What is an innovation strategy and 7 reasons you need one today

What is innovation?

What is an innovation strategy and 7 reasons you need one today  In today’s business landscape two things are undeniable:

  • The first, you must innovate or face extinction and the second;
  •  Innovators have dilemmas.

In this age of disruptive technology and globally integrated markets, an innovation strategy is key to success. Some companies even define their raison d’être as being at the forefront of innovation, but what does innovation actually mean?

Innovation is many things. It is an essential evolutionary mechanism that allows species, and—for our purposes—businesses, to survive the changes in their environment and/or prosper in a new environment. It can happen purposefully or accidentally. It can be radical or subtle. It happens in some companies and some countries with much greater frequency than others.

The history of business is littered with examples of companies that failed to innovate and died as a consequence of that failure, and also those bold firms who innovated their way to global relevance seemingly overnight.

There are four major types of innovation:

1. Incremental innovation is by far the most common type of innovation. It is the process of implementing an existing technology within an existing marketplace to add value and deliver a better product or service more efficiently. The continual incremental improvements to user interfaces in software products are examples of incremental innovation.

2. Architectural innovation is the process of taking your existing skills, technologies and lessons learned and creating value by applying them to a new market. For example, NASA-developed viscoelastic polyurethane foam is now commonly used to build mail-order memory foam mattresses, and consequently a booming industry.

What is an innovation strategy and 7 reasons you need one today  3. Radical/breakthrough innovation gives rise to completely new industries. Electricity, the telephone, the internal combustion engine, the airplane, the mobile phone are all examples of radical innovation.

4. Disruptive Innovation is perhaps the most misunderstood of the four. It is the application of new technology to an existing marketplace. That technology is initially more expensive and addresses an underserved market, as such, the products or platforms using the new technology are considered niche. But as maturity and economies improve, the technology eventually becomes compelling to mass audiences and renders incumbent companies uncompetitive. Blockbuster video’s fall to Netflix is an example of disruptive innovation. We call disruptive innovators “blindside attackers” because you usually don’t realize your business is threatened until it is much too late.

 

Innovations Strategies – what are they and why do they matter?

What are they?

An innovation strategy is a plan to improve profitable revenue or market share through service or product innovation. Innovation strategies most often involve the application of technology. They are conceived through deep analysis of customer needs and “jobs-to-be-done” (filling a gap) or through the nurturing of certain kinds of company culture and/or leadership style. Innovation strategies define how much and what kind of resources need to be assembled and how they will be deployed, and can even be used as a means of creating an early warning system of disruptive innovator threats and preparing responses to potential competitive threats.

Why does it matter?

The traditional approach to a company’s strategy has been the application of operational excellence. This makes perfect sense—if we can service our customers more efficiently then our products will be more competitive, and we will be rewarded with greater market share and repeat business, improving the returns to our investors.  The challenge is that the predominance of this lens can leave a company vulnerable to missed opportunities and competition from companies that are not playing by the same rulebook.

Almost all established companies should leverage their core competencies and work to more efficiently address their existing customer’s needs. Succeeding in this is what keeps the lights on and your employees showing up to work each day. However, in this age of increased change and technological advancement, it is becoming more and more difficult to stay in business, let alone succeed at a rate better than average. If you don’t have an innovation strategy, work diligently to foster a culture of innovation, develop distinctive measurements, and protect the budget and people allocation against the inevitable quarter to quarter pressures of delivering bottom-line results, your company is going to have problems.

The innovation strategy should be a core element of any company’s business strategy.

 

7 reasons every company needs an innovation strategy

Reason #1: We live in an era of rapid change. Artificial intelligence, blockchain, IoT, 5G, 3D printing, intelligent automation, autonomous transportation, and low earth satellites all have the potential to redefine existing markets and create new ones. Charting a course to survive and prosper is fundamental to business success.

Reason #2: The danger of blindside attacks is very real. Disruptive innovators are leveraging technology in entirely new ways the consequences of which can be hard to recognize until it is too late (as Netflix example above). You may spend way too many resources trying to protect your market share only to wake up one morning and discover that the rules have changed, and your market no longer exists.

What is an innovation strategy and 7 reasons you need one today  Reason #3: Customers are more informed and more engaged. Customer behaviour is being shaped by technology and ready access to real-time information. Customers increasingly view innovative companies as better aligned with their needs.

Reason #4: The rate and pace of change are accelerating. As the pace of technology-driven change and shifting customer expectations accelerate, companies will need to show up in the marketplace with new products that better address customer needs on an increasingly shorter timeline.

Reason #5: technology transfer friction has fallen. Advances in one field can now quickly jump to and impact another industry. For example, digital imaging put film manufacturers out of business and personalized medicine will redefine the pharmaceutical space.

Reason #6: Skill acquisition and retention are much easier for innovative firms. Talented people want to work for firms that have a vision, are forward-thinking and do not tend towards complacency as a result of their success. They view working on something innovative as being meaningful, and get fulfillment from “inventing the future”.

Reason #7: Brand value is accelerated by innovation. Customers and investors value innovative companies. Customers believe that their purchases are more future-proofed and that their value is magnified through innovative extensions, new versions, and the network effects caused by other like-minded customers. Investors value companies that don’t sit on their laurels and are leveraging technology and the rapid and scalable value magnification enabled by it.

 

By: Douglas Heintzman, Innovation Practice Lead at The Burnie Group


What is an innovation strategy and 7 reasons you need one today


 

The 2019 Innovation Podcast and Book List

Here at The Burnie Group, even in our downtime, we like to be on top of the ideas and innovations that are dramatically changing the businesses we work with, our country, and the world we live in. With that in mind, we’ve prepared this list of our favourite innovation themed books and podcasts.

