Innovation Open Letter to Stakeholders

“What is next?”

This is a question we find ourselves asking one another at BongoHive.

We see this question being asked amongst our partners too, every year, and in 2020 the exploration of what is next is exacerbated by the global pandemic, COVID-19.

As an innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology hub, we spend the majority of our time exposed to what could be next. This is through our various entrepreneur support programs, and our technology and innovation services.

I am particularly interested in the question, “how do you build what’s next?”

What are the components that have to come together for you to create high-impact, high-value products for your customers and shareholders?

What is that secret sauce?

This question escalates in urgency as I think about innovation for Zambia, and by extension, the African continent. Because here, innovation isn’t just a buzzword, innovation is about survival.

2020 has not only shown us where the cracks lie but the impact of intention and ingenuity.

There certainly isn’t one magic answer to ‘how you build what is next’, but I like to think there are some definite starting points, that we have explored and encountered in developing innovation as a service to our partners.

  1. People

We have found that the best way to build what is next – cutting edge, high-value products or services – is to be obsessed with your customers, what they are looking to get done, the problems they encounter, and what keeps them up at night.

As I say this, I am reminded of this quote by Tom Higley, CEO at X Genesis – “An ‘idea’ can too often be your favorite solution looking for a problem.” 

It speaks to the trap of the product rat race, as well as what is widely referred to as ‘innovation theatre’. Without a deep understanding of our customer’s problems, we play a guessing game, wasting precious time and resources.

The second component within the people aspect, is your team, the individuals that ensure you achieve your goals. To continuously be building what is next, you require a talented set of people with the foresight and the capability to get the work done.

2. Process

Now, I must caveat this by stating that there is a need to “process with caution”, taking into account the dangerous possibility of focusing (more) on the process and not so much the outcome – the ‘why’ behind the process.

Nonetheless, there is certainly a place for the process, a rigorous process, and that is when we are thinking about the sustainability of a product/service. How do we iterate without a clear path for how we got to the solution, to begin with? 

Building a high-velocity and efficient process will ensure that you are able to match your objectives with your results.

3. Product/Services

The lifeblood of every business, a unique offering sets you apart, especially when you look to digitize your various products and services. 

As stated above, it is fairly easy in this day and age to get sucked into the product rat race, to copy and paste solutions without any real depth.

There is a place for celerity, but not without a clear strategic alignment, without an ability to show how a given product or service delivers real value to a customer. 

So, how do we build what’s next? We pour all of the above – an obsession with people, our people (customers and teams), a defined and sustainable process, and high-value products and services into an “innovation cauldron” and consistently stir until we see results that matter. We do not ever stop checking to see that these are propelling us towards our vision.

At BongoHive, we focus on these 3 P’s as we provide our corporate innovation support. We use a variety of methods to support our partners in exploring and building innovative solutions. With a focus on fostering a culture of innovation, see how we supported a financial institution with branches across the country seeking ways to manage an increasing number of customers within the quickest possible time, here

Through our ‘CTO -(Chief Technology Officer) as -a- service’ offering, we support startups by providing the long-term technological expertise needed to build robust processes. 

The delivery (of our innovation service) is largely unique to each organisation, but the desire to see them build viable solutions that change the world, and being the partner with whom they do so, remains the same.

Speak to us today, about how we can enhance your ability to understand your people (customers), get the best out of your people (teams), build resilient processes and the most loved products and services. Talk to us and build ‘what is next’.

Sekayi Fundafunda-Lungu,

Innovation Lead,

BongoHive (Zambia’s first technology, entrepreneurship, and innovation hub).