Top European innovators celebrated
Market Gravity hosted its sixth annual Corporate Entrepreneur Awards this week, celebrating big business innovation and recognising the individuals and teams behind it.
Luxury lingerie, swimwear and nightwear retailer Rigby & Peller secured the award for Best New Product or Service for its in-store 3D mirror, which scans and measures women while in the changing room and takes photographs of the wearer in the outfit they are trying on, to help them make a purchase decision and to enhance the in-store experience.
Pearson, the world’s largest education company, came top of the class in the Best Innovation Culture category for its global framework for investment and development. It committed huge resources to the project and has delivered an innovative network to bring about change in the global education sector.
The award for Best New Business Launch was presented to Lego for Future Lab – a dedicated research and development team, focusing on moving quickly, downscaling, launching and experimenting with new products. The team has been instrumental in turning the business from a near bankrupt organisation in 2003 into a profit generating, design-driven company and the biggest toy manufacturer in the world (2014).
Castrol scooped the Best Game Changer award with the launch of Nexcel, a unique car engine oil cell. Aston Martin is the launch partner and the product has already generated positive feedback from equipment manufacturers and potential collaborators.
The Innovators’ Choice award, voted for on the night by the 400 attendees, was presented to the Barclaycard team for bPay, a contactless payment device (wristband, fob or sticker) connected to a pre-paid account, saving consumers time and helping Barclaycard expand its user base and enter adjacent markets.
Robin Scarborough, Partner and Managing Director of Market Gravity said: “We were overwhelmed by the standard and volume of nominations this year and it’s fantastic to see such outstanding, innovative work being produced by so many top European businesses. Our congratulations go to all the winners and their fantastic projects as well as to all the shortlisted companies.
“The finalists in each category demonstrated creative thinking in response to them identifying a gap in their market to meet their customers’ needs. The level of innovation was impressive and showed a real commitment to evolving existing business models to better cater to the needs of their customers.”
Best Product or Service
3D Mirror, from Rigby & Peller; Dispatch App from London Air Ambulance; High Performance Insurance from Direct Line Group; Freestyle from Coca-Cola Enterprises; and bPay from Barclaycard
Best New Business Launch
Future Lab from Lego; TSB for Intermediaries, from TSB; Element Hotels from Starwood Hotels & Resorts ; iD from Dixons Carphone PLC; and 56 Degrees, from Standard Life.
Best Game Changer
Nexcel from Castrol; AdSmart from Sky; D-Air from Dainese; Agiliti from Fiserv; and YR Free from Amey.
Best Innovation Culture
One Pearson Global Product Lifecycle from Pearson PLC; Unilever Foundry from Unilever; Innovate18 from Crossrail; Learning faster than the competition from William Hill Online and RWE Innovation Hub from RWE.
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”