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Perspective

Setting Innovation Free

Four key steps to scaling up success

By Jason Williamson, Vice President, Oracle Global Startup Ecosystem

Summer 2018

Entrepreneurs trying to shake up the business establishment and enterprise CIOs with their own plan for disruption have something in common: they both need the cloud to activate innovation.

Think of it as “renting scale”: getting the modern IT resources you need—only as much as you need and when you need them—so the constraints of traditional IT don’t get in the way of success. I’ve become familiar with this endeavor in a career that’s spanned stints as a Fortune 500 executive and as a serial entrepreneur. Renting scale benefits enterprises by enabling teams of forward-thinking IT and businesspeople to build cool stuff and keep their sights on generating new revenues for the company. For startup leaders, it’s a way to thrive rather than stumble when the market embraces your new idea so enthusiastically that thousands of additional customers materialize overnight.

Four Keys to Scale Up Success

Whether you lead a startup or an established company that’s ready to scale up, four considerations can help you get the most out of renting scale.

1. Forge strategic partnerships that yield ongoing benefits. Partnerships are key for companies at any maturity level, and it’s important to forge relationships that can benefit all dimensions of the business. The right startup ecosystems not only offer dynamic cloud services for scaling up quickly, they also promote mentoring and innovation among portfolios of young and established companies.

For example, Oracle Global Startup Ecosystem gives startups access to all of Oracle’s enterprise-grade cloud services, plus mentorship on how to grow businesses. By leveraging the ecosystem, the Brazilian startup Nexus Edge has created Alana, proprietary AI technology designed for the advertising industry. It helps agencies generate insights into consumer behavior, perform competitive analyses, and capitalize on data in a host of other ways.

“Oracle has helped us to have a cloud infrastructure maturity that startups typically just do not have access to,” says Marcel Jientara, CEO of Nexus Edge. “In addition, we have been able to create new products together with the Oracle Customer Experience team, and we have already secured $500,000 in sales. This is a great start to the long-term relationship we want with Oracle.”

Similarly, enterprises are using the ecosystem to form relationships with portfolio companies such as Nexus Edge to gain value from new applications without having to go build the new capabilities themselves.

Renting scale benefits enterprises by enabling teams of forward-thinking IT and businesspeople to build cool stuff and keep their sights on generating new revenues for the company.”

2. Create a framework for innovation that overcomes institutional roadblocks. Some large enterprises have a kind of institutional muscle memory that prevents them from scaling successfully. They may prototype a cool idea in their skunk works but run up against security or compliance policies that prevent the innovation from reaching a wider audience.

A framework for innovation helps companies avoid these roadblocks with procedures that accommodate change, while still addressing all the businesses’ important policy requirements.

3. Cultivate a culture of innovation that rewards freethinkers. To promote a steady flow of new ideas that keeps pace with market disruption, senior executives need to listen to—and when appropriate, act on—suggestions being generated by innovators. Otherwise, companies lose out on potentially game-changing ideas and may even see high-performing employees jump to competitors who demonstrate a greater commitment to change.

4. Start small but always follow a big vision. It’s easy to get too wrapped up in “thinking big”—I’ve been guilty of it myself in the past. We try to do too much, too fast, and in the end, our initiatives just flame out. But just as dangerous is not having the courage to be bold. Even when an idea succeeds within its limited goals, the reaction is “big deal,” and nobody cares. The answer is to do both simultaneously. Start with proofs of concept and pilots that score quick wins. But always have a plan in place for building on success and scaling up to the next milestone.

Startups and established companies face their own advantages—and challenges—as they compete in an era of business disruption. Renting scale and global ecosystems can’t guarantee success, but they can set innovation free.

Action Item

Learn how one startup got an enterprise-grade infrastructure to scale their business.

Photography by Brett Winter Lemon, The Verbatim Agency