Seeing Innovation Development As A Catalyst For Customer Career Growth


Guy, a recognized industry thought leader, is the president of SmartSense, IoT solutions for the enterprise

Technology solution providers have a unique ability to not only provide value for shareholders, employees and business customers but also influence the career trajectory of the individual professional adopters and users of their solutions.

Look at it this way: If the technology that solution providers offer is truly transformative to the business processes and outcomes of those who leverage it, the individuals who make the decision to deploy the technology and subsequently realize the positive business outcomes, on time and on budget, will be promoted by their employers and esteemed by their peers.

The ability to lead innovation and manage change is a key skill required to capture the attention of senior-level executives. Successful technology adoption is a critical component of leading change management initiatives. As technology providers communicate all the ways their solutions provide value, they should refrain from failing to publicize the positive downstream effects that their innovations have on their users’ professional success.

Paths To Career Growth

During my career, I have seen many examples of users being promoted by leveraging technology solutions to elevate their status within their organization, including people who now have C-level roles. Responsibly managing new capabilities sends a strong signal to supervisors and other leadership about an employee’s ability to realize business advantages while implementing complex projects on time and on budget.

Over and over again, I’ve witnessed people create their own pillars of empowerment that propel them forward because they innovate by trying new things. Even when innovation fails to deliver, people have the opportunity to learn from the outcome and improve for next time.

Another path to career growth is what I call “vendor-ism.” Although rarer than internal promotion, vendor-ism is the act of switching from technology user and industry expert to technology vendor. Some individuals see so much success as implementers of a solution that they become prime candidates to work for the technology vendor themselves.

For example, an operational leader at a retailer or healthcare organization who is responsible for safety and compliance may build such a case study-worthy instance of solution operationalization that the solution provider recruits the individual to help its other customers realize similar outcomes. Vendor-ism is a fantastic way for individuals who desire to switch careers to do so in a way that continues their upward trajectory.

Obviously, promotion can come from big wins and sustained successes, but career advancement can also come from failures.

The innovation process goes like this: innovate, pilot, succeed or fail, learn, innovate, pilot, succeed or fail. It’s a continuous loop. Professionals who engage in this type of productive experimentation will achieve greater levels of career success as the insights they glean from the process propel them forward.

All About The People

My mantra is and always will be, “It’s all about the people.” In the context of this mindset, there are wide-reaching aspects of how you define business success.

One of the key aspects of fostering a business environment with positive externalities is to treat employees as adults—refraining from micromanaging, providing adequate time off, facilitating work-life balance and generally trusting them to do their jobs and deliver what they’ve promised to accomplish based on clear KPIs.

This trust in employees attracts top talent and benefits customer relationships. Employees will treat customers the right way and, as a whole, take on responsibility for customer success. A vendor with leadership that sees themselves as responsible for a customer’s success is a rare find, one that more customers will seek to partner with for the long term.

Mutually beneficial vendor-customer relationships are built on a foundation of respect for people and a commitment to seeing their success, on both sides of the coin.

Identifying Pain In Business Operations Processes

To be a catalyst for customer career growth, sometimes you need to help operations leaders solve problems they don’t know they have by helping them make the connection between a technology they don’t know they need to solve a problem they do know they have.

Part of this process is taking prospective customers through a process that Wharton Professor Adam Grant calls learning to unlearn. If you can come to an agreement about the problem that is data-backed, create a space where it’s safe to challenge existing assumptions and demonstrate a future where the problem can be solved, you can unlock value for the customer that they wouldn’t otherwise have realized.

By identifying operational pain points that are being experienced at the moment, you can facilitate an avenue for innovation. Business leaders will not adopt new technology for the sake of technology. However, educating them on the path to pain point elimination will illuminate the exigency required for new innovation adoption, causing improved business outcomes and catalyzing career growth.

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