Twisthink recently hosted a virtual panel with a focus on tech scouting, including the purpose, the benefits, the challenges, and how businesses can be successful with it. The panelists also shared their insight into some of the emerging trends happening within the mobility sector and what’s in store for the future of automotive technology.
Taryn Kutches, VP of Brand and Business Development, served as the moderator for the event, and was joined by Chief Technology Officer, Kurt Dykema, and Twisthink Tech Scouts, Allen Shi and Uri Pachter.
Read some of the key takeaways from the virtual Q&A, or listen to the audio recording below.
What’s the purpose of tech scouting and how can it benefit businesses?
The purpose of tech scouting is to understand the impact of adjacent industries and emerging technologies, and how they fit into the customer experience. It should be an ongoing process. Tech scouting isn’t something you do once a year or once every couple years. It should be conducted regularly, building on existing themes and trends.
Tech scouting should be done with intention. Initially, the focus may be on identifying interesting technologies to pursue internally, but ultimately, it should involve actively engaging with startup companies to run pilot projects, concepts, or even look for investment opportunities.
Large corporations benefit from working with startups because they move quickly and have learned to fail and reiterate quickly. This is in contrast to large companies, which typically draw out the decision-making process.
Tech scouting is also important for learning about emerging technologies that may not be related to your specific industry today but could become prominent in the future. It’s important to have this kind of tool in a corporation that will get you up to speed with the latest trends in other industries that may find their way into yours.
The ultimate goal for businesses is a healthy and vibrant innovation pipeline. Tech scouting is a tool that can help achieve this, but it requires action and involvement rather than simply observing and watching.
How can you apply tech scouting to your business?
Tech scouting is part of innovation management of a corporation. It’s important to have boots on the ground who can survey the specific region and act as a bridge between the startup and corporate cultures. This person can connect the right people in the organization, including executive buy-in for top-down innovation. Make sure there’s a cross-functional team with different disciplines represented.
It’s also essential to have an open mindset and embrace open innovation. You should be open to partnerships and engaging with different companies that already have access to startup companies to help get things off the ground.
How can organizations overcome obstacles and adopt an effective open innovation mindset for tech scouting?
Achieving visibility within the organization is crucial. Many innovation teams and tech scouting groups operate in isolation, making it difficult for the rest of the organization to engage with startup companies. Another obstacle is the legal process, as large companies often overwhelm startup companies with lengthy contracts and legal documents, which may stifle innovation and slow down the decision-making process.
To overcome these challenges, organizations can adopt a human-centered design framework and apply the filter of desirability, technical feasibility, and business viability. This can help identify areas that need the most focus and allow for a more streamlined innovation process.
Additionally, it’s important to have a strategy in place before embarking on tech scouting. Understand the dynamics between corporations and startups and have clear communication channels within the organization. Startups operate on a different time cycle and need to move quickly, so organizations must be prepared to work at a faster pace than usual.
What are some of the trends within innovation and mobility you’re seeing today?
In Silicon Valley, there’s a lot of focus on autonomous technology, with companies like Tesla working on L4 and L5 autonomy. There’s also a lot of emphasis on the human-machine interface, with technologies around 5G and connectivity being used to improve communication between vehicles and infrastructure. Personalization is another trend, with companies like Hyundai and Kia exploring the use of AI to create a more tailored experience for drivers.
Data is also a key focus, with modern vehicles generating a massive amount of data that can be used for production, finance, automation, and smart cities. In addition to these trends, there’s also a growing interest in industry 4.0, which involves the digitization of manufacturing. This includes predictive analytics, robotics, IoT, cloud computing, and cybersecurity, which are all prominent in Israel.
How can businesses prepare themselves for the emergence of tech scouting and the speed of innovation and new technologies?
Engaging actively in the ecosystem and startup companies is a great way to prepare for the future. Being ahead of the curve is crucial, as trends and themes prepare businesses for 3-5 years down the road. It’s important to engage in tech scouting now to stay ahead of competitors who started looking at these technologies a while back.
Having a tech scout on the team and building connections can bring fresh fuel to the innovation process and help businesses see what’s possible today that wasn’t possible a year ago. It’s important to make tech scouting part of your strategy for building an innovation pipeline.
How do organizations measure success in their tech scouting efforts?
The metrics for measuring success in tech scouting can vary depending on the stage of the organization’s engagement with startup companies. For companies in the exploration phase, KPIs may focus on the number of startups sourced and engaged with. As they mature, they may shift to measuring the number of pilot projects or proof of concepts they run each year. For more experienced companies, success may be measured by the number of successful full-scale implementations or market integrations achieved through their startup engagements.
However, setting up concrete KPIs can be challenging, as success often depends on the buy-in and action of business units and executives within the organization. This is why having a strong strategy and the right mindset is crucial.
Some common challenges faced by organizations in measuring the success of their tech scouting efforts include the fear of failure, lack of executive buy-in, and difficulties in navigating the startup ecosystem. Having a scout who is familiar with the culture and ecosystem can be helpful in addressing these challenges. Ultimately, it’s important to focus on learning and iteration rather than being locked into specific KPIs or ROI metrics. Fear and creativity cannot exist in the same brain. Fear will crush creativity every time, so be very careful about letting fear creep into the process.
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About the panelists:
Taryn Kutches is the VP of Brand and Business Development. Committed to excellence and dedicated to driving results, Taryn has played an integral role in Twisthink’s continued expansion in the digital space. As a strategic thinker with a vision for success, Taryn leads the team in charting the course towards continued growth and greater global brand recognition.
Kurt Dykema is the Chief Technology Officer at Twisthink. Since 2001, Kurt has played a critical role in steering the company towards success and driving continued growth. As an expert in IoT trends, Kurt has a deep understanding of the rapidly evolving landscape of connected technology. He uses this knowledge to advise development and technology research, keeping Twisthink at the forefront of industry innovation.
Allen Shi is a Twisthink Tech Scout based in Silicon Valley, California. Allen understands how the tech capital of the world operates, from its innovation, collaboration, and risk-taking work to its venture capital investments. Allen is formerly a Senior Director of Corporate Partnerships, for Plug and Play Mobility and IoT, who has led teams focused on expansion activities across Silicon Valley, China, Korea, and France, and launched several joint ventures during his tenure. Since Plug and Play, Allen has worked as Chief Revenue Officer at Series A startup, LivNao, as well as VP of Business Development & Sales at engineering consulting firm, FTD solutions.
Uri Pachter is a Twisthink Tech Scout based in Tel Aviv, Israel. With more than 6,000 active startups in Tel Aviv—the most per capita in the world—Uri’s tech scouting expertise provides a necessary and valuable global lens to clients. Uri serves as a board member at Guardknox Cyber Technologies. His previous experience includes tech leadership roles with The Israel Export Institute and Seamless IoT.