Road Report: Innovation and Disruption Face Off at OPEX 2019

Recently, I attended this year’s OPEX Week in Orlando. Innovation was top-of-mind with the attendees, especially how to harness it to move their companies forward. Yet, the concept of disruption was also in play which begged the questions — How are disruption and innovation the same? Different? Which comes first? Can we do both?

This quandary came to a forefront during the keynote speaker session by Terry Jones, Founder of Travelocity.com, Kayak.com, & WayBlazer. Terry discussed the forces of disruption that companies have to face today from the Internet of Things to the Cloud…even self-driving cars. From a disruption perspective, these things tend to annoy and frustrate us. They get in our way. They require change. However, from the perspective of innovation, it’s brilliant. Innovation requires us to defy “the way it’s always been” and brilliantly ideate the possible.

Disruption and innovation: Two sides of the same coin.

This theme resurfaced time and again in sessions and conversations. Operations leaders know that disruptions are coming and that they need to be on the edge of innovation to stay competitive… or even to survive. This underscores why companies commit entire teams dedicated to operational excellence and innovation. These teams’ initiatives range from multi-year plans to completely change their go-to-market to digitizing one or two critical back-office processes.

Digitizing processes is in TrackVia’s wheelhouse. In a session led by Walker Fenton, SVP of Product for TrackVia, attendees chose their own adventure by sharing which manual processes bogged down their businesses. The two adventures were quality controls and order management. And, the biggest protagonists? Manual data collection and no associated workflow.

As chosen by the audience, Walker shared two case studies about how companies are digitizing order management and quality controls. A major clothing manufacturer reduced its special order cycle time by more than 70%. And, 3D Systems improved their quality by 30%. He even threw in a bonus story about how Stearns Lending significantly reduced its loan cycle time, resulting in millions of dollars in savings.

Because these companies face unique global market disruptions, they are innovating their businesses to maintain and gain competitive leadership positions. Instead of being annoyed or bogged down, they are focused on being on the edge of innovation. As Terry Jones put it, innovation and disruption are inevitable, growth is optional.

I would love to hear your thoughts on how you are embracing innovation in your business. Instead of waiting around to be disrupted, what are you doing to stay on top of innovation at your business?

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