Bhoo wears the thinking cap!

As if that is possible!

What Does It Take to Get IT Outsourcers to Innovate?

Posted by bhoo on October 23, 2007

Excellent article in CIO.com about how IT Outsourcers can be innovative.

I loved some of the practical comments that explained why it is not as easy to do it as a service provider, and also how more can be got from an outsourcing relationship.

My thought:

Very interesting! We are a service provider – and we work with ISVs – the software vendors – whose entire existence is dependent on their innovation.

At one point in time, we even considered if we can christen our tag-line as “Outnovate” meaning Outsourcing Innovation.

Not because we could innovate completely for our customers. But because creating success through innovation does not stop with idea – but success comes because of execution of an innovative idea. Since we help “execute” innovative ideas – which is all we do due to our work with innovative software firms – we thought we can call ourselves as a company that you can outsource innovation with!

But, at a very fundamental level – outsourcing is about handing over non-core activities to experts in those non-core activities. How can “innovation” be outsourced? Is that a non-core activity of yours?

Can the outsourcing company be made to go beyond what the customers are specifying? Yes. Only by involving the people in your decision process, and by setting the expectation and reiterating the expectation.

As service providers – do we want to promise that to our customers. We sure do. Do we have people who can contribute improvements beyond what is being specified? We sure do! But, does that happen automatically? No. Like in any people process, stakeholder commitment and follow-through is needed for harnessing the potential of any initiatives beyond the call of duty.

So, my 2 cents to CIOs and CTOs:

— Ask questions triggering innovative answers / solutions. Keep asking with all people involved including your internal people and outsourcer’s people.

— Show that you are willing to listen to the comments / suggestions and if you do not, take the pain of explaining why you do not want to take it. Nobody wants to advise / recommend to deaf ears.

— Make sure that you respect the people involved as people with ideas that can improve your business.

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