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  • Lou Killeffer

Go Big or Go Home? A Report from CINONYC

A Report from CINONYC 2015

Two weeks ago I joined several hundred others at the Sheraton Times Square Hotel for this year’s edition of the Chief Innovation Officer Summit, New York.

The agenda showcased a host of diverse and compelling speakers including, among many other notables, GE’s Chief Scientist, NASA’s Chief Knowledge Officer, WalmartLabs Innovation Lead, Gap’s Dean of Innovation, and Samsung’s Chief Innovation Officer. As you’d expect, several powerful threads and themes emerged across the two days: the continued emergence and application of design thinking; corporate CEOs growing desire for adjacent innovation; suggestions on how large companies can engage with entrepreneurial thinking; how to implement best-in-class innovation practices; and even thinking and acting like a start-up within a global multi-national, all while exploiting the inherent benefits of size and scale…Needless to say, it was an eventful and exhilarating forty-eight hours.

But for me, Kobi Gershoni, Co-Founder and Chief Research Officer of Signals Group, stole the show on day one as he articulated the real world impact of big data on innovation. Net, big data has arrived and is sitting at the big table both promising and providing extraordinary benefits with vast implications for corporate America (and, it would appear, traditional management consulting) and our world at large.

Before getting to Kobi’s story, and acknowledging we’re all, to one degree or another, known by the company we keep, it’s interesting to note that Signals is already working with P&G, J&J, and 3M; as well as Nestlé, Novartis, Bayer, and GE. And if that weren’t enough, they’re also venture-backed by Sequoia Capital, while Deloitte has them 34th on their list of 2015’s Technology Fast 50.

Clearly Signals is on to something, and something’s definitely going on in the data marketplace, something big. Just consider two of the observations from Kobi’s address:

  • 90% of the world’s data was created in the last two years (Source: Bain), and

  • 90% of CEOs say big data analytics is now one of their three top priorities (Source: Accenture)

Kobi says he and his Signals team saw the crying need to reduce risk and increase success in designing and launching new products. Ok, welcome to my world. But these folks believe big data, appropriately harnessed, can provide evidence-based intelligence that speeds time to insight, and given the iterative nature of innovating, create far better end-to-end decision making overall. Decision making based on real world knowledge and understanding. Imagine that!

As natural born problem solvers, Kobi and his team, many of whom are former intelligence officers (yes, military intelligence officers from no less than the Israel Defense Forces) and their data geek colleagues, believe the right combination of tech, data, and subject matter expertise can solve innovation’s challenges. So they created Signals Group, and launched a unique platform capable of managing different streams and types of data, performing analyses, and linking the mined insights to product development decisions. Enabling corporate innovators to build better, more successful products by sourcing and squeezing a wide array of external big data into actionable intelligence. You can see the whole presentation here:

Indeed, revealing the consumer narrative is no longer restricted to thirty tired people recruited to respond behind a two-way mirror after work in a strip mall. Or the 300 or even 3,000 people canvassed in a Usage & Attitude study published so far after the fact that it’s out of date when its three pounds of tabs and “findings” hit your desk with a resounding thud. No, Kobi’s talking about, hell, 300,000 or 500,000 people accessed in broad swaths in something close to real time based on their independent behavior and their own published commentary on their experience. What’s more, Signals combines this consumer data with current information on products, technologies, scientific innovations – indeed, all the varied footprints that companies leave behind online – to square the circle and create truly holistic insights.

Just imagine if you will the power this grants innovators in understanding their consumers and their markets: its’ potential to power insights and produce real innovations. All by shaping and then validating informed hypotheses with real, and really big, data. And apparently it works.

So the time for big data’s application to innovation has arrived. Its’ evidence based insights can help us all select the right platforms, isolate the very best ideas, differentiate our offerings from the competition, and my personal favorite – help lead large organizations through demonstrable results to become more agile and alive to opportunity. Success breeding confidence, breeding more success.

Go big or go home (gbgh!) of course means going all in, being committed in some express fashion to your efforts and their outcome. We may well have entered the point where it’s application means far more than any one or all of us together can fully imagine…

If you’d like to learn more about Kobi and what his teams are up to take at hard look at the Signals Group:

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