Joachim Box has been working at Fujitsu for around a year. In that time, he's acquired a lot of knowledge as to how the company approaches innovation.
Ahead of this October's Chief Innovation Officer Summit in London, we sat down with him.
What are the key challenges that you are addressing?
Our business customers are looking for new ways to connect with and provide services to their customers. They are looking to do this at scale but also with more flexible commercial models. There is a desire to take some of the things we see and use as consumers that are often seen as really innovative and replicate elements of those features at enterprise level. One of the biggest challenges we all face though is being able to increase our connectedness in a safe and secure way. Providing innovative solutions within a cyber secure environment is really important to us and our customers.
We are competing not just with similar organisations but also with lots of smaller, more specialised companies who are able to deliver focussed services and products in an agile way. Our challenge is to match this approach on a much larger scale, ensuring our customers remain competitive in the knowledge that their technology systems are innovative for their business needs and cyber secure.
Would you describe your organisation as having an ‘innovative culture’? If so, why?
We operate in an industry that demands innovation. We must deliver innovative technology and services to our customers to help ensure they remain competitive, so being innovative has to be a fundamental part of who we are. It represents one of our six core values (which interestingly were derived collaboratively by our employees). But I guess the real test of culture is ensuring that all of us are encouraged to role model innovation on a daily basis. This year is our 80th anniversary and it was noted that the key to our past success has been innovation, but innovation also is the key to our future success. There is currently company wide innovation jams taking place to help inform that future and all staff are encouraged to participate. The service I lead, Activ8, concentrates on innovations with our customers, and integral to that process is participation of talented people from across Fujitsu collaborating with customer groups.
Can we do more? Maintaining a culture of innovation is relentless and manifests itself in many ways. We have a really tangible example of that right now - we have given over significant physical space in our UK & Ireland HQ to a new innovation centre to share with our customers. Each day as we head in to that building it represents a visual reminder that innovation is part of the day job.
Does a specific ‘innovation’ role need to have a position in the boardroom, such as Chief Innovation Officer?
Do we need senior leaders to champion and drive innovation? Yes, of course and whether that is a single dedicated board position or implicit in all board roles, what is important is that from the Board there is leadership and accountability for innovation. In my view, for an organisation to have a chance of cracking it, we have to supplement any focus on the function and discipline of innovation with an explicit call to arms throughout the company. Innovation is a team game. Organisations that are truly innovative will have leaders at all levels who are committed to fostering a culture of innovation, where employees are encouraged to think creatively and are not afraid to make their ideas heard.