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Technology Deployment Strategy: Applying Startup Principles to Drive Corporate Innovation

Updated: Dec 20, 2023

In a world where technological advancement is pivotal, corporations often face the challenge of integrating cutting-edge startup technologies into their existing frameworks. However, the key to successful deployment strategy lies not just in the technology's functionality but in a deeper, entrepreneurial approach. This article unveils five essential principles, inspired by successful startups, that can transform how corporations adopt and implement new technologies, ensuring both practical value and strategic alignment.

When we encounter organizations seeking to deploy cutting-edge technologies into their products, services and operations it usually follows a very engineering-oriented approach. The focus is usually on the question “Does it work?” or in other words, there’s a strong drive to simply take the technology for a drive and see if it delivers on its promise.

This pattern will be very familiar to entrepreneurs who founded startups that focused on making a certain invention or unique functionality to work. You may be surprised to learn that it is a mistake to focus on simply making something work. It’s actually more important to make sure that assuming you can make it work, there will actually be someone willing to adopt a solution to a painful problem and pay for it. This is still a common mistake but it is seen much less than in the past, especially in mature ecosystems such as in Israel. The lean startup methodology and several others that came out of thriving innovation ecosystems have done a lot in that regard.

technology deployment

What can we learn from these startup entrepreneurs when deploying startup technologies into the products, services and operations of established organizations? Following are five principles that have become de-facto best practices of successful entrepreneurs and are being applied by accelerators and incubators as part of their standard. If we regard the opportunity to deploy a startup technology into an established organization as an innovative venture such as a “startup” in itself then these practices have proven to increase success rates in large multiples in the organizations that we have worked with.

1. Define a problem you wish to solve

Spyre Nexus

Whenever we don’t think about a real, painful problem the technology wishes to solve then we are simply implicitly saying that the technology deployed because it’s a working technology that can deliver technological value. Startups who claim that their product should be purchased because it’s a great product usually find themselves to be out of business. For example, a camera whose images are analyzed by AI can learn what a normal product coming off a production line looks like, identify faulty products and have them removed. In such a case we would want to apply the technology to products for cases where defective ones reaching customers can cause considerable damage. Traditionally, we get excited with the AI and find a product that the technology can analyze. When thinking like seasoned entrepreneurs we seek a product with a considerable issue around it finished product quality. Sometimes, when the problem is defined properly, we discover that it can be solved using simpler means. For example, one of our clients was considering augmented reality technology for maintenance crews as a means of preserving knowledge since there was a high turnover of personnel. After defining the problem properly we realized that it was mostly due to a small number of recurring malfunctions that the younger maintenance engineers didn’t know how to fix. As a result, the solution was simplified to consist of a tablet with a camera and an experienced maintenance engineer who will be on call and could even from another location, guide the acting engineer with resolving the malfunction by “peeking over his shoulder” and giving instructions.

2. Define your target audience and focus

When startups formulate their value proposition, they should identify the target audience which suffers the most from the problem. In addition to that, seasoned entrepreneurs know they should also identify a sub-group of early adopters, i.e. potential customers who have the most to gain from adopting a solution to the defined problem. This is a great principle that should be applied in the case of technology deployment as well. One example is where a startup technology that a corporation wanted to introduce as an upsell to its product could save the customer base more than half of their power consumption. The target audience was defined as customers in general because they all care about their energy spending. However, when we asked the team about early adopters it became clear that customers in regions around the world where energy prices rose significantly in the last 24 months would be much more inclined to pay for a solution to this problem.

