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Round up of latest #innerventures trends

As always there lots going on and the last few weeks have brought some interesting new announcements and great stories from the trenches. 

#innerventuresupdate

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Diary of an Accidental Intrapreneur

accidental intrapreneurI originally wrote this post on LinkedIn but think this site is a better home considering the subject matter so just bringing it over.

A lot has been written about what constitutes an intrapreneur and why its so important. I should know, I’m writing a book about the subject and have been researching it openly for some time now (lots of onward links in there). I believe I am also one but not necessarily by design. I happen to have become one through the series of choices I have made in my working life and some serendipitous circumstances.

So what I thought to do in this post is document my experiences that have led me to believe I am an intrapreneur (not in chronological order nor in terms of importance). You could also see this as my view on what constitutes the perfect intrapreneur. What do you think?

  1. Start and run a business. Strictly speaking this is not a prerequisite if you have already done something like it (intrapreneurial) inside a large organisation. But I’d say it would make you a far more well rounded intrapreneur if you have. I’ve run my own business for 6 years (before joining Yammer, a startup itself) so appreciate the startups perspective intimately.
  2. Work with startups. I’ve also been a mentor at Microsoft Ventures for the last 18 months and before that at Seedcamp. There is nothing quite like the smell of startup first thing in the morning and at accelerators like MSVentures and Seedcamp you get 24 hours of it with insight and inspiration that is infectious. Good for bringing back to the mother ship.
  3. Experience in large organisations.  Once more this is not a prerequisite but the work of the true intrapreneur is most likely to find roots in the soil of a large organisation. I’ve worked successfully with some of Microsoft’s largest accounts and have always worked with or in some of the worlds largest brands. In B2B and B2C and in tech, consumer electronics and FMCG industries. So I also understand well the corporate’s perspective and it is a beast you need to be able to navigate.
  4. See innovation as your true north. I’m a huge fan of innovation and keep coming back to it time and again – it has me in its thrall. I see startups and entrepreneurs as the life blood of innovation success but not exclusively – as long as larger organisations start to rumble like them. I also think innovation needs constant innovation. The hacking approach is currently an interesting take on how innovation can be approached and I’ve helped Tesco run a global hackathon very successfully (see video with my take on this).
  5. Be a maker/inventor/tinkerer. I am always involved in developing innovative products or services, either helping develop them in house in large corporates, on my own (we built a social software platform in my own business) or helping others. I led a team hack in last years Microsoft One Week hackathon that won several internal awards. The desire to create is ever present.
  6. Stakeholder engagineer. You need to be comfortable working with the people in the organisation that will make things happen for your initiative – that is very often senior executives. A recent example I have was not inside the organisation but with a large banking customer. We closed a $30m deal that I got the ball rolling on with Yammer 18 months prior. I built a relationship with the CEO who spearheaded the Yammer drive and was instrumental in explosive Yammer growth. I then managed to get him to speak at events for us presenting to other senior execs.
  7. Able to market and sell. You need to have excellent writing skills – I am an avid blogger for instance and now most recently, an eBook author. This is useful for outreach efforts (through internal social networks for instance) to scale reach and create awareness. You also should be able to drive thought leadership and content publishing efforts by teams on platforms like WordPress. I build a WordPress site anytime I need to promote something (like my book) because they are so versatile as communication platforms. On the sell side, I’m also recognised amongst peers as a leading practitioner of a cold calling technique to reach members of the business outside of current relationships. The target is to broaden relationships and reach business decision makers that will take ownership and drive adoption of technologies or initiatives in the organisation. Success rates are routinely close to 100%
  8. Be collaborative. Just as it is important to engage senior executives, so too is it important to connect with the working community around you, especially those effected by your initiative or can help with it. I am good at building and managing virtual communities and spin one of these up too every time I am working on a new project or initiative that could do with the help of the crowd.
  9. Customer oriented. I am very Druckerian in that I believe the sole purpose of business is to create and retain a customer, powered by innovation. I believe you can have customers on the inside too – the different stakeholders and community of “users” you need to target with your initiative. I’ve written about this before. The last few years of my experience have been focused on customer success – the art of making the recipients of your technology, service or product, successful in its use.
  10. Perform and make an impact. Your initiative needs to hit the rubber at some stage. Sometimes this also requires performance in a day job. My performance over the last two years has been well above expectations terms of bonuses awarded but I still managed to find time to build out initiatives whether successful or not. I recently updated my Resume (pdf on DropBox) focused on key skills and impact in them if you are interested.

#intrapreneur

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Customer Success Management – Experience Hacking in the Subscription Age

Having been a customer success manager and advising startups on the practice you would probably expect me to be trumpeting its value. You’d expect it from Gainsight too, the customer success company: Information Services, the Subscription Economy, and the Value of Customer Success.