If you’re getting into that ‘back-to-school‘ study groove like we are, our innovation list will get sparks flying so you’re ready to hit the ground running this September.

The Listen List – Podcasts we love and why 

1. NPRs Hidden Brain
2. NPRs How I Built This
3. Interchange Podcast
4. Economist Radio’s Babbage – Science and Technology
5. HBR Ideacast

 

1. NPRs Hidden Brain

The 2019 Innovation Podcast and Book List

Shankar Vedantam uses science and storytelling to reveal the unconscious patterns that drive human behaviour, shape our choices and direct our relationships in Hidden Brain.

Why we like it:
The stories are fascinating, engaging, and well told. There are not only great lessons to be learned but also a way of looking at the world. This type of in-depth analysis gives us ideas about how to better engage the crowd, inspire creativity, and drive innovative thinking.

Recommended episodes:
  • Getting Unstuck – At one time or another, many of us feel stuck: in the wrong job, the wrong relationship, the wrong city – the wrong life. Psychologists and self-help gurus have all kinds of advice for us when we feel rudderless. This week on Hidden Brain, we explore a new idea, from an unlikely source: Silicon Valley. Listen here.
  • What’s Not On The Test – Smarts matter. But other factors may play an even bigger role in whether someone succeeds. This week, we speak with Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman about the skills that predict how you’ll fare in life. We’ll also look at programs that build these skills in the neediest of children – and new research that suggests the benefits of investing in kids and families can last for generations. Listen here.

 

2. NPRs How I built this

The 2019 Innovation Podcast and Book List

Guy Raz dives into the stories behind some of the world’s best-known companies. How I Built This weaves a narrative journey about innovators, entrepreneurs and idealists—and the movements they built.

Why we like it:

You really get a sense of how many different ways there are for an idea to grow. Some success is due to collaboration, some due to someone’s singular vision, some due to dogged persistence and sometimes it’s pure luck. It is great to hear stories told by inspiring entrepreneurs.

Recommended episodes:

  • Instagram: Kevin Systrom & Mike Krieger – Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger launched their photo-sharing app with a server that crashed every other hour. Despite a chaotic start, it became one of the most popular apps in the world. Listen here.
  • Patagonia: Yvon Chouinard – In 1973, Yvon Chouinard started Patagonia to make climbing gear he couldn’t find elsewhere. Over decades of growth, he has implemented a unique philosophy about business, leadership and profit. Listen here.
  • WeWork: Miguel McKelvey – In 2007, architect Miguel McKelvey convinced his friend Adam Neumann to share an office space in Brooklyn. That was the beginning of WeWork: a shared workspace for startups and freelancers looking for an inspiring environment to do their work. Today, WeWork has created a “community of creators” valued at nearly $16 billion. Listen here.
  • Bumble: Whitney Wolfe – At age 22, Whitney Wolfe helped launch Tinder, one of the world’s most popular dating apps. But a few years later, she left Tinder and filed a lawsuit against the company alleging sexual harassment. The ensuing attention from the media – and cyberbullying from strangers – prompted her to launch Bumble, a dating app where women make the first move. Today, the Bumble app has been downloaded close to 30 million times. Listen here.

 

3. Interchange Podcast – GTM Green Technology Media

The 2019 Innovation Podcast and Book List  The Interchange is a weekly podcast on the global energy transformation, hosted by Stephen Lacey and Shayle Kann. Each week, the duo provides deep insights into technology, markets, projects, company financials, mergers and acquisitions, policy changes, and market data.

Why we like it:

Transactive energy is a great passion of ours. Interchange looks at the colliding forces of energy, climate change, business, technology, policy and consumer behaviour. Every week this podcast looks at another dimension of the evolution of this essential industry that touches all of us.  The interviews are well structured and very engaging.

Recommended Episodes:

  • A Guide to Blockchain and Energy: Over the last 18 months, blockchain has evolved from an obscure concept in cryptocurrency circles into a mainstream corporate tool for “disrupting” entire industries. If you don’t have a blockchain strategy, you are not innovating hard enough. People love throwing around the term. But wait, what is it again? And why is it relevant to energy? Listen here.
  • A Blueprint for the Transactive Grid: Ryan Hanley is convinced that the distributed electric grid will create vastly more economic, security and societal value than today’s centralized system. Over the course of his career as a civil engineer — working at Pacific Gas & Electric, SolarCity, Tesla and now Advanced Microgrid Solutions — Hanley has worked to understand and extract that value. In this week’s conversation, Shayle Kann talks with Hanley about the tools at hand to re-engineer the distributed, transactive grid system. Listen here.
  • What Should We Do With All This Distributed Energy? Distributed energy resources (DERs) are going to double in the U.S. grid by 2023, according to our researchers at Wood Mackenzie. By then, we’ll likely have somewhere around 100 gigawatts of flexible capacity — made up of distributed solar, combined heat and power, electric vehicles, smart thermostats, and battery storage. Those technologies alone could amount to the current bulk power system in Texas. Today, utilities are less likely to see those DERs purely as a threat. But figuring out how to manage all those resources is still a monumental challenge. Now that we’re squarely in the middle of this doubling of DERs, how do we get markets right? This is an age-old question that many are working to answer — and we think it’s a good time revisit it. Listen here.

 

4. Economist Radio’s Babbage – Science and Technology

The 2019 Innovation Podcast and Book List  Babbage is the Economist’s weekly podcast on science and technology. It examines the innovations, discoveries and gadgetry making the news. New episodes are posted every Wednesday.

