How to Restart Innovation

Reinvest in R&D

Brent Hoag, VP and CIO, Diversey

We've created an IT innovation team of four people, separate from the operations group, whose sole mission is innovation. They work closely with our IT customer managers, who are integrated with the rest of the company and are therefore able to tell the innovation team what the business lines need while new policies and strategies are still in the development phase. This early linkage allows us to focus on developing solutions that will meet those needs, such as a way to monitor our industrial cleaning products, which saves our commercial customers more money on water than they spend on the product. We aim to have the solutions ready for use at least 18 months before anyone asks for them. Leaders throughout the company are already getting used to the idea of asking what's new that will help them do their jobs or meet their goals.

The business lines pay for our IT services as they need them, so there needs to be a funding source for this kind of pre-demand development. By delivering value over time, we have earned the trust of the company, which has allowed us the freedom to make a significant change: As IT creates solutions or services that allow for lower spending on IT, that savings goes into a fund for the IT innovation team to drive top-line growth. The foundation of innovation, to me, is IT being asked by the rest of the company to drive innovation and growth, not just to support others' efforts.

Refocus the Team

Allison Radecki, Senior VP and CIO, GS1 US