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New Values in New Ways.

Imaginatik is a software innovation company which provides consulting and software platforms for enterprise organisations. We interview Ralph Welborn to…

New Values in New Ways

6th December 2016


Founded in 1996, Imaginatik has two decades’ experience applying advisory, software, and analytics to the pursuit of innovation excellence. The company has a crisp focus: to help clients identify and capture new sources of value in new ways.

The types of clients that Imaginatik work with have realised that the world has changed and that ‘more of the same’ thinking, engaging, and executing no longer works. Responding to these changes, Ralph gives us an insight into what the company is doing to address these issues.

“As most businesses well know, the world is changing, and as we all know, changes always create new winners and losers.  We can see this in the topple rate within many industries, whereby market leaders of yesterday have fallen or toppled off of their leading position and companies previously unknown have become the new leaders of tomorrow. We can see it in the rise of new business models and the greater market multiples they carry compared to many other companies. And third, we see it in the 3x revenue growth, on average, that companies that have a robust innovation program have compared with those who don’t. 

“These changes are the result of shifting technologies, changes in customer expectations and the blurrings across industry boundaries as well as between physical and augmented/virtual realities. The implications of these changes and shifts are profound. First, it creates the opportunities for new ways to engage customers, stakeholders and markets. Second, it involves a fundamental re-thinking of where to play and how to do so – with respect to where new sources of value will come from and how to capture it.  And third, it requires what we call the ‘new 20%’ of critical capabilities needed to capture 70% of the new value. This is a different world, requiring new ways to ‘make sense’ to ‘take action’ regarding the opportunities that these differences create.”

According to Ralph, organisations have three strategic options to take regarding a changing world.  “One, they can ignore it (for now); two, they can do more of what they do, better, faster and cheaper and try to outrun the changes, playing what he calls “the out-execution game.” Or three, change the game by taking advantage of the new opportunities that changes always create.”

Innovation, for Ralph and Imaginatik, needs to focus on the third option. To do so, innovation has a crisp definition, and becomes the rallying cry for Imaginatik: to help organisations identify and capture new sources of value.

Organisations tend to be at different places have different maturities regarding innovation.  Consequently, as Ralph puts it, Imaginatik helps organisations ask, and answer, one of three questions: what’s next and what do we do about it (with respect to where to play and how to do so); how do we get more out of the innovation programs and activities we’re currently driving; and how do we get started along the innovation journey?

Ralph highlights the three types of services Imaginatik has to help organisations answer these questions.

“First, we have workshops which are half to two day sessions providing clarity and driving executive alignment around these questions and/or specific topics regarding strategic and innovation objectives. Second, we work with clients on an advisory basis, helping them ask, and answer, these questions from insight to market impact. And third, we provide innovation software and analytics innovation management platforms that support the full innovation journey, from market insight to crowd-sourced ideation, from idea prioritization to market testing. One of the elements that’s unique about us is our combination of what we call ‘Computational Intelligence’ (via data analytics and machine learning) with ‘Human Insight’ (based on frameworks, experience and just-plain perspective) – service to driving innovation programs. Lots of people can sell software, or provide advisory services; it’s the combination in service of creating business outcomes, from insight to impact that compels us and provides value for our clients.” 

Imaginatik was designed a number of years ago as a crowd-sourced ideation platform, based on the principle of engaging employees and customers at the edge of the organisation in a way that harness their insights and thereby promote a culture of ongoing innovative engagement. This remains core to what the company does today. However, over the past two years, clients have expanded their focus as Ralph explains.

“Ideas are nice, but execution is key. Figuring out how to ‘cross-the-chasm’ from an innovation to market impact is what matters to get the type of business value that we all need.  Engagement becomes sticky and persistent when results are realized and people see, feel and experience change coming from collaborative insight. Prioritized and aligned ideas are harder which is why we have now built up a robust set of analytics to ‘make visible what is too often invisible’ in terms of who engages around what, from where, why, and how, as well as what ‘white space’ might we explore from a set of what we call “collision analytics” from different industries, perspectives, disciplines, and geographies. Our strategic shift has been pulled by client demand and need for insight into the changes in technology, customer expectations and emerging business models and the opportunities that such changes always create.

“Our strategy remains to focus on the three questions we hear from clients. How do we get started? How do we get more out of what we are doing? And what’s next and what do we do about it in terms of where to play and how to do so? And, of course, we keep refining and developing new workshops, advisory services, analytic insights and technology products to support them.”

He continues. “The world has changed; what worked before no longer will require new insights into where value is being created and destroyed within the ecosystems in which you and your customers are engaged.” This focus on what has changed. The ecosystems in which organisations are engaged has dramatic implications, Ralph highlights, on customers to engage, ecosystems to shape, capabilities to orchestrate and value to realize, in new ways. 

The blurring of industry boundaries, the emergence of new business models and the high market multiples they reflect and the blunt reality of “cognitive eating the world” – at the interface of machine learning, social, mobile and big data – underpin the new competitive realities we face.  They are the catalysts affecting the change in customer expectations, the acceleration of the topple rate of the once former industry leaders and drive the very different market multiple of the new business models.

“It takes time for clients and companies to figure out how to take advantage of technology shifts. There has always been a time lag between technical advances and managerial/business model innovation. There’s nothing different about the existence of such a lag. There is, however, a significant difference in the risk of the lag, given the implication of ‘cognitive eating the world’ via machine/deep learning and the catalysts of the ‘algorithm’ economy. Namely, the risk that our exponentially accelerating pace of technical change will spread out the lag, making it more and more difficult for companies to figure out what to do, and how to deal with these changes, and the lag that already exists. We’re seeing this now with pressures on nearly every industry, with value being created and destroyed everywhere, and with new entrants coming into existing firms playing fields shifting the game, with new value propositions and capabilities. The implication? Greater pressure for all, yet significant opportunity for a few. Requiring what? New ways to make sense of both the challenges and the opportunities. How? By learning how to see the emerging patterns of opportunities and the ripple effects that decisions made and actions taken will have on those opportunities.

“Tomorrow’s leaders will be skilled in seeing such patterns, and adept in thinking systemically around where to play, and how to orchestrate capabilities from different actors to capture new sources of value. That’s where we’re headed. Those are but some of the lessons we’re seeing, and helping catalyse, with the organisational leaders of tomorrow.

 “The reason Imaginatik has expanded our advisory offerings is to help people recognize this imperative and learn how to take advantage of it. That is one of the best ways, I believe, we can help our clients to capture new sources of value in new ways.”

Ralph has significant global business advisory and technology implementation experience, focusing on identifying where value is being created and destroyed and how to capture new sources of value. He has held a variety of leadership positions including Strategy and Transformation Leader at IBM (Middle East and Africa) and Senior Partner of Global Solutions and Innovation at KPMG Consulting.  Ralph believes there are key principles which he adheres to run an effective business. An important aspect is listening to clients and fellow colleagues.

“I try to listen carefully – to our clients, to the market and to the incredibly rich talent of people who work at Imaginatik. Our staff are extraordinary in their insight, capabilities and passion to help clients. The team, and our clients, are the engines of change, I’m merely the catalyst.  Curiosity and the passionate intent to learn from different people with different perspectives from different disciplines is what I try to do and encourage our teams to do as well.”

Company: Imaginatik

Name: Ralph Welborn

Web Address:

Address: 745 Atlantic Ave, 8th Floor, Boston, 02111, USA

Telephone: US office: 1 866 327 4330 UK office: 44 1329 243 243

Categories: Articles, Training

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