Why we like it:

It is very topical and currently relevant look at technologies impact on business people and society. It brings with it the high quality of Economist journalism and often features some very engaging interviews with newsmakers.

Recommended Episodes:

  • Babbage: Big data versus privacy: Data is becoming the world’s most valuable resource. Governments use it to monitor and control their citizens. Corporations use it to persuade consumers to buy their products. But as machine learning and algorithms advance, will people still be able to harness the power of big data without losing too much individual privacy?Listen here.
  • Babbage: Megatech: Technology in 2050: This feature-length episode dives into the technology that will shape our world over the next decades. Host Kenn Cukier and The Economist’s Executive Editor Daniel Franklin are joined by experts in artificial intelligence, cyber-security, healthcare and warfare to discuss how technology will transform many aspects of our lives. Listen here. 
  • Babbage: The automation game: How quickly will robots disrupt global industries and what will the implications be? We explore with economist Andrew McAfee at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Also, neuroscientists often compare the human brain to a computer chip, so what happened when the idea was put into practice? Listen here.

5. HBR Ideacast

The 2019 Innovation Podcast and Book List  This podcast highlights some of the best articles from the Harvard Business Review. Top leaders in business management, discuss the future of work and what innovation means from and individual and team perspective.

Why we like it:

The stories are well-conceived and very interesting.  You almost always finish an episode with one or two ideas that bounce around in your head for a number of days until you figure out how you might approach something in your own life a little differently.

Recommended Episodes:

  • 375: What the Best Decision Makers Do: Ram Charan, coauthor of “Boards that Lead,” talks about what he’s learned in three decades of helping executives make tough decisions. Listen here.
  • 645: Understanding Digital Strategy: Sunil Gupta, a professor at Harvard Business School, argues that many companies are still doing digital strategy wrong. Listen here.
  • 436: Making Good Decisions: Stanford’s Ron Howard, one of the fathers of decision analysis, explains how it’s done. Listen here.

The Must-Read List – Books we love and why

1. Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence
2. Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations
3. The Innovator’s Dilemma
4. The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators

 

1. Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence

Author: Ajay Agrawal,  Joshua Gans, Avi Goldfarb

What is it

The 2019 Innovation Podcast and Book List  From the publisher: Artificial intelligence does the seemingly impossible, magically bringing machines to life–driving cars, trading stocks, and teaching children. But facing the sea change that AI will bring can be paralyzing. How should companies set strategies, governments design policies, and people plan their lives for a world so different from what we know? In the face of such uncertainty, many analysts either cower in fear or predict an impossibly sunny future.

But in Prediction Machines, three eminent economists recast the rise of AI as a drop in the cost of prediction. With this single, masterful stroke, they lift the curtain on the AI-is-magic hype and show how basic tools from economics provide clarity about the AI revolution and a basis for action by CEOs, managers, policymakers, investors, and entrepreneurs.

When AI is framed as a cheap prediction, its extraordinary potential becomes clear:

Prediction is at the heart of making decisions under uncertainty. Our businesses and personal lives are riddled with such decisions. Prediction tools increase productivity–operating machines, handling documents, communicating with customers. Uncertainty constrains strategy. Better prediction creates opportunities for new business structures and strategies to compete. Penetrating, fun, and always insightful and practical, Prediction Machines follows its inescapable logic to explain how to navigate the changes on the horizon. The impact of AI will be profound, but the economic framework for understanding it is surprisingly simple.

Why we like it: 

Like many books, there are only a few big ideas, but those ideas are slotted into an accessible intellectual framework and brought to life with some fascinating stories.

2. Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations

Author: Thomas L Friedman

What is it?

The 2019 Innovation Podcast and Book List  From the publisher: In his most ambitious work to date, Thomas L. Friedman shows that we have entered an age of dizzying acceleration–and explains how to live in it. Due to an exponential increase in computing power, climbers atop Mount Everest enjoy excellent cell-phone service and self-driving cars are taking to the roads. A parallel explosion of economic interdependency has created new riches as well as spiralling debt burdens. Meanwhile, Mother Nature is also seeing dramatic changes as carbon levels rise and species go extinct, with compounding results.

How do these changes interact, and how can we cope with them? To get a better purchase on the present, Friedman returns to his Minnesota childhood and sketches a world where politics worked and joining the middle class was an achievable goal. Today, by contrast, it is easier than ever to be a maker (try 3-D printing) or a breaker (the Islamic State excels at using Twitter), but harder than ever to be a leader or merely “average.” Friedman concludes that nations and individuals must learn to be fast (innovative and quick to adapt), fair (prepared to help the casualties of change), and slow (adept at shutting out the noise and accessing their deepest values). With vision, authority, and wit, Thank You for Being Late establishes a blueprint for how to think about our times.

Why we like it:

It is by Tomas Friedman. Pretty much everything he writes is well researched, thought-provoking and highly relevant. In this book he looks at many of the major forces that are shaping the world we will be living in, and not only presents us with difficult challenges, but also with some pragmatic solutions.

 

3. The Innovator’s Dilemma

Author: Clayton M. Christensen

The 2019 Innovation Podcast and Book List  What is it?

From the publisher: The bestselling classic on disruptive innovation, by renowned author Clayton M. Christensen.

His work is cited by the world’s best-known thought leaders, from Steve Jobs to Malcolm Gladwell. In this classic bestseller—one of the most influential business books of all time—innovation expert Clayton Christensen shows how even the most outstanding companies can do everything right—yet still lose market leadership.

