An Exclusive interview with Alex Osterwalder: Understanding Corporate Innovation | Techsauce

An Exclusive interview with Alex Osterwalder: Understanding Corporate Innovation

Techsauce recently interviewed Alex Osterwalder, a serial entrepreneur, speaker, business model and corporate innovator. He is the co-founder of Strategyzer, a consulting company that helps organizations develop new growth engines, better value propositions, and powerful business models.

In the coming weeks, Alex will be in Bangkok, at the INNO meetup, discussing all things business.

Read on for a more in-depth look at what Alex has created in terms of business and his personal advice on corporate innovation.

1. Can you give us a bit of background into your own business entrepreneurial journey and what led you to open Strategyzer..?

I firstly gained Ph.D. in business and business models which helped to define my career path. I think the turning point when I really thought of myself as an entrepreneur was when my self and Yves (Yves Pigneur, the co-author) wrote a business model book which we self-published at the same time. We produced it and sold it through e-commerce around the world. This was a complete success which gave me the confidence to build and open Strategyzer.

2. What advice do you have for businesses in Thailand and can you explain what you mean by corporate innovation? Is it specifically centered around creativity or profitability and how can it be implemented into established businesses?

Innovation as a word means nothing. there are different types of innovation. Efficiency innovation and improving existing business models is one type. An example of this is improving customer satisfaction with an iPad application for example.

Sustaining innovation is a different form. It is about creating something new and creating a new product and allows you to stay competitive. It helps you to progress by replacing the old with the new. it isn’t a radical change which changes your brand completely, it just enhances it. For example – Mercedez Benz creating a new car model like an electric car. It’s still in the same industry but is classed as sustainable innovation.

Thirdly there is growth innovation. This is something radically new for your business and brand. An example of this would be Amazon as an e-commerce site launching amazon web services (AWSO). This is a completely new area, new segment, and new clients. This keeps the core business but expands into new markets.

All three types of innovation are crucial for businesses to succeed and expand. Very few companies do growth innovation as it requires a lot of thinking outside of the box and looking down different paths.

My tip/advice for companies in Thailand and around the world is that there is a reason why people fail at growth innovation and that is that they fear failure. To try out new things it requires controlled failure without wasting a lot of money. It requires a lot of failures and a lot of experimentation. Companies are not keen on this sort of experimentation and failure; however, we should start to encourage it as it is part of the innovation process.

We want people who are innovators and entrepreneurs who can help companies around the world to take the road less traveled and create a space where it is ok to fail.

3. Can you give us some insight into why Corporate innovation fails? What is the biggest challenge that they face and what is the most common failure of those companies?

I don’t know any corporate company in the world that doesn’t have an incubator or an accelerator that doesn’t have a lot of creative people at its heart. This all exists and is in place to build, progress and sustain corporate innovation, however, the question remains who cant companies still innovate? Much of the innovation I see in companies I class as ‘innovation theatre’ It’s for the show, it’s for the gallery. We need someone who is as powerful as the CEO to give innovation power, space and where we can experiment with things that we haven’t done before. We do it in so many other industries but not in business. We need to allow this to be fully integrated into the otherwise rigid structure of a business.

We need to be able to experiment with new business models and products. An example is the invention of the Nintendo Wii. This was a risky move as it targetted a new set of gamers with a casual invention. Innovation doesn’t just mean technology but it can. We need to create space for newly valued customers in different sectors based on the technologies we already have. This space doesn’t exist in most companies which we need to allow.

4. Can you give us some insight into what your upcoming event will entail here in Bangkok?

The main focus will be on customer centricity. How can I create value for my customers? That’s the first thing. How can I compete on better business models and beat my competition and create better business models? Its hard to stay ahead on products alone, we need to compete on business models too. We need to put structures in place to develop customer centricity, business models and how do we make that possible for all companies.

Techsauce will be bringing you more exclusive insights into Alex Osterwalder’s business ventures, ideas, and programs that will ensure corporate progression at the SCG INNO Meetup in Bangkok. 21/06/2018. 

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