Building Business & Technology Innovation Centers

The complexities of today’s business and IT environment haven’t been lost on top-tier consulting firms. Over the last few years, companies such as Accenture and PwC have introduced everything from technology labs to innovation workshops to assist companies in the ongoing transition into the digital age.

The latest entry into the marketplace is Deloitte. In mid-February, it opened the Deloitte Greenhouse in Chicago. The business and technology innovation center is the first of several planned immersive environments designed to aid companies in developing systems that tap into leading-edge technology, analytics, behavioral methods and facilitation.

The goal, says J.R. Reagan, a principal with Deloitte & Touche, is to provide systems that help organizations cultivate ideas, relationships and opportunities in a practical and accessible way. “There are a number of benefits related to bringing together expertise and existing knowledge about different parts of IT and digital technology,” he says.

“The Greenhouse is a high-tech, high-touch environment that helps companies re-imagine and visualize problems in significantly different ways … In today’s digital environment, there’s a growing need to combine best-practice approaches in a way that leads to real-world results.”

The approach is built around a model incorporating rapid prototyping. “Most organizations do not have facilities that allow them to view different technologies and opportunities in a way that leads to faster and better decision-making,” Reagan explains.

The advanced, immersive environment is designed to accelerate breakthroughs. The Greenhouse is a collaborative effort that incorporates the current Deloitte Client Experience (DCE) Labs, the Deloitte Analytics Highly Immersive Visual Environment (HIVE) and Deloitte Consulting Innovation (DCI) experiences.

Reagan says that assembling these environments and capabilities into a single space creates a far more dynamic framework. “Too often,” he notes, “companies get caught in the trap of thinking of the technology as the solution.” In fact, the process is far broader and deeper.

“With the right framework, it’s possible to rethink and revamp the way things are done and adopt a technology approach deeply tied to things such as consumer behavior, user experience and real-world functionality,.” He adds. This can involve anything from designing better packaging to building more functional and easy-to-use apps.

The center will tap expertise from across Deloitte on an as-required basis. This includes drawing on consulting expertise in several core areas: innovation, analytics, leadership, strategy, human relationships, transformation, transition and custom areas. Reagan says that a typical engagement can last anywhere from tens of hours to hundreds of hours, and the process is highly scalable and flexible, depending on an organization’s requirements. The goal is to produce a prototype in as little as a couple of weeks.

Over the coming months, Deloitte plans to open additional centers in Silicon Valley, Washington, D.C., Westlake, Texas (where Deloitte operates its University), and New York City.

“The process is designed to walk business and IT leaders through complex step,” Reagan explains. “It helps transform vague ideas and general concepts into well-defined steps and processes that allow an organization to execute effectively.”