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Adopting a Silicon Valley approach as software eats Continental Europe

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Changing the way we think

Can a product be sold before it exists It sounds counterintuitive, but makes a lot of sense. Interacting with customers helps product developers determine whether consumers are ready to buy the product before investing in making it a reality.

There are obstacles to doing this in an environment with an established brand and several decision-making levels to go through before any content is published.

Deutsche Telekom started an initiative in early 2014 to enable a nimbler approach to innovation practices in its organisation. It brings new practices to a tech-driven company where collaboration with university scientists is a point of pride. The company is still struggling to understand the value of customer contact during the innovation process. It applies the approach and assumes the results will speak for themselves.

In 2014, Futurice conducted a survey on the state of digital transformation in Finland and 70 per cent of the responding companies had digital initiatives in their top three strategic projects. The greatest challenges the companies said they faced were the sluggishness of their organisations, corporate culture and difficulties identifying digital opportunities. Corporate structures are traditionally optimised for success in the present and a given market.

Success in an age of accelerated change requires that an organisation understands the customers needs and is capable of meeting them quickly with the right services and products.

The paradigm shift that originated in Silicon Valley continues to travel east. Slush originated in Finland, but it’s built on the startup ethos. The first official Slush Asia will take place in Tokyo in April 2015. 

Consultants from Futurice and other Finnish companies spent the last week of the month showing Japanese businesses how they too, can use the new approaches to kickstart their innovation motors, thinking and acting more fluidly, learn through experimentation and embrace a fast growth mentality.

No matter where in the world they come from, companies that develop solutions to answer questions we arent even aware of yet are going to be the winners in this digital transformation.

Mathias Calonius is head of consultancy at digital services firm Futurice.

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