Christensen explains why most companies miss out on new waves of innovation. No matter the industry, he says, a successful company with established products will get pushed aside unless managers know how and when to abandon traditional business practices.

Offering both successes and failures from leading companies as a guide, The Innovator’s Dilemma gives you a set of rules for capitalizing on the phenomenon of disruptive innovation.

Sharp, cogent, and provocative—and consistently noted as one of the most valuable business ideas of all time—The Innovator’s Dilemma is the book no manager, leader, or entrepreneur should be without.

Why we like it:

It’s a classic. One of the most profound and useful business books ever written about innovation. It examines the difference between sustainable & disruptive innovation. The phenomenon of the blind side attacker leveraging disruptive innovation to redefine a marketplace is both fascinating and very important. As the authoritative source of much of the innovation worlds buzzwords, this is worth a read or re-read.

 

4.  The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators

Authors: Jeffrey H. Dyer, Hal B. Gregersen, Clayton M. Christensen

The 2019 Innovation Podcast and Book List  What is it?

From the publisher: You can be as innovative and impactful — if you can change your behaviours to improve your creative impact. In The Innovator’s DNA, authors Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, and bestselling author Clayton M. Christensen (The Innovator’s Dilemma, The Innovator’s Solution) build on what we know about disruptive innovation to show how individuals can develop the skills necessary to move progressively from idea to impact. By identifying behaviours of the world’s best innovators — from leaders at Amazon and Apple to those at Google, Skype, and Virgin Group — the authors outline five discovery skills that distinguish innovative entrepreneurs and executives from ordinary managers: Associating, Questioning, Observing, Networking, and Experimenting. Once you master these competencies, the authors explain how you can generate ideas, collaborate with colleagues to implement them, and build innovation skills throughout your organization to sharpen its competitive edge. That innovation advantage can translate into a premium in your company’s stock price — an innovation premium — that is possible only by building the code for innovation right into your organization’s people, processes, and guiding philosophies. Practical and provocative, The Innovator’s DNA is an essential resource for individuals and teams who want to strengthen their innovative prowess.

Why we like it:

In this follow on to “The Innovators Dilemma” and the “Innovators Solution”, the authors explain the skills required to move progressively from idea to impact. An easy read with great storytelling making great points very concisely and providing some practical guidance on how to integrate innovation into your way of looking at the world.

 


The 2019 Innovation Podcast and Book List


 

INFOGRAPHIC: Intelligent Automation Primer

In the last 10 years, automation technologies have evolved dramatically to become what we know today as Intelligent Automation. Desktop Automation—software that supports human actions by automating repetitive tasks on a local machine— was the first iteration, later evolving to Robotic Process Automation (RPA)— software that mimics human actions by automating tasks performed by humans seamlessly across various applications and systems.

Today, Intelligent Automation, built on the foundation of its predecessors, leverages traditional RPA technology and combines it with digitization and artificial intelligence to augment human intelligence and expand the realm of possibility.

Intelligent Automation can be a difficult topic to wrap one’s head around, but like a lot of things, future success starts with solid fundamentals. And if you’re looking to learn, you’ve come to the right place.

INFOGRAPHIC: Intelligent Automation Primer


INFOGRAPHIC: Intelligent Automation Primer


Intelligent Automation: 5 key benefits for your business

Intelligent Automation, what is it?

Intelligent Automation: 5 key benefits for your business  Intelligent automation is the evolution of Robotic Process Automation. At its core, Intelligent Automation is the intersect of Digitization, RPA and AI. Where RPA addresses manual, structured and repetitive tasks that can be mimicked and automated by a Bot, Intelligent Automation introduces reason and cognition to “digitize and structure” inputs so that judgement-based decision making can be completed without human intervention.

Sounds great right? But before a company can truly capitalize on intelligent automation they must first digitize their paper-based data. Why? Because AI is highly reliant on large volumes of data in order to learn and be most effective. If a part of a process is paper-based rather than digital then the capacity for AI intervention in that process is limited.

You can read more on, Intelligent Automation, Digitization, OCR and Webforms here.

You can read more on RPA here.

You can read more on Artificial Intelligence here.

 

5 benefits of Intelligent Automation

In the example in the image below you can see how intelligent automation can be leveraged to automate an entire business area, where in the past only a single process would be within the scope of robotic process automation.

Intelligent Automation: 5 key benefits for your business

With increased scope comes the opportunity to realize new benefits from your automation, including:

1. Fraud Prevention: Intelligent Automation can be leveraged in Fraud Prevention due to the use of key AI tools, such as Machine Learning. Machine learning uses a large volume of data to autonomously learn patterns, predict outcomes, and act without being explicitly programmed with specific tasks. With large amounts of user data, intelligent automation can:

  • • efficiently perform analytics and calculate risk in real-time,
  • • monitor for suspicious payments,
  • • verify transactions with greater accuracy than a human would be able to, and
  • • notify account holders of suspicious activity in order to stop fraud in its tracks

Leveraging Intelligent Automation for fraud prevention will increase trust and overall reputation with customers, ensuring that everybody from the company to the user wins.

2. Improved Customer Service: Chatbots or conversational AI are a prime example of how Intelligent Automation can improve the customer experience. Even the most basic of chatbots can handle thousands of customer inquiries, reducing call-center wait times and increasing overall customer satisfaction.

