The Role of Experimentation in Digital Business

With huge global disruption and uncertainty from a technological, social, financial, ethical, and legal perspective, what’s the future of business in a digital economy?

And what does this mean to an entrepreneur, a business person, a marketing professional, or an engineer?

The answer, of course, is that we don’t really know: we’re only at the beginning of a massive wave of change. However, there are some patterns beginning to emerge, and one of the key findings is that the only way to deal with uncertainty is to experiment.

Remember, though, that experimentation isn’t chaos. Experimentation is about putting a learning framework around the kinds of new things that you want to try. It’s about moving at a reasonable rhythm whilst measuring your progress, all the while feeding the learning back into new experiments.

Agile Innovation is an approach that is founded on experimentation: it is a new strategy for management thinking linked with digital innovation. It was developed to adapt to, and exploit, the growing opportunity to apply and test innovations almost simultaneously with their invention. Fast, nimble, creative and lateral, Agile is the only style of business development that moves in tandem with the digital economy.

How? By giving you a scientific method for navigation through the ‘fog’ of a future that’s possible to guess at, but impossible to predict: observe, hypothesise, test and recompute. But – importantly – at a speed that keeps innovation relevant.

With individuals, small teams, and large enterprises alike now trying to experiment in this way, hubs like the Surrey Research Park and SetSquared are extremely attractive and successful. The Research Park and other groups in TechCity, Haifa and Silicon Valley provide an incubation and accelerator community-based support mechanism to help create that experimental mind-set within a flexible supporting structure. This takes them from early discovery of their value propositions, value chains, market segments, and appropriate business models, to growing their customer base, through to perhaps an exit strategy or merger/acquisition. These journeys of experimentation are also fuelled via access to angel investors and VC communities.

At CoDE, we are investigating how an experimental feedback-based approach allows organisations to create the flexibility that they need to maintain and organise themselves as they evolve. CoDE aims to facilitate understanding and create practical frameworks for experimentation for the benefit of businesses, the economy and society.

If you’d like to find out how Agile Innovation and experimentation would apply to your business landscape, please get in touch.







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About the Author : Kris Henley

Communications and Outreach for Surrey Business School's Centre for the Digital Economy, a newly-founded research centre to explore the implications of the Digital Economy for business, government and society.

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