We face many critical societal challenges, from healthcare crises to economic and social disparities, energy transition, and climate change. Although they are not a panacea, innovative technologies, when applied properly, can help overcome these challenges and create benefits for all - if they are designed by and for humans.
Even before the coronavirus outbreak, global economies were committing a significant and ever-growing proportion of GDP to research and development. The pandemic has added new urgency to the quest - almost half (49%) of companies now see innovation as a top-three priority.
Eight of the world's 10 biggest companies by market capitalization today are technology companies compared to just two in 2010. By the end of the decade, researchers estimate that technological innovations across virtual reality, metaverse, quantum, and circular economy could contribute trillions of dollars of new value to the global economy.
However, while the positive power of innovation is evident, the route to tech-led success is far from clear. Businesses often struggle to adapt due to the abundance of new and complex technologies. Capgemini research suggests half of business leaders feel their organization is unable to keep up with changes, with only 17% believing they have a company-wide culture of innovation.
What's more, just as the scale of the societal challenges that we face continues to intensify, so does the pace of innovation. Take quantum technology, for example - the development of the new field of quantum computation during the next decade will make it possible to simulate processes through complex mathematical models and superior processing power that were not considered feasible before. We are truly entering a new era of tech-led innovation. So, how will your business get there?
Prioritizing an effective innovation strategy
It is all too easy for organizations to take a scattergun approach to innovation, and also to mis-time their innovation investment. Creating an innovation strategy that harnesses the most appropriate technologies and turns these levers for change into a positive force is essential. Innovation can then transform your business and deliver progress for people and societies in an inclusive, sustainable, and ethical way.
For those who harness innovation effectively, the opportunities are boundless. Following a decade of pessimism, experts now believe that there is a realistic possibility of a new dawn of technological optimism breaking, but a new era that is tempered by pragmatism and honest communication.
Building an innovation ecosystem to learn and leverage
I also believe innovation should be seen as a continuum. While some concepts - such as quantum computing - will be truly disruptive and will in time create a seismic change; others will lead to incremental benefits.
It's important to recognize how creativity can bubble up from anywhere. Companies must find ways to allow everyone, everywhere - whether they're in your business or from a wider ecosystem of partners and startups - to contribute their ideas to this continuum.
However, the scale of the innovation challenge means no business can afford to work in isolation. If you want to harness the right technologies effectively, it's important to connect to an ecosystem that can help your business get the future it wants.
Applied research is crucial to a successful innovation strategy
The third element is bridging the gap between idea generation and implementation at scale, from scoping the initial problem, to researching use cases, from developing innovations and to scaling up those creative ideas.
Here's the rub: an effective innovation strategy is about much more than simply talking a good game. The success of your approach to innovation will be judged on your company's ability to put its creative ideas into action - and that's where our newly launched Quantum Lab (Q-Lab) can help.
This new dedicated initiative draws on the expertise of our scientific quantum researchers and specialist partners. Working with clients, we explore the potential of quantum applications, combining research projects and bringing in cutting-edge quantum partners - in computing, communications and sensing - areas where we see quantum adding value in the medium term.
In addition, Capgemini's world-wide network of Applied Innovation Exchanges plays a key role in bridging that gap. The AIEs are connected to local and global ecosystems of specialist startups, academics, venture capital firms, incubators, and large technology providers. Together we work to transition organizations from incremental, low-risk, low-return innovation activity to a more balanced portfolio of innovation projects that can drive tangible value and competitive edge.
This pioneering, research-led approach is helping business see what's possible and then make it a reality. Yes, innovation is an inherently complex process, but this is a proactive and pragmatic approach, that will help our clients get ready for the quantum revolution.
An effective innovation strategy is about much more than simply talking a good game. The success of your approach to innovation will be judged on your company's ability to put its creative ideas into action - and that's where our newly launched Quantum Lab (Q-Lab) can help.
Is your organization ready to ride the next wave of innovation?
Where do you see the opportunities of quantum technologies? How do you think they will help your business to gain a competitive advantage? Find out more about how Capgemini's Q-Lab bridges the gap between research and business application in my colleague Julian van Velzen's blog to be published soon.
Pascal Brier, Group Chief Innovation Officer, Member of the Group Executive Committee, Capgemini
Pascal, previously Executive Vice-President at Altran responsible for its Strategy, Technology & Innovation, is appointed Group Chief Innovation Officer.