Innovations like the Metaverse are mostly discussed and tested far away from B2B users. But even companies in this field can gain experience with technology at an early stage without large investments if they pay attention to a few factors. The specialist departments play a special role in this.
As a company, have you often asked yourself when is the right time to jump on a hype? Have you ever been annoyed that you once again belonged to the “late adopters” and then had to follow suit abruptly, unplanned, and at too high a cost? Then you are like most of your competitors. But what if you could use such hypes without large investments, build up a wealth of experience in dealing with a certain technology to be prepared for the moment when a hype becomes a serious use case. For example, there are currently many indications that the “Metaverse” will be the next virtual pig to be driven through various digital villages in the coming years. But beyond that, there is already justified reason to assume that the Metaverse will not go away after this hype phase, but could also be of sustainable benefit to humans.
Because apart from Facebook’s media-effective rebranding, the technologies and basic principles are already available on the market today and are no longer in the hands of a single platform provider: Apple recently announced the launch of its own mixed reality VR headset. The takeover of the VR headset manufacturer Pico Interactive by ByteDance, the creator of TikTok, also announces that the Metaverse is a serious future scenario.
And even if there is still a lot of talk about B2C at the moment, a certain relevance of this topic in the context of B2B topics is mapped out. Dealing with the topics of VR and Metaverse at an early stage is worthwhile. But how do you manage to bring this knowledge into a company without tying up too many resources?
Success Factor Innovation Management
When managing innovations, companies like to set up so-called “Centers of Excellence” or similar good-sounding institutions such as “Innovation Labs,” “Digilabs,” innovation hubs, etc. All these approaches are united by the fact that they have structures that have grown over decades in the group and the inevitably created “silo thinking” with new processes want and have to overcome to successfully implement technologies such as RPA and automation, AI, and machine learning or even the Metaverse and virtual reality.
But one thing is also certain: innovation can only be prescribed in the rarest of cases. It arises from curiosity, the struggle to find the best solution for a specific problem, the principle of “trial and error.” Conversely, this means: For new technologies to be successful in a company, they have to get out of the IT and innovation departments and into the specialist departments. Because only here – in HR, sales, marketing, or production – it becomes apparent whether new technologies can meaningfully support company processes and sustainably increase productivity. In the Corona crisis, the specialist departments had to ensure the continuation of business operations, the “business continuity,” in their companies – and who scored with pragmatic solutions for this.
Targeted Avoidance Of Knowledge Silos
Nevertheless, it is still far too seldom possible to sustainably anchor innovation in the company. Instead, there is a risk of creating another knowledge silo that is organizationally decoupled from the company as a whole and produces proofs-of-concept, the transfer of which into actual operation fails due to the specialist departments.
As a result, executives face a dilemma:
On the one hand, they have to create innovative spaces that are not swallowed up by the corporate structure; on the other hand, the innovations created there have to be compatible with this structure.
The key to overcoming these hurdles lies in the specialist departments themselves. Employees in sales, marketing, human resources, or development know about the requirements that daily business places on technology – and whether it meets them. When looking for an answer to the question of why, for example, the topic of virtual reality is only arriving very slowly in the German B2B landscape, we took precisely this factor into account. When we developed our platform ourselves, we entered into a dialogue with potential users early. The result is a series of best practices and recommendations that start-ups and solution providers should heed if their technology is to gain a foothold in the company in the first phase:
- Usability first: Only technology is used. The user also understands that. Surprisingly, however, the IT department often devises an extensive and complex application or process, the implementation of which requires weeks of training.
- Function Follows Form: A direct consequence of point one: As a company, you would rather forego a few functions with technology for better usability.
- Win “ambassadors” in the specialist departments: There are also tech enthusiasts in the HR department (and, of course, in all other departments). Identify these people and provide them with the necessary hardware, software, and, above all, time. By “seeding” many small plants, you can often achieve more than you would with a large monolith in the IT department
- Standardization creates networking: Make sure every department uses the same platform when developing their solutions. This means that emerging best practices can easily be adopted and further developed. The use of a cloud-based (or SaaS solution) increases collaboration even more.
From The First Application To The Extensive “Technology Hub.”
Companies lay the foundation for the success of technology when they roll out the first application created with a new platform. If this is used company-wide and made available across departments in a central hub solution, you maximize the number of potential users at an early stage. Once projects have been created, they can be scaled better and updated in real-time – an advantage that cloud-based SaaS applications, in particular, bring by definition. If, for example, the marketing department has created a virtual reality app for the presentation of a certain product, HR can also use a few modifications to offer new employees to schools and training courses. Knowledge can be optimally used and expanded within the framework of such a “VR Hub,” copied and modified. As for usage increases,
In addition, with increasing usability, the IT department is also relieved, as the marketing department becomes a “content creator” itself. In this way, important learnings in using this technology can be achieved step-by-step without the need for massive investments. The application will ideally be published on the same platform that it was built on.
Discussions about tech trends such as the Metaverse show: The topic of virtual reality is “here to stay” and can become a permanent tool in everyday business – if companies use the technology pragmatically and continuously build their own experiences. In this way, they proactively contribute to helping to shape a technology themselves instead of waiting for the next tech giant to provide them with an “off the shelf” solution.