From the Editor – How to innovate? Just THINC!

Posted on May 1, 2013 :: Editor
Margaret LeBrun
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

The first time I sat down with Michael Diamond, he kept me on the edge of my chair as he talked of possibilities. Innovation could be his middle name.

What if, he says, people didn’t have to fiddle so much with the tiny keyboards of their smart phones? What if, instead, they could just take photos with their phones of documents, or checks, or their driver’s licenses, and accomplish tasks such as getting a quote for auto insurance or depositing a check into their bank account?

In reality, these technologies already exist. They’re not widely used yet, but they could be soon, says Diamond, who works for Mitek Systems in San Diego and makes his home in Appleton, working wherever in the world he needs to. There’s a pull from consumers who would like to skip ahead of annoying tasks and get things done with less hassle, he says.

In the “Face Time” interview I did with him, Diamond says innovative companies don’t sit around and hope consumers change their behaviors to match what they currently offer. Instead, they take cues from what consumers want next.

As our keynote speaker at Insight’s second annual Technology & Human Innovation Networking Conference – THINC! – Diamond will delve into this and other issues on how businesses can engage technology and be more innovative. Designed to spotlight innovative ideas in a format that provokes, inspires and energizes people to advance the regional economy, THINC! will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 14 at the UW-Fox Communication Arts Center, Menasha.

Diamond will present “A Tale of Two Valleys: Silicon & Fox River,” sharing insights on how we exchange information – and why every business needs to stay on top of how their customers want to communicate.

Three other presentations will be delivered in 15-minute “bursts,” fast-paced sessions designed to convey a single important idea in a dynamic, memorable way. They are:

» Bruce Albrecht, vice president of Global Innovation and Technology for ITW Welding Companies, including Miller Electric, presenting, “Is your company really innovating?” Based on the success of innovation strategies deployed at his company, he will explore how an ongoing commitment to new and better ideas can transform your company.

» John Toussaint, CEO, ThedaCare Center for HealthCare Value, will present, “Snowblowers to stethoscopes: From the factory floor to the hospital floor, how innovation can happen anywhere.” Thousands of health care providers from around the country and around the world have been traveling to Appleton to learn from Toussaint and his team how lean principles can be adapted into any setting – streamlining practices and saving a lot of money along the way.

» Joan Malcheski, director of Green Bay Packers Media Group and Brand Engagement, will present, “Communication innovation: On the pulse of Packers fans.” Malcheski will show that even while we marvel at the potential of new technology, the messages we send to our customers is truly the key to effective communication.

THINC! will conclude with a networking reception in the theater hall and art gallery. Tickets are $60. For more information or to register, click here.

Innovation is a key driver of our manufacturing-intensive statewide economy, and one example is this month’s cover story subject, Alliance Laundry Systems of Ripon. President and CEO Mike Schoeb, who had a little fun with a bottle of bubbles for the photo shoot, stressed that continuous improvement is always top of mind for the company.

Perhaps it’s no coincidence, then, that Alliance is the world’s largest manufacturer of laundry equipment. Combine that with the reality that keeping our clothes clean is an everyday concern that will never go away, and you can understand why the company remained profitable throughout the recent recession. It plans to hire 250 employees, starting this month. For a little insight into the innovations driving success at Alliance, I encourage you to read the story by Sean Johnson. And for a lot of insight into innovation in a format I’m sure will keep you on the edge of your chair, I hope to see you at THINC! on May 14.

Margaret LeBrun

About Margaret LeBrun

Co-Publisher, Executive Editor View all posts by Margaret LeBrun →