Building teams of creators, collaborators and innovators

a woman leading a group meeting in an office

By Sandy Gupta, Vice President, Sales, Marketing & Operations, Microsoft Asia Pacific. This article was originally posted on LinkedIn.

Innovation isn’t always about a Newton moment, where a brilliant idea falls loose when an apple falls from a tree and hits someone on the head. For businesses, it’s more often a continuous process of improvement. It’s about finding ways to improve both technology and business practices to give a company an edge.

And this type of innovation is less about a solo genius than the right type of collaboration. This means that assembling the right team is essential. You need more than a team of coders who can build the solution.

You also need talent who can be business consultants, so that your team understands what the business needs and how it can best compete.

Cross-industry adoption of tech

In today’s hyper-competitive environment, ignoring innovation isn’t an option in any industry.

Non-tech companies are spending heavily on tech solutions too. It helps them find savings, build better customer solutions, and run increasingly complicated businesses, often across multiple markets. Retailers are employing web programmers for ecommerce, banks are looking for data scientists, the agriculture industry needs people with digital skills to adopt IOT, and energy providers need software (and hardware) engineers and developers to adopt an app-centric mindset.

It’s not just startups who seek Microsoft’s help; our customers range from major retailers to mining businesses to banks.

If you have any doubt about tech’s importance, you only need to look at how much business globally are spending on digital transformation. According to IDC, global spending on the digital transformation (DX) of business practices, products, and organizations is forecast to reach $2.8 trillion in 2025.

Businesses we work with are adopting digital transformation and are racing to stay relevant in a world of constant innovation – where new technologies like the Metaverse, Web 3.0 applications or even blockchain are already on the horizon.

Innovating for success

Research shows that 70 percent of complex, large-scale change programs don’t reach their stated goals.

Innovation is no longer product focused. Business leaders are asking us to help with specific business goals. They’re looking for data, analytics, and metrics to help them with the best perspective of the market.

What does that mean for innovation teams? It means they can’t simply be comprised of technologists who might have the skills to execute the innovation. Industry expertise and business acumen are equally critical to success.

A consultative approach is key.

And at Microsoft, our customer success teams play a vital role in helping customers achieve digital transformation. We drive change management, consumption, and adoption activities with key business and IT decision makers, and enable customers to realize real value from their investments.

Building successful teams

There is, of course, still plenty of room for people who focus on technology. They remain as essential as ever. But they need to work in concert with people who talk to customers in a language they understand whether that’s retail, government services or medicine or something else entirely.

The consultative and technically proficient team would build relationships with businesses of all sizes, helping organizations with their complex needs, and helping leaders realize how innovation and technology can help them achieve their business goals.

So how do you build this team? Do you train people so that they have these skills, or do you hire new people who already have them?

There is no magic formula that fits every scenario. In my experience, you need to do both.

Better together

Together, subject experts and tech experts can add up to more than the sum of their parts, driving continuous innovation and transforming companies and industries around the world. Together, they advocate and ensure that Microsoft solutions are designed, built, and deployed with our customers’ objectives in mind.

We know that the best businesses tend to be early investors in technology who find a way to distinguish themselves from their competitors. When businesses seek out help from us, they might have a specific solution in mind, or we might need to act as consultants to help them figure out what they need.

Increasingly, they expect to meet us halfway, and seek our help to guide their choices as well as build their solutions.

We can only do that when we have teams of business, tech, innovators and collaborators dedicated to tech intensity and customer centricity.

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