Omar Abbosh: Earlier, I shared some perspectives on the innovation landscape, of how the things that we saw in sci-fi movies like Gattaca, Star Wars and Knight Rider are becoming real now, and how it is moving much faster than we ever anticipated. What do you think, Nancy?
Nancy McKinstry: I absolutely agree. I think the pace of innovation is accelerating dramatically. I also think that the things our customers at Wolters Kluwer are confronted with are also very dynamic. They are dealing with an explosion of information—and if you talk to a doctor, a nurse, a lawyer, first thing they're gonna tell you is, “I'm being asked to do more with fewer resources.” These pain points are significant, and innovation and technology can really help. So I'm very excited about the future of certainly our business, because technology is more prevalent than ever, and available at a much lower cost. You can innovate faster, fail faster—you can do a lot of things today that you couldn't 10 years ago.
Omar Abbosh: I find your thinking about very specific industry pain points interesting, because you actually speak a little like a disruptor startup … because all the startups that I've ever spoken to are thinking about the job to be done; the real end-consumer's problem, and solving that pain point, and using innovation to do it—and big companies sometimes get disrupted because they're not watching, looking around the corners of how those industry pain points could be resolved for end-customers.
Nancy McKinstry: Our approach [to staying on the winning side of innovation] is twofold: First; we stay very close to the customers and their workflow. A lot of our innovation comes from actually watching our customers work, and then leveraging technology—through automation, artificial intelligence, or other means—to get the work done in a more effective way. Staying close to customers is absolutely essential to figuring out where could disruption happen.
Second; staying really close to the market, because it's not as if you can imagine that you can think of every possible solution out there. So, watching what entrepreneurs are doing and then hopefully connecting with them to build an ecosystem around the various customers that you serve. And some of it you do yourself, and some of it you might do with partners.
Omar Abbosh: I think this business of how to watch your end-customer market and the innovation market is super interesting, and there's a concept that I love that sometimes is called “trap value,” which is that every company, inside it, there's value that has been trapped because of the way we run and operate today, that could be unlocked, or ‘un-trapped’ with some new innovation. And so, of course, companies are always continually innovating and improving how they operate, for example. But then there's value that's locked inside the wider supply chain between a company and its component manufacturers, the elements of its supply chain. The Airbnb's and the Ubers showed us that there's value to be unlocked in the wider market, putting cars that could be driven for others to work or homes with spaces to be used, and then even the societal value.
Omar Abbosh: When I think about someone like a Disney, who, when they introduced their MagicBand and they said, “People come to the theme park ‘cause they love it, the kids love it, but they don't love our long queues, and they don't love screaming kids standing in line to get their burger.” And so, “How about if we give people a MagicBand, sensorize the park, and allow people to input what they want in an app, so that when the parents show up at their little restaurant, the server brings their food there and then instead of having a queue.” And that shifting experiences is unlocking amazing value for customers, making the company much more relevant and personal.
Nancy McKinstry: But it started with understanding that pain point, that queueing was a pain point, that screaming children were a pain point, and then how do we solve that? I do think, for any corporation, you have to stay very close to understanding exactly what your customers deal with. And now, a quick example in our market that I'm fascinated by is that if you look at a tax professional, they actually spend about 35% of their time pulling data out of different systems, putting it into Excel, and then crunching it for various reasons. We now are developing bots that can now go out and actually gather that data from all these very different systems and put it together in a structured way so that we can improve the productivity.
Imagine if you're a professional and somebody hands you something and says to you, “You're gonna get 35% more of your time back to do other things.” In our world, those are the kinds of things that have a dramatic impact not only on the quality of the work they deliver to their end client, but for the professional themselves. And I think that's, again, pretty exciting.
Omar Abbosh: I totally and utterly agree with you. And a lot of people look at these automation and bot-type technologies and they're fearful. But actually, in reality, and what we've found in Accenture, having applied it to ourselves at a very big scale, is that you completely can augment the worker and the worker's experience, and take away the mundane and the boring, free them up to do the more value-added, the more personal, the more human activities, the more complex decision-making type activities. And frankly, it'd be more valuable to their customer, which is ...
Nancy McKinstry: … the End Game
Omar Abbosh: Yes!
For more information on Innovation at Wolters Kluwer and Accenture