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Innovate on the Cheap

Innovation is inextricably linked with the old adage “If at first you don’t succeed, try, and try again!”  Great entrepreneurs concur that in order to drive real innovation, corporations must cultivate originality by giving employees the freedom and resources to introduce new ideas, methods and processes.

So I began to wonder, what are some great ways that an enterprise can balance the hard costs and the opportunity costs of fostering innovation with the more practical demands of the balance sheet?

A few weeks ago, I heard James Urquhart talking to a customer about their cloud strategy and he said some things that I thought were very powerful.  He was talking about the flexibility of Cisco UCS and how it allowed for inexpensive do-overs.  You can buy the hardware and try something on it at small scale.  If it shows promise, you can scale it up to meet the full market need.  If it doesn’t work, the hardware can quickly be recaptured and repurposed for the next innovation.  Repeat, redo, retry, redesign—cost effectively “try, and try again.”

As the conversation went on with the customer, we came to recognize the same benefit of a well-engineered orchestrator as the common point of interaction of all the pieces of IT.

New services in the cloud are more than just building a new VM template or vApp and then cloning it on demand.  The move toward ITaaS means bringing in new purpose-built technologies (such as IT chargeback, application configuration management, network flow management, industry-specific compliance reporting, etc.), and integrating them with existing OSS/BSS products you already have (ticketing systems, network monitoring, email, etc.).

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