3. Make sure that your organization can actually deliver a working solution

technology deployment strategy

Experienced entrepreneurs know that it isn’t enough to build a solution that works but that they have to ask themselves in advance how they’re going to manufacture, distribute and operate it if they wish to get an investment. Similarly, when considering the deployment of a technology inside an established organization, one must consider that the technology will work and then consider how the organization will be able to deliver on its value at scale. Experience shows that oftentimes, key stakeholders in the organization that are an essential part of the successful delivery of a solution are actually unqualified for this task and may even be measured and incentivized in a way that goes contrary to the task at hand. For example, when a food manufacturer installed a technology that halted a production line every time a faulty sequence of products was coming out was able to demonstrate that the technology was delivering on its value only to come back two weeks later and discover that the technology was turned off. When we were asked to investigate we discovered that the line operators who are measured on production level realized that the technology was halting production as they were expected to remove the faulty products from the line. This in turn, caused their success KPI’s to be negatively affected so they simply turned it off. This could have been avoided, for example, by adjusting their KPI’s to include quality aspects coupled with a strong managerial directive.

4. Frame the opportunity as if it is a startup asking for investment

Just like any other internal endeavor seeking management support in established organizations, technology deployment projects tend to be lengthy and expensive. The team that’s promoting the deployment is focused on the long-term gains and as a result, seeks to get commitment for a longer term project with clear stages and a significant investment upfront. This is simply the corporate way of doing things. VC’s (Venture Capital) have a very different approach. They also are dealing with elements that have a high risk of failure and at the same time a high potential upside. They deal with this by considering a large number of investment options, invest an initial modest amount in a relatively large number and gradually reduce the number of surviving investments, having consecutive investment rounds gradually grow. Similarly, technology deployment opportunities should be framed to decision makers in the organization as if they were investments in startups by a VC. In other words, start by asking for some time to formulate the value proposition and perform some fact-finding and validation. In case we have a lucrative value proposition along with evidence and findings that are convincing, follow by asking for a modest budget and a little time to prove that if the technology is deployed it is going to deliver high value. Only when we are able to prove this to a high enough degree can we get management to introduce the technology as part of official work plans.


5. Formulate an MVP (sort of)

An MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is commonly used by seasoned entrepreneurs as it provides an initial version of a product with core features. It helps validate concepts, gather user feedback, and minimize resources spent. By swiftly entering the market, startups gauge interest, refine offerings, and adapt to customer needs, accelerating growth and mitigating risks.

Similarly, organizations should apply such a concept when considering investing in the deployment of a startup technology. Unfortunately, the engineering-oriented approach of most organizations we encountered has adopted the term MVP, which is supposed to be focused on proving value, while practically turning it into a PoC (Proof of Concept), actually focuses on proving technical functionality.

What we recommend is a concept called a SMART pilot that applies the key aspects of an MVP only with the understanding of the task at hand which is proving the value of a venture inside an established organization. A SMART pilot is a methodical test to assess project feasibility. SMART denotes Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals. This approach involves a cost-effective, brief experiment to demonstrate an idea's potential. It focuses on sponsorship, measurable metrics, operational fit, limited resources, and a defined timeframe to showcase a project's value for future investment.

The Acronym SMART consists of:

Sponsorship: secure endorsement from the executive sponsor for the initiative including the approval of pilot success criteria.

Metrics: establish measurable and significant Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) while setting a clear threshold for pilot success.

Adoption: address operational compatibility during the pilot phase and leverage the pilot to assess and encourage adoption.

Resource Allocation: constrain the pilot's budget to no more than 10% of the usual ask in the organization for typical PoC’s, MVP’s and such.

Time Frame: set a target to accomplish meaningful milestones within a concise 3-month period.

By applying the SMART pilot approach we set a clear and tangible step of valuable validation following which, decision-makers can make much higher-quality decisions.

To summarize, we covered five principles that are commonly used by seasoned entrepreneurs when building startup companies. By applying these principles to opportunities for the deployment of startup technologies within established organizations treating the deployments as entrepreneurial ventures, we can greatly benefit from these best practices and increase our success rates of getting from a startup of interest to us all the way to the decision to deploy the technology as part of official work plans.

If you’re looking to harness the power of startup innovation within your corporation,

Let’s explore how our tailored approach can drive success in your organization.


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