Businesses in Emerging Industries need an agile approach

By 20 February 2020Uncategorized

Businesses in Emerging Industries need an agile approach

We’ve got a lot of clients and projects in so called ‘Emerging Industries’. Operating in such an industry means you have to deal with a lot of uncertainty, having to figure out a lot from scratch and having to validate your product or service thoroughly and quickly. I quite often get the question: How do you help businesses like start-ups, scale-ups or even corporates that have to land innovation within their companies, to deal with these challenges? Well, we’ve created our own approach that helps our clients succeed and become future proof even in challenging industries.

What is an Emerging Industry?

Starting with a definition, we see an emerging industry as a consolidation of initiatives that are relatively new, often driven by innovation, and expected to become of significant importance in the near future. Such industries grow fast and may as well push away from competing traditional industries in the end.

Smart Mobility, Energy Transition, Fintech and Health- and Biotech are all Emerging Industries that are shaking-up traditional industries. Being a company in such an industry doesn’t mean you get to lay back once you hit the big numbers. Think of companies like Uber. They’re in the continuous development of new ideas, services, and products, as I described in our recap from Smart City Expo Barcelona 2019. Maybe in the future, such new initiatives will be combined, forming a new Emerging Industry.

For a lot of us, well-known companies in Emerging Industries have made our lives a lot easier. Like instant food delivery, hailing rides, or sleeping like a local in someone else’s home. For others, like taxi drivers or restaurant owners, it has been a big change in what they were used to. And they may not even experience it as a positive change, but overall in the long term, I do believe the changes that Emerging Industries bring are for the better: a more connected, developing, and sustainable world.

Business in emerging times

But what if you are a business in an Emerging Industry; a startup, scale up, or a big corporation that needs to change to stay ahead of competitors? There are a lot of opportunities, the market is wide open and if your users love your product there is a big chance you will grow every year. But chances are that you are also experiencing a lot of uncertainty and that you need to have a long breath (Uber was still losing up to 2 million dollars per hour last year and Amazon is only making a serious profit since 2018).

Running a company in an Emerging Industry may have its challenges:

  • There aren’t a lot of competitors or other companies that do what you do, so you can’t copy best practices or follow in someone else’s footsteps.
  • Technology isn’t a limiting factor anymore, but now you have the challenge to choose the right technology for your product or service.
  • You have to be decisive and super fast, validate your propositions, launch your product quickly and start optimizing from the very first day.
  • And in our globalized world, scalable products and services are a necessity; you need to be fit for growth with a strong, scalable foundation both in terms of volume and in geographic regions or languages.

We don’t just recognize these challenges from the experiences of our clients and partners. We once were in an Emerging Industry ourselves: starting as a venture of Rabobank in the early 1990s, set up outside their corporate offices, we built the very first on- and offline ‘telebanking’ services in Europe. Back then, as one of the first internet companies, pretty emerging at the time.


Using an Agile approach

Over the last 25 years, we’ve developed an approach to assisting companies with their digital ambitions in Emerging Industries. We combine our strong knowledge of technology, design, and agile collaboration with our client’s knowledge of their industry and product. This facilitates an agile process with short iterations and user validation, which ensures a strong foundation required to scale. Our approach can be applied to any type of company from startup, scaleup to corporate, as long as there is a necessity to change or an urge to emerge.

The characteristics of this agile approach are: 

  1. Before even starting with any development sprints, we gain a deep understanding of the overall context, business objectives, and user needs. This is what we call a ‘Track 0’. It helps us really understand the client’s challenges and opportunities.
  2. Also, before developing, we make sure to have created a validated concept and a mapped (target) technical architecture to build upon. Having these insights enables us to be quickly up-to-speed during the sprints.
  3. Giving time and attention to these fundamental activities helps us to prepare for the development and implementation of the digital product. It creates a shared vision of the product, technology, and collaboration, which pays off in velocity and predictability for the sprints that follow.
  4. Following the ‘Track 0’, as we have called it, starts a ‘Track 1’ which leads towards a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). We use Agile Product Development: in development sprints of two weeks, the scrum team works on the technical architecture and transforms the validated concept into a value-adding digital product.
  5. As an additional layer to secure project development, we embed a ‘Scope Governance Board’ into projects. After every sprint, stakeholders (mainly scrum master, product owner, delivery manager, and project sponsor) join to monitor the budget, timelines, performance, and progress. Without bypassing the scrum team in their daily operations and responsibilities, this board has proven to maximize the added value of projects for our clients.

With an exploring mindset, the right expertise, years of experience, and agile processes, this way of working will quickly bring you from innovation on paper, to tangible solutions and results. In this way, as an independent, human-centered, technology-agnostic agency, we help companies in emerging industries with their digital asks. For over 25 years, it’s been in our DNA.

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