SmartMonkey among the top 10 innovators in logistics: Volkswagen chooses

SmartMonkey among the top 10 innovators in logistics: Volkswagen chooses

Open innovation is becoming an established trend among all corporations. If you're a corporation and don't have an open innovation contest, this means you're missing out on the next wave of changes that could cause your current business to die sooner than expected.

Volkswagen understood that and recognized that finding the best innovations that benefit its business will probably have to come from outside the company, which is why it launched its open innovation competition in which +400 startups were present and from which we were selected to be among the top 10 innovators in logistics.

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Top 10 logistics innovators of 2019

The selection process was challenging: We had to go through different departments of the Volkswagen logistics group in addition to their factories, talking to their employees, trying to understand their needs and complaints and adapt them to our technology. In the end, they selected the 10 best companies that will directly impact their logistics operations and on May 14, SmartMonkey will be at the IPM logistics innovation event with the rest of the winners. This represents an honor for us and we would like to thank Volkswagen for this great opportunity.

But for now, the question I want to discuss is:
“Do all corporations need an open innovation contest?”

From my point of view, I would say no. Most companies are not yet ready for this disruptive field, not even their top managers! Because to be involved in innovation, you must first believe in its essence, from top to bottom; from the CEO to the lowest level of responsibility. This means that everyone must be willing to allocate a budget, efforts and resources and especially to receive the FAIL with open hands because innovation will inevitably cause people to fail, if that's not the case then maybe you're not innovating.

Failure is part of the game. Talk to Edison and his 999 ways not to make a light bulb. If top management is a firm believer in innovation, then innovation must be part of the company's culture. Once achieved, people will give more of their time and themselves to bring their best ideas to the company, even if there is a risk of failure. From the bottom up, innovation comes when employees believe in that culture.

There are a lot of examples that illustrate this, but there is only one that struck me personally: In Aigües de Barcelona; In the water service company that is part of the Suez group, there was that man who spent several weekends of his free time working at home, designing a tool to open sewers so that he wouldn't get hurt by repetition. He was one of their foremen, so he served as a role model for the rest of the employees to begin to innovate and provide new ideas that would improve their lives. The company believed in him, in his ambition and in his idea, and even dedicated resources to developing it, testing it and putting it into practice to encourage others to start taking initiatives as well.

Companies where failure is not accepted, in which people simply do what they are supposed to do, in which no one is taking risks, are in danger: their jobs are at risk, not because they are going to be fired, but because the market is not waiting for anyone. It's a matter of time and changing the inertia of companies over several years is no easy task.

SmartMonkey has been in numerous corporate open innovation competitions of different types: Aigües de Barcelona, Heineken, Cofares, Volkswagen, to name just a few and what I can tell you from my own experience, this is one of the ways to start working with open innovation. Innovation: While investors are looking for the unicorn, trying to fill their transaction flow, companies have the same difficult task; it takes time and it's very difficult to see potential matches between corporations and startups, but someone must do it. So my personal advice for senior management will be to assign one of the most experienced people in the company; someone with the big picture in mind, someone who knows the internal processes perfectly or at least has experience in several departments, to be responsible for the fit between the company and the startups. You need to be a leader, be reliable and be on good terms with other employees because you will ask for help, ask for favors or have to cut through internal bureaucracy. Give that person support and innovation will appear.

Last but not least, my last tip is for startups: if you don't know people from operations but only see people from marketing or communication departments, RUN (unless your products and services solve marketing problems). Sure, they'll convince you because of the amount of possibilities you have, but trust me, this is just to illustrate, they don't plan to do any business behind those meetings, they just do it because they should. I call that “The entrepreneurial show business” — “The entrepreneurial show”. So, believe me, don't waste time and run.

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