Feature Insights Dec 2023

Reflections on 2023 and thoughts for 2024

We don't have a crystal ball. We've gone one better - we asked our in-house experts for their thoughts...

Somehow, in the blink of an eye, it’s December 2023. The Innovia Technology team has been reflecting on all that we’ve achieved together this year, and started to think about what the year ahead could hold. As individuals, organisations and communities, we have decisions to make. How will we respond to the challenges which lie ahead?

Here at Innovia, we’ll be leaning on our foundations of holistic working – we’re doubling down on our commitment to put diverse teams together to solve the most complex of challenges. In doing this, we’ll continue to help our clients outperform their competitors and change the world for good, through breakthrough innovation.

We asked Innovation Consultants from across the business to share their thoughts on how individuals, organisations and communities can put their best foot forwards on the 1st January 2024.

We hope that you find their thoughts to be a productive mix of inspiration and challenge. Together, let’s make it happen.

It’s been a discombobulating year: inflation, war, pandemic after-shocks, boom and bust. In a world of uncertainty we must give our innovation processes the best chance of success. We cannot afford the slack of siloed thinking. We need to work holistically right from the start – finding synergies between behavioural science, design, engineering, technology and business strategy. Tackling the biggest uncertainties first. Culling ideas that can never fulfil their potential. Boldly backing those that can soar.

Alastair MacGregor – LinkedIn

Dr Alastair MacGregor

The theme of extreme uncertainty is likely to continue for the next 12 months. The sources of uncertainty will be a combination of geopolitical disruption, the continuing aftermath of the pandemic and the increasing rate of development of new technologies such as AI. Knowing where and how to move the needle will be more challenging than ever. To set themselves up for success, businesses will need to be flexible, open to experimenting with new ideas, and to work collaboratively and holistically to solve problems. Never has the need to understand, explore, decide been more pressing.

Helena Rubinstein – LinkedIn

Dr Helena Rubinstein
Strategic Advisor and Innovation Consultant

In times of change, companies are thinking about where they should innovate and how they can set themselves up for success. Many of our longstanding partners are committing to strengthening their innovation capabilities in order to rise to meet the challenges ahead. When starting these journeys we’re often asked as to what the most successful companies tend to share.

Innovation teams can increase their chances of success when they come together across different functions and teams in the business and reach agreement on:
1. Why change is needed to remain competitive in the future
2. What is pragmatically within the power of the organisation to do about making that change happen
3. How the organisation as a whole can support the journey that’s being undertaken.

Agreement makes it possible for future facing teams to understand changes in their customer base, what technology can enable, and how companies can evolve to make successful breakthrough innovation happen.

Shreyas Mukund – LinkedIn

Dr Shreyas Mukund
Director and Innovation Consultant

In recent months we’ve found that companies are needing to innovate for new or changing needs. They’re doing it in difficult economic environments, whilst also simultaneously rising to the challenge of making progress on sustainability. This is leading to ever more complex and constrained innovation challenges. Here’s two things that can help:

Setting very clear criteria that span company functions: what really must be true vs. what is a nice-to-have or a freedom? Continue to revisit and refine these criteria throughout an innovation endeavour as you understand what’s needed and explore what’s possible, to help you decide what’s best.

Taking inspiration from outside your sector: who else has already solved some or all of your problem? This requires abstraction and broad exploration for unexpected connections. How can you frame your challenge so that it’s not obvious which sector it originated from?

Alex Hellawell – LinkedIn

Dr Alex Hellawell
Director and Innovation Consultant

It’s easy to feel pessimistic about the state of the world right now. You only have to switch on the news to be inundated with reasons to feel hopeless. As the year draws to a close, I want to instead take a moment to reflect on some of the things that perhaps we can be cautiously optimistic about.

2023 has been a year of driving forwards. In the healthcare field, where much of my work is focused, innovation continues to thrive. Back in April, a study found that an artificial intelligence model could accurately identify cancer, potentially speeding up diagnosis of the disease and fast-tracking patients to treatment. Then in July, the FDA granted traditional approval of Lecanemab, offering hope to Alzheimers patients and their families. And in November, the first medical treatment to make use of CRISPR was approved in the UK, effectively offering a cure for adults with sickle cell disease.

