Innovate or Die
By Mark LaLondeFeatures Expert Advice Opinion
There are a host of variables that help organizations succeed – having a great product or service, knowledgeable and dedicated staff, competitive pricing are but a few. Increasingly, the ability to innovate is a key element to corporate success and survival – either to address a challenge or create new opportunities.
The broad investigation and security industry is not immune from the need to innovate. A current example of this is playing out now as investigation clients shift to the use of online, open source intelligence as an investigative avenue.
Historically, commercial clients who hired investigative companies expected information to come from field interviews, surveillance, and searches of court or property records. Now, there is an increasing client expectation that investigators will also be skilled in searching social media and other open source intelligence resources. To be competitive, investigators now need new skills, tools and the knowledge required to access hidden online information, transform data in to useful intelligence, and at the same time do so within the context of evolving privacy legislation.
In this case, investigators who have adapted to new types of evidence and how it is collected are more likely to be successful.
Shifts like these can drive corporate innovation and the creation of new services for new markets for investigators. Other companies are driven to innovate in an effort to differentiate themselves from competitors, to enter new markets or exploit new opportunities.
Looking around the Canadian security and investigation industry, examples of innovation abound. Clients can now access their data via security portals operated by their vendor. Companies go in to detail on their comprehensive approaches to client data security, recruitment, selection and training. Others trumpet their quality assurance programs and ‘green’ approaches to business. But are these truly examples of innovation, or just ways of keeping up with shifts in the global corporate landscape?
Certainly, innovation includes adapting to changes in the operating environment or changing the business model as required to deliver new or improved services and products. But what does innovation look like in practice in our industry here in Canada and other countries? How many leaders and companies have the capacity, motivation and skills to take an idea, transform it in to a strategy and then carry through on execution? Are they able to structure, organize and encourage innovation? What about the ability and willingness of senior management to champion innovative ideas that come from front line and supervisory personnel?
What innovative practices are you and your team adopting around strategy, core processes, personnel, customer service, integration of new technology or radically new services and markets? As you innovate, what new skills will your team require, new back office supports and systems or new management models? How will your approach to innovation compare to competitors, and will it match current or emerging client needs? Who are your internal champions for innovation and what measures are in place to help them succeed?
If you cannot or will not innovate, what will you do when the largest consumer of your services or a competitor radically changes the marketplace? Will you survive?
Mark LaLonde is Director, International Operations at Xpera Risk Mitigation & Investigation.
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