sachs’ approach to AI implementation goes beyond merely executing models. The firm has created a platform encompassing technical, legal, and compliance assessments to filter out improper content and keep track of all interactions. This comprehensive system ensures seamless integration of artificial intelligence in operations while adhering to regulatory standards and maintaining client confidentiality. Moreover, the platform continuously improves and adapts its algorithms, allowing Goldman Sachs to stay at the forefront of technology and offer its clients the most efficient and secure services.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Google DeepMind; Pexels; Thank you!

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.

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Politics

UK seizes web3 opportunity simplifying crypto regulations

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Deanna Ritchie


As Web3 companies increasingly consider leaving the United States due to regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom must simplify its cryptocurrency regulations to attract these businesses. The conservative think tank Policy Exchange recently released a report detailing ten suggestions for improving Web3 regulation in the country. Among the recommendations are reducing liability for token holders in decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) and encouraging the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to adopt alternative Know Your Customer (KYC) methodologies, such as digital identities and blockchain analytics tools. These suggestions aim to position the UK as a hub for Web3 innovation and attract blockchain-based businesses looking for a more conducive regulatory environment.

Streamlining Cryptocurrency Regulations for Innovation

To make it easier for emerging Web3 companies to navigate existing legal frameworks and contribute to the UK’s digital economy growth, the government must streamline cryptocurrency regulations and adopt forward-looking approaches. By making the regulatory landscape clear and straightforward, the UK can create an environment that fosters innovation, growth, and competitiveness in the global fintech industry.

The Policy Exchange report also recommends not weakening self-hosted wallets or treating proof-of-stake (PoS) services as financial services. This approach aims to protect the fundamental principles of decentralization and user autonomy while strongly emphasizing security and regulatory compliance. By doing so, the UK can nurture an environment that encourages innovation and the continued growth of blockchain technology.

Despite recent strict measures by UK authorities, such as His Majesty’s Treasury and the FCA, toward the digital assets sector, the proposed changes in the Policy Exchange report strive to make the UK a more attractive location for Web3 enterprises. By adopting these suggestions, the UK can demonstrate its commitment to fostering innovation in the rapidly evolving blockchain and cryptocurrency industries while ensuring a robust and transparent regulatory environment.

The ongoing uncertainty surrounding cryptocurrency regulations in various countries has prompted Web3 companies to explore alternative jurisdictions with more precise legal frameworks. As the United States grapples with regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom can position itself as a hub for Web3 innovation by simplifying and streamlining its cryptocurrency regulations.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Jonathan Borba; Pexels; Thank you!

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.

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