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5 big questions on innovation

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Chris Hummel, Chief Marketing Officer, Schneider Electric

Chris Hummel, Chief Marketing Officer

Chris Hummel has a 20+-year career in enterprise sales and marketing and is a globally-recognized thought leader and widely-respected senior executive in the technology industry.
Reporting directly to the CEO of Siemens Enterprise Communications, Chris serves as President of the North American Region and Chief Commercial Officer. In his capacity as President of the North American Region, he has full profit...
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1

How is your team changing the game within your industry sector?

Innovation is something you don’t easily teach or even force on an organization.  It requires fresh and unique perspectives gained from either pulling people out of their traditional roles and comfort zones or by bringing in outside perspectives through new talent acquisition or external expertise.  At the same time, executive leaders must display and encourage a strong preference for thinking ‘outside the box’ and a willingness to take risk to foster a change/innovation culture. 

2

What are some of the biggest impediments to innovation in your organization or industry sector?

Innovation is stifled in companies that operate in silos, where leaders are inwardly focused, and where stakeholders have allowed business challenges, market dynamics or competitive pressures to dominate decision making and investment decisions.  There is ample evidence of brands who have seen market leading positions deteriorate due to over-confidence and too much “we know best” mentality.  Finally, companies whose research and development agendas are dominated by engineering or product focus rather than a market focus often fall behind peers from an innovation perspective.

3

How has innovation become engrained in your organization's culture, and how is it being optimized?

A determined shift to a market-focused R&D  agenda is helping to drive an accelerated pace of innovation at my company.  We have shifted away from investment decisions driven by the product portfolio or so-called “long tail” development projects toward a decision schema driven on careful analysis of industry trends and changing customer requirements.   Those companies whose investment priorities are the result of market-facing analysis will have a faster time to value from innovation projects.

4

What technologies, business models, and trends will drive the biggest changes in your industry over the next two years?

The emergence of improved collaboration and communications technologies will enable innovation workers to better come together as virtual teams and amplify the collective effort of today’s “anywhere workers.”  Such technologies will seamlessly combine voice, video, text, structured and unstructured content while also enabling a much improved collaborative environment that will drive not only higher levels of business performance but also accelerate the pace of innovation.

5

Can you share a specific innovation strategy you’ve recently encountered which you find compelling?

I admire Apple for what they have done for product design.   Frog showed us the power of bringing customers into the conversation around innovation.   In the end, I admire any company who has the courage to seek a better alternative when the “good enough” option won’t do.

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