Software engineers as innovators
Often innovation is seen as something that belongs to design teams or marketing experts. In this blog post I will give ideas on how software engineers could be active and driving innovators in companies.
What is innovation?
It is a way to transform ideas into new and improved products, services or processes. Innovations are imperative for companies to stay competitive and to even stay alive.
Why are software engineers crucial to innovations?
Software engineers implement products and services which can represent innovations. However, they should not only implement features which are specified by others. Instead, they should actively participate in innovation processes and come up with their own ideas, because they have relevant and broad technical knowledge. Their thinking is also usually down to earth, which means that their ideas have high potential to become reality. After all, they usually implement these ideas themselves.
Cooperation and Environment
Others, like product designers or marketing experts, might be more independent free thinkers. When you combine this free thinking with strong technical knowledge of engineers, only the sky’s the limit. However, these different parties must not fight each other despite often very different mindsets, but cooperate respectfully and with an open mind. Also regular cooperation with product management, testing and customer support is extremely helpful.
Prerequisite is that the company provides a suitable environment. Innovation should be a company value. Other values could be ‘can do attitude’, ‘open mind’, ‘learning from mistakes’, ‘continuous learning’ etc. Also inspiring office spaces help to spark creativity, like at Bitfactor with collaboration spaces, quiet zones, break and gaming rooms etc..
Here are some practical tips for promoting innovation-friendly culture:
- Make sure that the software engineers co-operate on a regular basis with other parties like design, marketing, product management, testing and customer support.
- Let your employees use a certain percentage of the working time for experimentation. For example, Google lets employees use 20% of their time working on what they think will most benefit Google. This is done to increase creativity and innovations.
- Let software engineers prototype completely new solutions independently or together with other units. To speed up the prototyping you can utilize Low-Code No-Code (LCNC) development platforms and AI aided SW development tools, such as Kite or TabNine.
- Organize regularly innovation workshops where people can brainstorm and use other creative methods, like storyboarding or mind mapping, to come up with fresh new ideas.
- Establish idea databases and innovation management tools for employees to add ideas for the company at any time.
- Provide employees with trend news in order to keep them informed and spark new ideas.
To sum up
Innovation is not something that happens when you just wait for it. You should create a mindset, an environment, tools and processes, which support and foster innovation. At Bitfactor we value innovation-friendly culture and can-do-attitude.