•  The AI being leveraged in this form of intelligent automation is Natural Language Processing (NLP). NLP uses statistics and learning algorithms to analyze textual information in order to understand the meaning, sentiment and intent. In the customer service context, a customer can raise a support ticket with a chatbot in the form of free text. This text is then processed with NLP to determine the level of urgency in the request, the sentiment (e.g. frustration) and then manage the interaction according to the level of severity/priority.

3. Improved Process Efficiency: Intelligent automation can dramatically reduce process handling times, significantly improving process speed and customer satisfaction. Intelligent Automation also provides enhanced process analytics and management information which can help organizations precisely pin-point process bottlenecks and areas for improvement.

•  Machine learning algorithms that Intelligent Automation solutions incorporate can gather, organize, track, analyze, report on and store valuable data. This data can then be used to improve existing operations, address and correct issues in a timely manner, accurately forecast needs and develop best practices, all ensuring greater process efficiency.

4. Improved Quality: Intelligent automation greatly helps reduce the risk of transactional errors—including erroneous data inputs, mistakes in rule application and missed steps —to improve overall data accuracy and data-driven decision making.

5.Expanded Scope: The combination of digitization, RPA and AI significantly increases the number of processes that are in scope for automation. The combination of technologies allows an organization to automate much more, or even all, of an end-to-end process.

Final word

Savvy organizations are already leveraging intelligent automation in its varied forms to gain competitive advantage by enabling easier access to relevant data, more informed decision making, and the streamlining of processes. If you wish to learn more about how you can leverage intelligent automation, don’t hesitate to contact The Burnie Group today.

 


Intelligent Automation: 5 key benefits for your business


 

PRESS RELEASE: The Burnie Group achieves second consecutive top 100 rank in 2018 Growth 500 ranking of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies

–Canadian Business unveils its 30th annual list of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies – 

PRESS RELEASE: The Burnie Group achieves second consecutive top 100 rank in 2018 Growth 500 ranking of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies  TORONTO, ONTARIO– (Sept. 13, 2018) – The Burnie Group is pleased to announce that it has ranked No. 82 in the Growth 500 ranking of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies. This is the 2nd year that The Burnie Group has ranked in the top 100, with five-year revenue growth of 1,030%. The Toronto-based management consulting firm ranked No. 2 in the category of Canada’s fastest-growing professional services companies for 2018.

“The companies on the 2018 Growth 500 are truly remarkable. Demonstrating foresight, innovation and smart management, their stories serve as a primer for how to build a successful entrepreneurial business today,” says Deborah Aarts, Growth 500 program manager. “As we celebrate 30 years of the Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies program, it’s encouraging to see that entrepreneurship is healthier than ever in this country.”

“Ranking in the Growth 500 two years in a row is a great honour, and we’re delighted to find ourselves amongst Canada’s best and brightest companies,” says David Burnie, Principal and Founder of The Burnie Group. “I believe this second nod confirms that we’re on the right track with our approach to client service and innovation. We want to thank our team and clients for making this possible once again.”

Ranking Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies by five-year revenue growth, the Growth 500—formerly known as the PROFIT 500—profiles the country’s most successful entrepreneurial businesses. The Growth 500 is produced by Canadian Business. Winners are profiled in a special Growth 500 print issue of Canadian Business (packaged with the October issue of Maclean’s magazine) and online at Growth500.ca and CanadianBusiness.com.

 

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About The Burnie Group

The Burnie Group is a Canadian-based management consulting firm that helps clients improve their businesses through the application of innovative strategy, rigorous analysis, world-class technology, and the continuous pursuit of operations excellence.  The Burnie Group specializes in Strategy, Operations, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence (AI)Blockchain, and Workforce Management (WFM). Our programs deliver measurable, transparent, and guaranteed results.

 

About the Growth 500

For 30 years, the Growth 500 ranking of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies has been Canada’s most respected and influential ranking of entrepreneurial achievement. Developed by PROFIT and now published in a special Growth 500 print issue of Canadian Business (packaged with the October issue of Maclean’s magazine) and online at Growth500.ca and CanadianBusiness.com, the Growth 500 ranks Canadian companies on five-year revenue growth. For more information on the ranking, visit Growth500.ca. 

 

About Canadian Business

Founded in 1928, Canadian Business is the longest-serving and most-trusted business publication in the country. It is the country’s premier media brand for executives and senior

business leaders. It fuels the success of Canada’s business elite with a focus on the things that matter most: leadership, innovation, business strategy and management tactics. Learn more at CanadianBusiness.com.

 

Media Contact:

Bruna Sofia Simoes

Marketing & Sales Manager

Bruna.simoes@burniegroup.com

416-909-6379

 


 

Managing people in a time of automation

Managing people in a time of automation

As the presence of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in today’s workplaces continues to grow, the topic of job security and displacement becomes increasingly important for managers to consider.

With a widely held misconception that technology is a threat to traditional workforces, employers have an imperative to consider how RPA and AI will affect people and organizational culture when determining where and how these technologies should be used in their organizations.

Regardless of how well designed an RPA or AI strategy is, if the human side of implementing change is not a focal point of that strategy, it stands to fail. This article explores some tangible ways companies can approach change management, ensuring employee buy-in.

Automation, after all, is less about replacing employees and more about streamlining work processes. It allows an employee’s role to be redefined from a focus on mundane and repetitive tasks to one that is more complex, more value-added, and ultimately more meaningful.  Managed properly, automation can lead to a more engaged workforce.

Based on our experience designing and implementing broad-scale automation programs, we’ve identified three strategies that every organization should consider when adopting RPA and AI.

