The digital revolution has evolved beyond just staying on top of the latest development tools, trends, and techniques. Today, many companies are wondering how technologies like blockchain, chatbots, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and other emerging technologies might work with their businesses. What’s more, while the variety of technologies continues to increase, the associated complexity seems to grow equally with them. 

So, how are organizations testing emerging technologies while keeping their core business functioning? Lev Shur, president of Exadel Solutions, explains why innovation labs might be the answer in his latest Forbes article. Below is an overview of his insights: 

Traditional Innovation Labs

The concept of innovation labs (also referred to as centers or studios) has been around for at least 30 years. While the idea has persisted for three decades, the value of these innovation labs has been criticized and challenged by many over the years. Much of that criticism involves four main objections:

  • Misalignment with business’s objectives
  • Excessive consumption of  time 
  • Difficulty of access
  • No support for Agile development

Some believe that working with or in an innovation lab creates a siloed environment that isolates one business unit from the rest of the company, thereby leading to a misalignment of business objectives. Additionally, many claim that the inability to access a physical location, along with the lack of time needed to properly assess the fitness of new technology in a not particularly Agile environment, are the key pitfalls of traditional innovation labs. 

Choosing the Right Innovation Lab

With hot new technologies popping up almost daily, organizations need to be able to keep up with the pace of innovation. While there is no concrete way to select an innovation lab, following these steps is a good way to start the process toward the right choice: ask questions, consider price, compare on-premise vs. virtual labs, and compare specialized vs. general expertise. 

There are plenty of innovation labs to choose from, and as you engage with them throughout the selection process, you want to make sure you’re asking the right questions. Similarly, just as there is a wide range of innovation labs to choose from, you will likely encounter many different pricing models. You’ll want to make sure you find a solution that has flexible, transparent pricing that fits your budget. Next, is the decision between on-premises lab and a virtual one. Of course, there are benefits to the on-prem experience, which facilitates true hands-on learning and building experience. However, with the virtual experience, you get the flexibility to access the lab at your convenience even though you may lose out on some of the real-time collaboration of an on-prem lab. The choice is ultimately yours, and some labs might even have a hybrid option. Finally, you’ll want to consider the breadth of technologies that an innovation lab supports during your search. While a lab that specializes in a specific technology might offer the deepest expertise in that field, a lab that has several options can be helpful in case plans change and you need to test a different technology.

Now, just as organizations have adapted to the use of new technologies, innovation labs must continue to improve in order to keep up with the pace of software development and delivery—the backbone of innovation.

To learn more about innovation labs and how to pick the best one for your organization, check out Lev’s full article here

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