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Growing an ecosystem of innovation

Kiumars Hamidian
Leader of the Innovation Process

“BearingPoint is at the heart of innovation” – this expresses exactly how we position our firm and stresses how essential innovation is to the development of our firm. It is the fuel for the adaptive intelligence and experimental attitude we need for our clients as they look for solutions in an ever-changing market environment.

Innovation does not boil down to initiatives and methodologies – it is a social process and a mind-set that needs to be embedded in a firm’s culture. It requires a proven and structured approach that encourages people to participate without over-engineered micromanagement limiting the experimental flow. With innovation as an indispensable component of our DNA, we embrace conflict and ambiguity to be adaptive challengers.

Innovation cannot be planned or predicted because it is about the curiosity to explore the near future. It happens in an environment without barriers for the best impulse and where people can fully express themselves in an authentic, honest, and candid way – without any fear of experimentation. It spreads in networks that are open to ideas from the edges, inside and outside the organization. In short, innovation needs the right ecosystem to flourish.

Over the past two years, BearingPoint has made great progress in developing such an ecosystem. Step by step, we liberated the innovative potential of our consultants. Innovation at BearingPoint is not just a moment, it is a movement and it always takes time to establish an innovative culture and mind-set. We believe that innovation requires co-anticipation within an ecosystem of different players. Innovation is created through hard work, open discussions, new assignments, and the courage to repeatedly step out of the comfort zone.

In this spirit, we established processes and governance structures leading to two Shark Tank events in 2016 to both evaluate and appreciate highly innovative ideas. Furthermore, three innovation campaigns on smart cities, HoloLens, and robotics really caught the interest of our employees and generated a lot of contributions and discussions.

Our innovation platform, BE an Innovator, is clear evidence of our internal capabilities. Since the launch of the platform two years ago, more than 400 ideas have been submitted. Our recent activities have also led to the creation of 50 Accelerators, technology packages we designed to produce rapid results for our clients. All our hard work is very highly regarded by analysts and clients, who reassure us that we are on the right track.

However, our ecosystem of innovation doesn’t stop at our company walls. With our Ventures unit, we are driving the development of innovations and the creation and financing of start-ups in cooperation with clients. Investments in and cooperation with start-ups expand our consulting and solutions portfolio to develop new offerings at start-up speed. We jointly develop innovative ideas with clients in an independent and dedicated environment. In 2016, a cutting-edge technology in the blockchain space grew out of this breeding ground.

Our efforts in 2017 will be focused on reinvigorating innovation and making our ideas more tangible. Some clients are tired of PowerPoint slides highlighting our strategy, approach, or references. Innovation labs will enable us to practically design together with our clients and to lead them on their path of innovation.

We will engage with our clients to develop solutions for their challenges in a collaborative and creative way, e.g. by applying design thinking, forming brain trusts, and using many other techniques. We will also foster our collaboration with start-ups, incubators, and new kinds of networks on a global scale to enrich our portfolio and to ensure that our clients sharpen their competitive edge through innovation fueled by BearingPoint.

I am convinced that our innovation efforts will soon enable us to become recognized thought leaders in the field of innovation. This will be key to attracting the right talent, raising our brand recognition, as well as achieving our vision of generating one billion euros in revenues by 2020. We’ve started a journey, not a revolution, but a step-by-step evolution.