 

Prepare not just for automation, but for a cultural shift

When preparing for an automation project, managers are often tasked with developing a list of processes that AI and RPA can quickly improve. During this discovery phase managers also need to blueprint the broader impact of automation on people and culture. Such a blueprint can help to navigate the transition towards automation, identifying required changes to employee mindsets and behaviours and building an effective communication and change management plan.

By positioning automation and AI as employee allies—put in place to help alleviate staff from repetitive and mundane tasks—organizations can rally employees to become champions for technological advancement. For this to work, transparency is key. Conversations reminding employees that these technologies are tools that are supposed to work for them are fundamental to ensuring a smooth transition. Employees of all skill levels are better served when they understand how and why their work landscape is changing.

 

Encourage ongoing learning and development

In typical employee onboarding, time and resources are committed to ensuring staff are trained on the skills that are required to work effectively and efficiently. For many organizations, this is where learning and development starts and ends.  However, organizations that thrive know that ongoing learning is essential to both employee and company growth.

Automation and AI provide an excellent opportunity for organizations to re-invest in the skills and capabilities of their employees.  With the capacity that automation and AI unlock, time can be invested in training employees on more advanced skills.  Staff can be redeployed to work on more value-added activities, including customer-facing interactions and revenue-generating initiatives.  Automation and AI initiatives also require employee oversight and support, and current Subject Matter Experts are often well positioned to transition into an Automation or AI Centre of Excellence.  With a thoughtful approach to training and upskilling employees and designing new value-added roles, a transition to automation and/or AI can lead to a more rewarding work environment that motivates staff and boosts morale and engagement in the workplace.

A Burnie Group client recently illustrated how to positively engage employees while embracing automation. In addition to clearly communicating their automation strategy, our client gave employees the opportunity to be trained in automation core skills and join the automation Centre of Excellence to participate in the automation implementation.  Employees were also encouraged to identify automation opportunities in their work area, with the commitment that capacity released through RPA would be repurposed towards growth initiatives in the organization.   This approach made employees feel that they were a part of the automation transformation and resulted in a very positive attitude towards the change.

As AI and RPA become more prevalent in the workplace, employees that are equipped with future-proof skills will be less fearful of automation and better prepared to work alongside this technology.

 

Position your company as an innovator

People want to work for organizations that support and empower their employees, and automation can be a tool that enables this. An organization’s investment in technology can help position it as an innovator in its field, helping it to attract and retain top talent.

When organizations embrace innovation and build it into their “DNA” to —continuously reinvent work,  they reduce barriers to change and create an innovative culture where everyone wins.

One Burnie Group client implemented Robotic Process Automation as part of a broader strategic focus on innovation.  With innovation being core to the values of the company, RPA was viewed as a natural fit.  Rather than challenging the implementation and resisting change, employees sought ways to build RPA into their day-to-day work and leverage it to spend more of time with customers and on growth-focused initiatives.

 

Conclusion

Introducing AI and RPA into the workplace is no small undertaking. While most leaders address the effectiveness and efficiency gains that these technologies can deliver, truly successful leaders take a broader view to consider the best way to engage employees in the change.

Successful companies take the time to understand how automation can complement the work of employees and then invest in building a workplace where people and automation live in harmony.


Managing people in a time of automation


 By: Jenya Doudareva, Senior Associate

INFOGRAPHIC: Demystifying Machine Learning

Machine Learning is the science of finding patterns in data and using those patterns to make predictions. It is the process by which, over time, machines (computers) are enabled without explicit programming, to learn, grow, and change autonomously through real-world interactions.  It is a subsect of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

AI refers to a computer system’s ability to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, communication, decision-making, planning, learning, and the ability to move and manipulate objects.

The infographic below explores the different applications of Machine Learning in a variety of industries, to learn more about AI and Machine Learning opportunities in your industry, please contact us for a free no-obligation discussion. We look forward to hearing from you.

 

INFOGRAPHIC: Demystifying Machine Learning


INFOGRAPHIC: Demystifying Machine Learning


PRESS RELEASE: The Burnie Group receives Blue Prism Silver Partner Award in Robotic Process Automation

PRESS RELEASE: The Burnie Group receives Blue Prism Silver Partner Award in Robotic Process Automation  TORONTO, ONTARIO– (June 1, 2018) – This latest achievement builds upon an already deep and long-standing relationship with Blue Prism. One of North America’s first Blue Prism partners, The Burnie Group helps clients transform their operations through the delivery of robotic process automation, augmented by thoughtful business process redesign and performance management. This approach provides substantial cost savings, streamlines and simplifies operations, and eliminates waste, errors and the risk of fraud.

“The Burnie Group is honoured to be recognized as a Blue Prism Silver Partner,” said David Burnie, Principal and Founder of The Burnie Group. “We constantly strive to be at the forefront of what’s new, and what stands to have incredible influence. We were the first consulting firm in Canada to adopt and embrace Robotic Process Automation (RPA), and we’ve been very successful in building this practice, this award is a testament to that.”

Recently, The Burnie Group supported ATB Financial in achieving Blue Prism’s 2018 ROM Excellence Award. An accolade presented to the company who has been judged to have achieved the best performance through implementing the Robotic Operating Model that leverages object reusability, appropriate controls and organizational design to maximize business benefits and scalability.

With the demand for RPA and The Burnie Group’s services continuing to increase, together The Burnie Group and Blue Prism are helping clients deploy digital workforces across North America.

 

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About The Burnie Group

The Burnie Group is a Canadian-based management consulting firm that helps clients improve their businesses through the application of innovative strategy, rigorous analysis, world-class technology, and the continuous pursuit of operations excellence.  The Burnie Group specializes in Strategy, Operations, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Blockchain, and Workforce Management (WFM). Our programs deliver measurable, transparent, and guaranteed results.

