When we speak of innovation, we always think about all the new technologies and techniques that can greatly improve the operations and systems of industries. However, true innovation goes beyond technicality, as everyone – from people, community to executives – should be involved.
As what Ryan Patel, CNN Contributor and Senior Fellow and Board Director at the Drucker School of Management, said at the HP Innovation Summit Asia 2020, “Technology and digital transformation has become part of our everyday lives, from the way we learn, the way we work, it affects everybody”, formally kickstarting the virtual event.
Ryan highlighted three important areas in meeting innovation: “Acceleration of change”, “disrupting industrial” and “innovating for the future”, right before he introduced Enrique Lores, President & CEO, HP Inc. Enrique then elaborated on these points and spoke about what innovation should look like, especially in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When we think of the pandemic, we clearly see all the changes that are happening and are accelerating. There are options of new technologies, new business models and the changes in how we live, how we work, have been dramatic”, said Enrique, mentioning that the term ‘acceleration of change’ best describes the impact of the pandemic.
Enrique added that this pandemic has accelerated the adoption of new business models, and will have an impact that will last for many years. “If you asked me pre-COVID if this company can handle 95% of employees working from home, I would have said no. But we have done it successfully. We also have learned that [there are] many jobs that may be done from home. You don’t have to come to offices every day anymore”.
Such changes in the business models, with the majority of employees working from home, will enable allocation of more talents, flexibility, less space needed in offices and more collaboration to exchange ideas. When it comes to the industrial markets, Enrique said that there is a need for the supply chain to be more resilient, which means we need to be closer where consumers would be and to produce more manufacturing locally.
“This is a big change we’ve been seeing for many years in a more globalised world. But at the same time, with the creation of digital technologies, with the adoption of data, with the knowledge and opportunity data brings, we also have the opportunity of targeting industries – to build products that have been designed for an individual,” added Enrique.
He explained that putting these things together introduce tremendous opportunities, because if a company knows “who you are, and how you are” – down to the size of your foot and arm - it can build specific products for an individual.
Beyond these technicalities, however, Enrique also discussed how people should be involved in accelerating changes through innovation. “I think more and more consumers want to do business with brands that relate to their values. This is why, for HP, sustainability is important. When we talk about sustainability, we look at it from three different angles – people perspective, planet perspective and community perspective”, he said.
Enrique believes that, for HP, this is a tremendous opportunity. He went on to mention that HP is a company that is in the intersection between the physical and digital worlds. Some of their products – such as PCs, which serve as onboarding devices of content to the digital space, 2D and 3D printers that create physical products from digital content and microfluidics – are all the opportunities that are being opened by HP where the digital and physicals worlds continue to converge.
“What sets us apart is microfluidics, which is our ability to manage fluids at micro scale. We’ve been using this technology for years to inkjet printing, but now we see applications in many other industries. We see applications in healthcare, sensors, and diagnostics. And when we look at where the world is going, the combination of data and this technology, we see endless opportunities for us to continue to grow and expand into new categories,” Enrique explained.
As people are an essential factor in innovation, maybe even the most, Enrique believes that companies should think about human rights, along with thinking about leaving a positive impact to the environment and serving communities as a provider of technology and employment.
According to him, “Diversity is critical, especially when we think about innovation. We need to make sure that inside the company, we can replicate the same needs that customers will have, and that we understand who they are, which will bring all different ideas that customers have when we design our products, services and business models”.
“I think what excites me every day is the opportunity that we have to have an impact in the world. Our goal is to use technology to make the lives better for everyone, everywhere. And these are our three keywords: technology, everyone, everywhere. When I think about how the company will be in the next 5 or 10 years, we should be a company that continues to lead in the markets where we are, and to also create new businesses and new categories,” Enrique concluded.