Enabling big company innovation28 Aug 2014
Peter Sayburn, co-founder and MD of Market Gravity, shares his experiences of developing corporate entrepreneurship.
Innovation Award sponsor Market Gravity has helped clients including Aegon, Lloyds Banking Group, and British Gas to take a big idea, prototype the new service and launch it into the market. Its co-founder and MD, Peter Sayburn, is an expert on big company innovation and author of ‘Defying Gravity: Adventures of a corporate entrepreneur’.
Peter took time out to talk to the NBA about corporate entrepreneurship in the context of innovation, employee engagement and customer service:
NBA: What is corporate entrepreneurship about and what part does it play in big company innovation?
PS: In every big company, there are hundreds of great ideas, just waiting to be unleashed on the world. And in those companies there are dozens of people with great entrepreneurial talent who want to see the ideas realised. But unfortunately, in bigger more established companies, this is really hard to achieve. Those who succeed are Corporate Entrepreneurs – people and teams who apply the mind-set and methods of an entrepreneur to big company innovation challenges. This is really important as big businesses have a massive impact on the world when they get behind a new idea.
NBA: How does corporate entrepreneurship contribute to better staff engagement / retention?
PS: We all want to work in a progressive and innovative environment, so corporate entrepreneurship is very positive for overall team engagement and motivation. Taking your own product or service, from idea to market launch, gives you a great sense of achievement. As a result, corporate entrepreneurs usually feel more ownership and control over their destiny than those who follow a more traditional career path. It is very rare that the corporate world can match the financial rewards that start-up entrepreneurs lust after, so the motivation has to be intrinsic. Your reward may be limited to pride in your own achievements.
NBA: How does corporate entrepreneurship relate to customer service?
PS: Entrepreneurs are totally obsessed with their customers and are relentless in their commitment to improving their product for these target consumers. If you think about the companies with the highest levels of loyalty (Harley Davison, AirBnB, Apple, Giff Gaff) they have all created much more than a product; for their customers they enable a new way of life. In many cases, customers become part of the service, helping each other to solve problems and getting a better experience from the product. There is a great opportunity for big companies to find new ways to engage customers and create new services with them, but it takes a different mind-set. You have to be comfortable with testing, trialling and sometimes failing, before you get it right.
NBA: Do you have some examples of how MG has enabled customer co-creation?
PS: Co-creation is at the heart of good service design and at Market Gravity we get customers involved at every stage of designing a new proposition. Initially, in our Discover phase we immerse ourselves in the customers’ world to really understand their challenges and to assess the commercial opportunity for a new solution. In the Design and Deliver stages, we work closely with target customers to turn new ideas into compelling designs and experiences. Throughout the process, we build prototypes and ask customers to validate and challenge the product or service by trying to use it. We recently prototyped a new investment proposition, by simulating the entire service experience, including turning one of our meeting rooms into a living room for the day, providing ‘face-time’ financial advisers and giving customers a range of challenges using our new iPad apps. We got their feedback from one afternoon and by the next morning, we had a new and improved version, designed by the end user.
NBA: How can you measure the impact of corporate entrepreneurship?
PS: We launched the annual Corporate Entrepreneur Awards five years ago to recognise and celebrate the achievements of big company innovators and since then it has attracted hundreds of different businesses, including Virgin, Barclays, TfL, Telefonica and BMW. It has become a regular event for the growing community of corporate entrepreneurs and a showcase for new innovation. It has also proven to be a great marketing and networking opportunity for Market Gravity, resulting in several new accounts and projects. This year, for the first time the CEA will take place in New York to celebrate corporate entrepreneurship in North America.
We look for four main attributes in CEA winners: 1) Clear evidence of a customer need or problem; 2) Potential to significantly disrupt the status quo; 3) Evidence of entrepreneurship in overcoming internal and external challenges; 4) Evidence of some initial commercial success.
While it is really tough to put a specific financial value on corporate entrepreneurship, we believe that it is essential to sustainable, profitable business in today’s marketplace. Benefits include speeding up the core business, attracting and retaining the best talent, making the best use of scarce resource, and access into new growth markets. All this means that innovative and entrepreneurial businesses enjoy an ‘innovation premium’ compared to their peers.
Finalists for the Market Gravity Innovation Award are preparing to present to a panel of judges in September. Winners in all award categories will be announced at the National Business Awards Ceremony on 11th November at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane. To book your place(s) to attend the business event of the year visit the website now or call Matt Wilson on 020 7560 4225.