 

 

Media Contact:

Bruna Sofia Simoes

Marketing & Sales Manager

Bruna.simoes@burniegroup.com

416-909-6379

 


 

INFOGRAPHIC: 22 Benefits of RPA

This infographic is a window into the world of Robotic Process Automation. If you are interested in exploring RPA opportunities in your industry or want to know more about implementing RPA in your organization, please contact us for a free no-obligation discussion. We look forward to hearing from you.

INFOGRAPHIC: 22 Benefits of RPA


INFOGRAPHIC: 22 Benefits of RPA


29 Cutting Edge Applications of Artificial Intelligence

29 Cutting Edge Applications of Artificial Intelligence  Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the theory and development of computer systems that can perform tasks that normally require human intelligence. These tasks include visual perception, speech recognition, decision making, and language translation. Systems capable of performing such tasks are steadily transitioning from research laboratories into industry usage.

AI technology is unique in that it is flexible in application. It can be used to improve processes, enhance interactions, and solve problems that, until recently, could only be performed by humans. AI’s advanced abilities include natural language processing (NLP), machine learning, machine perception, and enhanced analytics.

The list below details 29 cutting-edge applications made possible by AI technology.

 

NATURAL LANGUAGE PROCESSING

Natural language processing (NLP) is a sub-category of AI that attempts to bridge the gap between human and computer communication. AI-enabled systems such as IBM’s Watson use NLP to understand and respond to the nuances of human language. This allows for more accurate analysis of data sets and communication of insights.

  1. Customer interaction chatbots — Chatbots are computer programs that are commonly used to interact with customers by audio or text. Conversica, for example, is a virtual sales assistant that communicates persistently and politely with prospective sales leads. Conversica uses email to engage, qualify, and follow-up with leads, allowing the sales team to focus their efforts on closing deals.
  2. Financial chatbots — In the financial industry, chatbots such as aLVin are used to interact with brokers. They can answer questions, understand intent, and direct brokers to their desired products and information.
  3. Virtual assistants — Beyond chatbots, AI can power more complicated virtual assistants that can recognize client needs and complete various tasks. Expensify‘s virtual assistant, Concierge, assists in the automation of expense reports and travel arrangements for companies. It can inform clients of real-time price changes and can even file receipts on their behalf.
  4. Communication systems – AI-powered communication systems can also be used to manage relations between peers and stakeholders. CrystalKnows, a personality detection software, uses NLP to evaluate LinkedIn accounts and develop a profile of how to most effectively speak to, work with, or sell to an individual. Crystal can even draft emails to anyone based on the preferred tone suggested by his or her online presence.
  5. Legal assistants — The language processing capabilities of AI assistants can be tailored to a specific industry. LegalRobot’s AI assistants are designed to review legal documents and make suggestions for language clarity and strength.
  6. Cognitive retail – Virtual assistant capabilities can be integrated with other customer relationship management products to provide in-person levels of service via online platforms. The North Face‘s personal web-shopper, XPS, uses NLP to understand customer need as would a human representative. It then uses machine learning to make informed product recommendations based on customer history, location, and other data.
  7. Personal assistants – AI can also be used on a personal device to simplify daily tasks. Gluru technology, for example, is used to power a task management application that uses NLP to analyze a user’s conversational data, such as their email. This app can identify tasks, generate a personalized to-do list, and even provide actionable buttons to complete each task.
  8. Web speech – New language-based technological advancements in AI can improve the web navigation and searching experience. These web speech APIs integrate voice recognition technology, syntactical analysis, and machine learning to seamlessly convert voice to text and vice versa. This click- and typing-free internet interaction can improve information accessibility for those with a disability or low technological acumen.

 

MACHINE LEARNING

Machine learning is an application of AI that allows systems to process data and learn to improve the performance of a specific task without explicit programming.  Deep learning is a form of machine learning that mimics human learning patterns to gain an understanding of unstructured data sets and generate intelligent decisions.

  1. Medical decision making — Deep-learning programs such as Enlitic can optimize physician decision making by analyzing a patient’s past medical history, diagnostic information, and symptoms to provide actionable insights. These programs learn as they process data, improving their ability to identify diseases and provide treatment planning.
  2. Healthcare analytics — Deep learning can also be used to compile, analyze, and interpret collaborative data. Flatiron, for instance, has developed a cloud-based platform for healthcare professionals that compiles insights, empirical data, and patient experiences to improve oncological care on a real-time basis.
  3. Bioinformatics – In the field of bioinformatics, scientists use AI-software to identify patterns in large data sets, such as sequenced genomes and proteomes. This analysis can help in the development of new drugs to tackle diseases by determining which proteins are encoded by a certain gene. Atomnet is a deep-learning technology that analyzes the structure of proteins known to cause disease and designs drugs accordingly.
  4. Emotional detection —Emotional detection systems powered by AI can detect human emotions without visual input. Researchers at MIT have developed EQ Radio, a system that learns to identify human emotions based on heartbeat data collected by wireless signals. This technology may one day be used by smart homes to detect if a resident is experiencing a heart attack.
  5. Fraud detection — Fraud prevention has always been a major challenge for the financial industry. PayPal and other eCommerce companies have started to use deep-learning fraud-detection algorithms to monitor customers’ digital transactions and identify suspicious behaviours. A study by LexisNexis found that this deep-learning approach to security has reduced PayPal’s fraud rate to 0.32% of revenue, a 1% improvement over the industry average.
  6. Cyber Security — AI-enabled cybersecurity programs analyze and organize internal network data to identify potential threats. The security program RecordedFuture uses machine learning and NLP to contextualize information and provide actionable analyses.
  7. Procurement optimization – Companies can use AI internally to enhance business operations such as procurement. Tamr, a data unification software, uses machine learning to clean, analyze, and sort procurement data. It identifies savings opportunities, bundles spending across business units, and exposes supplier risk.
  8. Customer interactions — While NLP allows virtual assistants to interact easily with customers, deep learning allows them to locate and provide the desired information. The AI model DigitalGenius analyzes historical customer service transcripts in order to recognize successful customer interactions. This allows the model to predict meta-data for new cases and provide suggestions for automated customer responses.
  9. Optimized gaming — The gaming industry, previously focused on the level distinctions of “easy,” “medium,” or “hard,” is now using AI technology to develop self-optimizing and -evaluating games.  These new AI-powered games keep players engaged by continuously adjusting difficulty and strategy to suit player ability.
  10. Military planning — In a military setting, AI can be used to increase deployment efficiency. Autonomous machines (including drones and satellites) share data in real time to develop actionable strategies. The U.S. military AI system JADE evaluates historical data combines information with learned reasoning and presents suggestions to execute large-scale plans in minimal time.