As part of my role, I spend much of my time speaking to people in innovation and R&D roles at various organisations. Many of these organisations are going through significant internal change alongside a tumultuous external environment. And yet, the conversations I’m having aren’t all doom and gloom. The opposite, in fact. What I’m hearing from people is grit, determination, ambition, and hope. I continue to be in awe of people’s resilience and drive for change in the face of such a challenging global environment.

With that in mind, if I could give any advice for 2024, it would be this: keep on keeping on.

Lily Clarke – LinkedIn

Lily Clarke
Client Lead and Innovation Consultant

Experiences in recent years have shown us that breakthrough innovation can happen under the most challenging of circumstances. Here’s three things which we’ve seen move the needle to make it happen.

1. Making a conscious commitment to navigate uncertain times by pulling together. When organisations bring their marketing, R&D teams and business units together to solve a problem together breakthrough innovation happens more efficiently and effectively.

2. Going back to the basics of solving the core problems which people are facing, and really understanding what the foundations of the problem is. It’s much easier to stick a plaster on something than identify the root cause of a problem. This work can be disruptive and/or expensive, but being short-sighted and ignoring bigger issue is ultimately more costly in the long run.

3. Focusing on the right things. Limited budgets, resources and time means that prioritisation is really important. Take the time to understand where you’re going to get the biggest bang for your for buck and commit your resources to solve the biggest problems.

Daniel Ward – LinkedIn

Daniel Ward
Head of Design and Innovation Consultant

When companies first set bold 2030 sustainability targets, many of us felt that they were on the distant horizon. As we come into 2024, we have around 1,400 working days left.

And whilst industry is leaning in, we’re hearing time and time again that whilst consumers say they want a more sustainable product, they aren’t willing to pay for it. With everything going on in the world, and with many struggling to pay the bills, perhaps that’s no surprise.

But if that was entirely true, for-profit companies wouldn’t have made any progress on sustainability. And they have.

It’s not easy, and there’s no simple playbook. But here’s 5 ways to make sustainability pay:

1. Find the other immediate benefits of your more sustainable product and make them real.

2. Supply chain resilience – in a volatile world, a more sustainable product or raw material can often be more resilient in the medium-term.

3. Find the efficiencies – saving energy or water, or reducing waste, saves money too. Whilst many of these positive-ROI efficiencies might have been found already, with the prices of just about everything so volatile, there’s probably more to uncover.

4. Get ahead of future regulation – it’s coming. And in many cases, being ready to comply quickly will be a competitive advantage.

5. Start with the customers who will pay more. They may not be the majority, but they are out there, we can learn from them, and they may be a sign of the future.

None of this is easy. And meeting the world’s challenges will require so much more than spotting profitable and sustainable opportunities. But that’s our job as professional innovators, and it’s a critical part the process.

We look forward to seeing how we can change the world for good, together, in 2024.

Andy Milton – LinkedIn

Andy Milton
Head of Sustainability Services and Innovation Consultant

In 2024 Innovia Technology will be 25 years old. I don’t know if we’ve ever felt the need to change the world for good through breakthrough innovation quite so keenly as we do right now. We’re really clear on what we’re doing, and why we’re doing it.

We’re committed to challenging assumptions, to resolving uncertainty, to finding solutions to complicated problems, to inspiring others and to lighting the path to show the way forward. This isn’t lofty marketing oratory. People don’t buy what we do – they buy from Innovia Technology over and over again because they understand our ‘why’. There’s no ambiguity – we’re working to help our clients outperform their competitors and change the world for good through breakthrough innovation.

If you’re looking to start 2024 on a strong footing, why not invite your team to identify ambiguity and work together to get to clarity? Clarity brings teams together, it connects people and results in them pulling in the same direction. It can be uncomfortable to ask a question more than once, or paraphrase it to see how a response changes. But it’s worth it. Resolving that ambiguity can result in lightbulb moments that inspire breakthrough innovations.

Liz Weston – LinkedIn

Liz Weston
Head of Marketing and Innovation Consultant

So, that’s what comes to mind for our team when they think about the year ahead. Which of the thoughts challenges your thinking? Which one have you copied to send to a member of your team? What do you already have covered? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Please catch up with any of the team on LinkedIn or drop us an email at enquiries2024@innoviatech.com