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What incremental innovation looks like

Blog posted by: Kiran Chahal, Senior Campaign Manager at the Department for Work and Pensions, 10 August 2023.

My strongest memory of innovation? An A4 piece of paper.

An old school friend of mine was the first in our class with internet access – a magic portal to another world. She’d taken advance requests of pictures of our favourite bands to print. As she generously dished out the pages, we each took our pile and pored over the tiny, overly pixelated images. You had to look from afar. Otherwise, they were just smudged coloured blobs. That didn’t bother us. It wouldn’t be long until I had the luxury of my own dalek-style dial-up broadband to behold all those treasured visuals for myself.

Innovation reframes connection, social and cultural perception and the art of what’s possible. It raises the bar. Done well, it inspires and challenges us to excel. It improves the quality and value of our services. As consumers, it makes parts of life that much smoother (no-one comes between me and my air fryer).

Now for the existential elephant in the room. Not all innovation is responsible or, to be specific, used responsibly. History’s shown us how highly innovative technology can both elevate and devastate. Even the outputs of well-intentioned innovation can be easily adapted for malicious intent such as threats, coercion and intimidation. It’s a heavy subject and I could discuss it at length. Instead, to keep this blog concise and avoid making you all miserable, I’m focusing for now on the opportunities innovation offers us in comms.

Innovation is one of those overused words that risks numbing us to its meaning. As exciting as radical innovation is, it’s important to also consider incremental innovation – the power of gradual steps towards improvement borne of creative thinking, collaboration and ambition. Here are some tangible ways to achieve that in Strategic Comms.

Automated dashboards

An underrated must. Make sure you’re producing that weekly/monthly or ad hoc report in minutes not hours. You can then dedicate more time to data checks and generating high-quality insight. User-friendly, automated dashboards are so efficient, for evaluators and their audiences. Anyone who, like me, has felt the pain of manual chart formatting or broken PowerPoint links knows this all too well.

Current fans of data visualisation tool Tableau might know Salesforce is incorporating generative AI in its upcoming offers Tableau GPT and Tableau Pulse, with more hinted to come. Likewise, Microsoft is expanding its product line with AI-assisted tech, including data and insights products. Government departments often require a business case for using new or updated software, to ensure taxpayer value for money. If this applies to you, your rationale for using such tools, if you don’t already, could broadly include:

  • Greater transparency of data
  • Easier benchmarking and competitor comparison
  • Stronger trend and anomaly recognition
  • Interactive, easily shareable

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