Innovation seems to be the buzz word at the moment as businesses and organizations look to differentiate themselves from the crowd. But Craig Dickman, managing director at TitletownTech in Green Bay, challenged businesses to go beyond that and strive for convergent innovation.
“There’s a lot going on. Technology is changing, markets are moving — everything is changing,” Dickman said at a St. Norbert CEO Breakfast Series talk. “Trying to do that is like catching lightning in a bottle.”
Since TitletownTech opened last summer, 559 companies have come through, Dickman said. “If you think about your business, there’s someone out there looking to disrupt you, replace you … the problems your business has can become opportunities.”
He stressed developing a solution to a problem is not about “how” but rather “who.”
“You should have people in your organization who are subject matter experts,” Dickman said. “You may then need to bring in a technologist to help. After you develop a solution, the next step is to design it. At that point, you probably no longer need a technologist, but instead use a venture builder to move the idea from idea to practice.”
The last input a business needs is from customers, whether it’s external or internal. “It’s important to see what they think, and then the next question is ‘how can we commercialize this solution?’” Dickman said.
At this point, some businesses determine the best way to implement the solution is by spinning it off. “You need to think through the commercialization and its implications,” Dickman said. “For some organizations, it may be too disruptive to fully embrace the solution, so you look at how to do it gradually.”
When businesses and organizations are looking for a “who” that can help them, Dickman said they should consider TitletownTech. “We’re a whole network of ‘whos.’ Some people think we just focus on entrepreneurs, and we do that, but we also work with established businesses looking for solutions to a problem.”
Creating a culture of innovation in the region is essential since that will encourage young people — especially those with digital skills — to stay here versus looking for opportunities in Madison, Milwaukee or even farther away, Dickman said. “The whole goal is to: dream big, innovate together and create value.”