The innovation sector is still very nascent and there is a high demand for training and learning.
MEDIA 7: Thank you so much for doing this with us! Wazoku’s mission is to ‘Change the World, One idea at a time.’ How does Wazoku execute this?
SIMON HILL: It’s a pleasure to share my thoughts and insights with you, thanks for the opportunity. Yes, our mission at Wazoku is to support global organizations, Government institutions, and NGOs in driving impactful innovation outcomes, at scale. We are a global software company and our AI-powered technology alongside a global community of on-demand innovators and a proven approach to delivering impactful innovation outcomes really do change the world.
M7: Sounds wonderful! Your world-leading Open Innovation Marketplace, InnoCentive, is the place for pioneering crowdsourced innovation. Could you please tell us more about it as well as about your innovative products?
SH: Yes, InnoCentive is our Open Innovation Marketplace. It is a two-sided marketplace comprising Seekers (companies with an innovation challenge) and Solvers (people or companies who work to try and solve the challenge). We support our clients, the seekers, with the crafting of an innovation challenge, often drawing on our experience to abstract the problem slightly to draw in a broad range of perspectives. This challenge is promoted to our global network of innovators who work, entirely at their own risk, on this challenge. The seeker posts an award for anyone who can solve the challenge and the best submissions will receive this award, either as a challenge prize or in exchange for IP.
We handle the process through our technology end-to-end, making it easy for companies to scout, identify, select and obtain IP or partnerships with solution providers (solvers). This approach has helped thousands of companies solve over 80% of their innovation challenges and paid over $60m in awards. InnoCentive is a product on our Agile Innovation Management platform. This is an enterprise-grade, integrated suite of products for Research, Innovation, Scouting, and Talent Engagement providing workflow, analytics, and engagement tools for internal and external innovation activity. Our unique, integrated proposition is your Global Home for Innovation.
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AI should augment the human process, making things easier across the value chain, but not (implicitly) replacing the human element.
M7: Could you please give our readers a few insights about your upcoming webinar, 'Innovation at Scale: Using Wazoku to innovate with internal and external audiences?
SH: Absolutely. We run a regular set of learning, knowledge sharing, and insights sessions for our community. The innovation sector is still very nascent and there is a high demand for training and learning. We support everyone who is interested in the broad topic of innovation through our learning series of events and make it freely available on-demand for everyone. This topic will take a deeper dive into the different approaches and considerations for innovating with different audiences. As I have mentioned, our software enables internal employee-driven innovation, supplier innovation, customer innovation, and also open innovation. We will be diving into this from a product perspective and looking at how our products enable businesses to drive innovation at scale as a core approach across all of these different communities and the different use cases people may wish to consider.
M7: What are the challenges that you face regarding handling and maintaining such highly developed AI technologies?
SH: There are many challenges. We deal with complex data sets, in a non-consistent, non-uniform structure, so finding ways to enable machine-driven interaction is a constant challenge. Our philosophy on AI is that it should augment the human process, making things easier across the value chain, but not (implicitly) replacing the human element, as context is king and the machine isn’t (yet) capable of really grasping nuance and context. Additionally, as we draw on our AI engine to evaluate the content and recommend solutions, it is important we do not introduce any unintended bias into that process.
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Accept that you know very little about anything, try and listen, learn and network as much as possible.
M7: Congratulations on Wazoku being listed on the ‘Best WorkplacesTM UK 2021’ list. Could you please give us a demographic of your work culture that made this possible?
SH: Wazoku is a pretty special place. The teams are super passionate about what we do, why we do it and there is an entrepreneurial spirit that runs through the business, even today. We have a broad mix of experience, tenure, nationalities and strive for balance in terms of diversity in all areas. It is a ‘work hard-celebrate success-learn from failure culture’, but we also care for our people, with a range of benefits including unlimited holiday, flexible working, mental health support, and much more besides. Our offices are also all dog friendly!
M7: What keeps you motivated and what advice would you like to give professionals starting their careers in this industry?
SH: The work we are doing is hugely important, impactful, and complex. The opportunity for the company that gets it right is large, but for me, it’s the knowledge that the work we do drives real value. We are changing working practices and culture, we are opening up innovation to fresh ideas, new perspectives, and bringing the collective intelligence of the whole world to help us advance and innovate. If that doesn’t keep me motivated, I don’t know what would! For those starting out, I would say, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. There will be tough times, but also hugely rewarding times. Accept that you know very little about anything, try and listen, learn and network as much as possible. Surround yourself with good people, they make all the difference and think hard about culture and identity, these are the DNA of your company and will define you as you grow and scale.