 

MACHINE PERCEPTION

Machine perception is the ability of a system to simulate the human perception of the world. AI uses machine perception to extract information from different data sources. Computer vision is a type of machine perception that allows AI to extract information from images.

  1. Medical imaging — Computer vision represents a huge technological advancement for medical imaging and preventative care. The diagnostic program Zebra Medical Vision collects and analyzes medical scans for various clinical identifiers. It then accesses a database of millions of scans, enabling it to provide critical information such as the location of a tumour or a patient’s risk of cardiovascular disease.
  2. Manufacturing — The manufacturing sector is increasingly turning to robotics to speed up repetitive tasks. AI-enabled robots use computer vision to complete tasks and to adapt to changing environmental conditions, broadening the types of tasks available to robots and preventing costly mistakes on the assembly line. Fanuc‘s Gakushu robots use computer vision and a machine learning software to collect and evaluate data for path, speed, and task optimization in aerospace manufacturing.
  3. Service industry – Some AI-enabled robots can not only understand human language but can recognize human emotions. Using computer vision, Softbank‘s humanoid robot Pepper can interpret facial expressions as human emotions and generate responses accordingly. Pepper can also recognize and remember individual faces and preferences. It is primarily used as a greeter in Japanese office buildings, restaurants, banks, and stores.
  4. Financial industry — In the financial industry, AI programs can learn to identify potential high-yield customers, to recognize fraud, and even to forecast changes in stock trends.  To further reduce fraud, the financial application Face++ uses computer vision for facial recognition to secure users’ financial transactions.
  5. Autonomous delivery – Companies are increasingly using AI for commercial navigation purposes. Autonomous delivery systems, such as Amazon‘s delivery drones and Domino‘s Robotic Unit, use computer vision to efficiently navigate obstacles and optimize routes. Beyond commercial delivery, Matternet’s autonomous drone network in Switzerland aims to reduce medical testing times by flying diagnostic materials between hospitals and labs.
  6. Transit safety — AI technology is paving the way for autonomous cars and accident-free transit systems. The combination of deep learning and computer vision allows cars to observe and safely interact with the surrounding environment. Road safety can be further increased by AI-enabled navigation systems, which alert drivers to potential accidents and suggest alternative navigation routes.
  7. Geospatial analytics — Geospatial analytics use computer vision to gather and compare satellite imagery with historical data in order to develop insights. Using these insights, AI-enabled satellites can track economic trends from space. Orbital Insight, for example, predicts retail sales based on satellite images of retail store parking lots.
  8. Childcare — AI devices use computer vision to recognize faces and navigate around obstacles, but a new Google patent suggests they can even be used to provide childcare.  Google’s AI babysitter system learns to recognize different features of a home and to differentiate between family members. The system can recognize when a child has been left alone for too long, or has wandered dangerously close to a socket, and alerts the parents accordingly.

 

PREDICTIVE ANALYTICS

Predictive analytics are used by programs to analyze historical data in order to predict future outcomes. When combined with AI platforms, analytic ability increases in speed, scale, and application.

    1. Marketing — Some predictive models can be used to analyze consumer data and inform marketing decisions. Magnetic, for instance, can predict the most effective advertisement to present a particular consumer and can choose to present the selected advertisement to the consumer without human supervision.
    2. Data extraction — Data-extraction programs use AI to analyze and extract specific information from documents. Xtracta, for example, allows various retail applications to extract data from receipts. This information, combined with predictive analytics, generates useful statistical reports and relevant buying suggestions for the application user.
    3. Social Network Analytics — Social networks can provide valuable marketing data, but also produce linguistically complicated datasets. In order to produce usable information, user profiles must be semantically analyzed using NLP. Companies can then use predictive algorithms to identify a customer’s preferences and web navigation patterns in order to provide targeted web advertising.

Development of AI technologies is actively being encouraged through projects like Soar—a cognitive architecture project aimed at developing computational building blocks for intelligent agents—and OpenCog—an open-source software project intended to create a framework for artificial general intelligence. Through such collaboration, AI capabilities continue to advance, thus expanding application potential.

Is your organization ready for AI? Read more about our AI consulting capabilities here. 


29 Cutting Edge Applications of Artificial Intelligence


 By: Jenya Doudareva, Associate & Lokesh Patil, Associate