Interview With IAG and Vertiv

We speak to Alex Freeman, director - startup growth & commercial strategy at IAG and Robert Linsdell, managing director Australia and New Zealand at Vertiv Co.


Ahead of their presentations at the Chief Innovation Officer Summit in Sydney on September 14 & 15, we spoke to Alex Freeman, director - startup growth & commercial strategy at IAG and Robert Linsdell, managing director Australia and New Zealand at Vertiv Co.

Alex is an expert in building innovation capability with large enterprises across financial services, media, government and the tech sector.

As Director of Commercial Strategy & Startup Growth at IAG, Alex works with the Firemark Incubator mentoring entrepreneurs in growth strategy, partnering, procurement and digital marketing. Alex also supports IAG Ventures, IAG's Corporate Venture Capital Fund, with commercial strategy and deal flow support.

As a leading authority on corporate innovation and entrepreneurship, Alex writes for major publications including Business Insider, CIO Magazine and provides expert opinion on investing & entrepreneurship to Australia's major news outlets.

Robert is a versatile and accomplished international commercial executive with a diverse background in multiple sectors, including telecoms, electronic materials, chemicals and coatings. He also has a proven track record in the areas of complex problem resolution, new market identification and penetration, strategic planning and implementation, major restructure and footprint alignment.

What prevents innovation?

Alex Freeman: Having a poor understanding of what risk is and how to manage it.

Robert Linsdell:

- Organisational culture (not supportive)

- Lack of sufficient time for innovation to fully develop combined with lack of effective commercialisation- failed start-ups

- “Fossilised” in status quo/ complacency

How important is collaboration for effective innovation?

Alex Freeman: Essential. Any organisation: startups, enterprises, NFPs are fundamentally human systems. If you can't harness the collective genius of these human systems, you can't succeed.

Robert Linsdell: Effective innovation comprises of several stages that require the expertise of various subject matter experts- for instance, key people may be involved from the ideation to commercialisation stages. The more diverse the expertise of the team members, the more holistic the innovation becomes where all areas are covered, therefore increasing the chances of its success.

Can you teach somebody to be an innovator?

Alex Freeman: Yes. Everybody has some degree of creativity and everybody can learn the techniques of innovation ... Lean, Agile, Human Centred Design, etc.

Robert Lindsell: It can be facilitated by promoting an environment that encourages innovation but true innovators are born not made

Are there pre-requisites for effective innovation?

Alex Freeman: Yes. You need to set the conditions for innovation, especially establishing leadership intentionality, setting innovation goals and deciding on your appetite for experimentation.

- You need to know & communicate what problem(s) you are solving, what innovation means for you and your organisation, where you will innovate and what degree and velocity of innovation you intend to achieve.

- You need to build your capability and ways of working for generating ideas aligned to the goals you have defined.

- You need to build your capability and ways of working for rapidly piloting & prototyping. For example, you should be able to take a digital product concept and turn it into a web-scale, production release in under 4 weeks. If you can't do that in 2017, someone is going to eat your lunch.

Robert Lindsell:

- Putting the Voice of the Customer at the core

- Building a strong set of capabilities along the value chain

What can our audience expect to hear from you in Sydney?

Alex Freeman: I'm going to offer a bunch of tips for innovating in a corporate environment and working with startups. I'm aiming to give the presentation with the most practical insight, so you can take it back to your office and use it.

Robert Lindsell:

- The changing digital landscape and changing consumer behaviour

- Impact of technology downtime to organisations

- Emerging technologies that will disrupt the way IT infrastructure is deployed

You can catch Alex and Robert’s presentations at the Chief Innovation Officer Summit in Sydney on September 14 & 15

Inno balls small

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