And what about the subscription economy itself – whats in that? According to a 2014 report by The Economist Intelligence Unit, 80 percent of customers are demanding new consumption models including subscribing, sharing, and leasing — anything except actually buying a product outright.

I found that in a post by the poster child for the subscription economy, the CEO of Zuora, Tien Tzuo: The Subscription Economy – A Business Transformation. Zuora offers subscription billing, commerce and finance solutions for the subscription economy.

Experience has been an Economy too at least since 1999, when the seminal book from Joseph Pine and James Gilmore was published: The Experience Economy.

I’ll leave it up to you to decide. In the meantime, I put this slide deck together for some of the Microsoft Ventures B2B startups I mentor based on my experience over the years. It’s my take (including much from others) on what it is and what makes a good program.

#workingoutloud #customer-success

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How old banks are learning from a new breed of tech start-ups

I gave this (i.e. the Fintech scene) special coverage in a separate section of my trend report.

Banks around the world are realising that in the rapidly developing world of smartphones and apps they are at risk of falling behind in the innovation race. Fresh-faced financial technology start-ups (fintechs) are coming up with new mobile-first services – payments, loans, money transfers, digital currencies – and threatening to steal customers, particularly younger ones.

This is why many old banks have been flirting with younger models in an effort to stay hip. But are such apparently mismatched relationships doomed to failure?

From the BBC website.

#innerventuresupdate #fintech

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Round up of latest #innerventures trends

In this post I’m changing the format slightly by tagging the title with a different hashtag (which was partly for Twitter but had other purposes too). Instead of intrapreneurtrends that I used before, its now the new name of this site, its URL, the new hashtag I’m tracking on Twitter (see sidebar) and my new book/trend report which I’m about to publish – more on that soon. This is also the last of the research tags I’ll be using on this site that tagged all the new articles and reports I found to include in the book and started with this post.

Here are the more prominent, recent articles below – these and others have all been included in the trend report. Once the trend report is published I’ll  keep tracking new articles and the like differently. For anyone interested, I curate content first on Flipboard in the INNERVENTURES magazine there which has a slightly broader set of articles – you can subscribe to the magazine if interested.

#research

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What Big Companies Can Learn from the Success of the Unicorns

From an article on the Harvard Business Rreview, the authors carried out a systematic analysis of the 146 unicorns identified by The Wall Street Journal. Thanks to this analysis, we identified four features that are common to pretty much all the unicorns and which we believe helps explain why they have been so successful. Unicorns are:

  1. Small in size
  2. Led by serial entrepreneurs
  3. Financed by VC firms
  4. Narrowly focused

They call this unique approach adopted by unicorns lightning innovation. How can companies achieve the same success:

To realize this potential, established companies will need to fundamentally revisit their business models and cultures. Some of the big players do seem to recognize this — it may be one of Google’s motivations for creating its Alphabet structure, in 2015, splitting itself into smaller and more agile units. In a digital world, learning to fail fast is the key to getting big fast, and we can expect the big, structured companies of today to take a leaf from Google’s book and start to turn themselves into portfolios of unicorns.

#research

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Round up of latest #intrapreneur trends

  1. How to partner with a larger company when you’re a startup
  2. Why investors love spin-off startups
  3. The struggle with adapting the lean startup to the corporate environment
  4. Big Companies Must Embrace Intrapreneurship To Survive
  5. Big Companies Should Collaborate with Startups
  6. Driving a culture of innovation with entrepreneurial thinking now being pushed at University
  7. How Large Companies Can Act Like Startups
  8. European tech startups are well advised to get closer to corporate giants in the pursuit of growth

#research

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Corporate Innovation Trends – Report from CB Insights

The blurb for the report says it all:

The life of an S&P 500 company is rapidly declining and increasingly, the risks to these companies comes from an armada of startups and not a giant incumbent competitor. We dig into how corporations can use startups to innovate faster and how to make the important build, buy or partner decision.

Here it is. #research

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More #intrapreneur trends being led by financial services

From this article on the Financial Times (you may find its behind a paywall): Axa chief excited by technological change

The chief executive of Europe’s second-biggest insurer by market capitalisation says that the industry is dealing with technological change unevenly. “That is great news,” he adds, explaining that it allows more nimble operators to win business from those slower to embrace change. “Everyone is threatened . . . and it creates more fluidity in market shares.”
He wants to put Axa at the forefront of the change. A bewildering array of initiatives is already under way — research labs in Silicon Valley and Shanghai, a €200m venture capital fund to invest in external start-ups, a new internal incubator fund called Kamet with €100m to invest, partnerships with LinkedIn and internal data analysis competitions to name just a few.

#research

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Round up of latest #intrapreneur trends

Some very interesting articles over the last few weeks – here they are:

#research