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5 big questions on innovation

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Wai Wong, CEO and Founder, Serviceaide

Wai Wong, CEO and Founder

Wai is Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of Serviceaide. A serial entrepreneur, he has been in the high-tech industry for 36 years. Wai held executive leadership roles at BEA where he was the EVP and Global Chief Product Officer and at CA Technologies where he was the SVP and GM of the Unicenter brand, SVP and GM of WW Services, and SVP and GM of interBiz.

Wai received his Master’s and...
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How is your team changing the game within your industry sector?

It starts with the fundamental belief that we all have responsibilities to our customers, partners, shareholders and fellow employees. We have to believe that what we do is valuable to our customers and to the market as a whole.  This is the foundation of why we have to keep innovating, changing and doing better.

I have found that some people that are incredibly innovative in one area (ex: technology, operational processes, business model, etc.) can be very resistant to change in other dimensions.  Individual and collective mental inertia and the organizational mandates that reinforce the inertia are what makes change hard.  However, if an organization takes things to the extreme on the other end of the spectrum, people often revert to becoming cautious and hesitant in fear of doing the wrong thing because there is no clear set path.  Finding the middle ground by creating an environment with a foundation that is multiple faceted enough to stand even when major pieces are being modified is key to innovation. This allows people to support change to get to a better place with the understanding that the pain of change is a prelude to something better.


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

Standards and processes can be great, but when organizations go overboard it can lead to a checkbox mentality that isn’t well suited for innovation. At the same time, if solutions are not thought out fully, and they predictably fail – this can greatly impact the trust in innovation and change.  The key is to focus on the value of results, keeping innovations practical, when implementing new ideas.  Of course, research is also important in determining which ideas are worth major efforts and which are not.

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

I believe that we should never say NO, immediately.  Accept ideas as worthy of some mental investment and at least one discussion to tease out how it can create value for your constituents (customers, partners, shareholders and fellow employees). Of course, if it comes from any of the constituents, the likelihood of it being impactful is even better.  The cycle of idealization to feedback to implementation back to idealization is an implicit optimization loop.

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

The AI model, based around insights and encoded knowledge, will be extremely impactful in the coming years.

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

There are many areas where an organization can innovate: technologically, operational processes and business models, etc. I see compelling innovation put to use constantly - the highly diversified technology threads of Google, the use of SaaS as a business model by ServiceNow, the full iphone consumer all-in-one experience by Apple, or IBM’s Watson AI initiative.  They are all industry changing from the value they have created.  In many cases (like in AI), innovation in pure technology also makes possible innovation using the technology in operational processes and business models. That is where we at Serviceaide are making our own small contribution for Service and Support use cases.
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