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Crazy Lab Days Unit4

Who needs innovation now? You do.

from  October 2, 2020 | 4 min read

Everybody is fond of talking about the importance of innovation. I’ve spoken (and written) about it several times myself. It’s the engine of the tech industry. It’s crucial to making us more efficient as organizations and people. It’s what makes products, processes, and services better.

But just how important is innovation in real terms? In the last year, giants of the tech world like Google, Apple, Samsung, and Microsoft all spent in excess of $15 billion on research and development – with some spending in excess of $20 billion. But where is all that money going?

When it comes to innovation, small is just as important as big

We all hear about the big innovations – they’re the ones that put companies ahead of the competition. They’re the ones that make the history books. And they’re the ones we all aspire to.

And we should aspire to them. But the bread and butter of innovation is about something much more important. Staying competitive. This is the reality.

The biggest tech companies on earth all spend similar proportions of their total budgets on R&D (between around 10% and 15%) And the fact is that most of this money doesn’t go towards inventing the next iPhone or putting people on the moon. It goes towards small, incremental changes that help us all keep pace with the competition and with the pace of changing expectations among customers and the market.

And if innovation is this important in ordinary years, you should assume it’s even more important in times of change. The shelf life of your business models, your processes, your products is shorter than you think it is – and with things changing as much as they are, failure to innovate can mean failure to thrive.

In 2020, as we all work hard to survive and thrive in a business landscape that’s changed considerably, we should be working harder than ever to foster and nurture innovation from every part of our organizations – not just the R&D department.

Crazy Lab Days – making our vision come through and shaping the future

On 19-21 October, we’ll be hosting the fifth edition of our Crazy Lab Days innovation event. It’s our annual platform for ideas to shine and to bring collaborative innovation to life. The intention is to empower everyone in the company to identify and act on new ideas for our products and services. It’s a great opportunity for people from different departments to get together to solve problems and try out new ideas in an experimental and entrepreneurial environment – with fast actions and fast results.

In keeping with the times, the event will be a little different this edition. This year, our people will be joining remotely and we’re focusing on ideas that are built and delivered using the Unit4 Extension Kit. Extension Kit is, not only, pivotal to our overall product strategy but also the foundation on which we envision innovation will be provided to our customers going forward. We’ve asked our people to come up with an idea that adds value to our customers, improves the use of our software and delivers true People Experience – such that our customers can Experience Real Purpose.

Teams from across the business have submitted their ideas, and we’ve chosen some of the most promising to compete in the main event. Each self-defined team that made it to the finals will have from Monday to Wednesday to build, test, and pitch their extensions (with help and coaching from internal mentors and experts.)

And of course, because we believe that innovation should always have the goal of creating a better experience and product for our customers, the complete extensions developed during the event will be incorporated into our product.

Creating the right environment for innovation

I believe that a big part of the responsibility of leadership lies in creating the right kind of environment for innovations to take place. One in which risk taking and experimentation are celebrated, and false starts are simply part of the price we pay for the eventual big win. And what’s great about an event like this is that it encourages this kind of experimental behavior across the whole business and makes it clear to everyone that taking initiative and trying to find better ways to do things isn’t just the province of our product devs. It’s up to all of us to look at old things in new ways, take the leap, and seek out and encourage innovations in the way we all work every day – no matter how small they may seem.

I’d like to wish everyone participating good luck and great fun. I’m looking forward to be on the jury and see the results!

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Photo of Claus Jepsen, Unit4 Chief Product and Technology Officer

Claus Jepsen

Unit4 Chief Product and Technology Officer

I’ve been fascinated by technology since age 14: from my first Tandy TRS Model 1, through to developing cloud-based, super-scalable solutions and bringing innovative technologies such as AI, chatbots, and predictive analytics to ERP. We really can now have better, non-invasive and pervasive solutions — to improve People Experience and help us focus on what we truly love.

My spare time is spent with family and friends. I can often be found road biking to stay in shape, and I love experiencing different cultures through traveling.