Future proof your business through innovation

Causeway Innovation has worked with a wide range of businesses from startups to some of the world’s largest companies and from a wide range of sectors from ICT to food, health, cleantech, creative industries and professional services. One thing they all have in common is a rapidly changing business landscape impacted by new technologies.

There are ‘Four Ts’ driving innovation.

The first T is TALENT - this includes increased participation in education, greater expectations, more women in the workforce, and more talented people effectively educating themselves to keep ahead in their careers. Talented people have more choices in their careers – including working as a free agent or growing their own business – and will seek a positive work culture, good colleagues with the opportunity for interesting work and professional development.

The second T is TECHNOLOGY – this is making a massive impact across all industries, creating disruption but also opportunities. In the legal sector, for example, just one piece of new software used by JP Morgan does in seconds what took lawyers 360,000 hours. If we assume that time could have been billed for say $300 per hour, the value of the saving delivered by the software would be around $108m.

The third T is TRAVEL - the world is our market and if we wanted to hop on a plane from Brisbane to see some partners or clients in New York, we can get there and back for $2,000 or less. 

The fourth T is TENACITY - I have asked hundreds of business owners and entrepreneurs and asked ‘why have you been successful?’ and they said things like 'persistence', 'hard work' and 'tenacity', sticking with it – it’s no point having all that talent; you have to be determined and do something with it.

All 4Ts are important, but let's take a closer look at TECHNOLOGY. A very useful idea and framework is the Digital Disruption Map developed by Deloitte around 2012. This plots 18 industries in a matrix – see figure below – based on the time to realise the impact and then the scale of the impact. So a short time and a big impact would be called “Short Fuse, Big Bang” or a longer time frame with a more modest impact would be "Long Fuse, Small Bang". Take a look to see if your industry is mapped and where it appears. Professional services are in the "Short Fuse, Big Bang" category.

Digital Disruption Map


In accounting, the development of cloud based software such as Xero – launched in Australia in 2008 - has changed how clients manage their businesses and engage with bookkeepers and accountants. 

Artificial intelligence software will help automate more routine – and not so routine tasks – and ideally free up professionals to work on higher value and higher impact tasks, which will also be more rewarding for them. Cloud technology can also allow more flexible working by professional staff.

Digital disruption has become quite a well-known term, but we also need to focus on digital opportunities. AI has a lot of potential but it really complements brainpower and can take care of the more routine tasks. 

The best firms will work hard to understand the potential technology has to add value to their clients, staff and the firm. The next – and bigger challenge – is to figure out opportunities for innovation to make the most of the talent on their core and extended team, to do something distinctive that adds real value.

Innovation is about implementing new ideas of value. It is not just about new products or solely the domain of startups. Innovation is needed at all stages of the business development cycle and is much wider than just products. The ‘Ten Types of Innovation’ framework from Doblin is an excellent tool to help identify and develop new types of innovation.

Ten Types of Innovation

Image credit: Doblin, Ten Types of Innovation

Image credit: Doblin, Ten Types of Innovation

Most businesses can take a look at the Ten Types framework and quickly identify 3 or 4 broad categories most relevant to them. In financial services, there are opportunities across the board for example in:

  • Network: how you connect with others to create value
  • Structure: how your organise and align your talent
  • Brand: how you represent your offerings and business

Traditionally, there has been a lot of emphasis of product innovation, research by Peter Fisk of Genius Works shows the greatest returns come from areas such as business model, networking and process innovation.

In summary, technology is moving ahead at an increasing pace and the businesses that will continue to thrive will be those that make the most of the benefits technology can deliver and make the most of the talents of their team and networks to benefit their clients.


Colin Graham