Re-imagining innovation in the new normal using digital platforms such as XR

Research has shown innovation decreased during COVID19 due to teams being unable to replicate dynamics of being together in the same room but what impact might technologies such as XR have on this?

Welcome to Snobal Midweek. This is where we share our update of what we're hearing, sharing and thinking about this week. As always if you find Snobal Midweek of value, please comment, forward or share.


It’s Snobal Midweeks first post for 2021 and it’s already the end of Jan. How did that happen?! While the end of the year tends to cause people to pause and reflect. A New Year can bring an impetus to renew and refocus. And so too at Snobal, where we are currently busy planning for our upcoming Annual Strategy Day. And of course as part of our Strategy Day it’s got us thinking on all things fostering communication, productivity, team work / life balance, collaboration and of course innovation in the year ahead.

Innovation down?
So innovation. According to research by University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School innovation in business decreased during COVID19.

The culprit? Digital platforms like video conferencing unable to “replicate the dynamics of being together in the same room” collaborating and "feeding off the energy of co-workers”.

“It’s a challenge to feel connected, confident, and communicate effectively with the team, and we know from a lot of research that creativity and innovation largely happen through collaboration…” - Professor Michael Parke, Wharton Management

The study, commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by Boston Consulting Group and KRC Research polled 9,000 managers and employees in large companies in 15 markets across Europe, with aprox 600 respondents per country.

According to Parke there are three steps companies can take to overcome the innovation challenge - train employees to work remotely effectively; prioritize connecting with your team and finally (our favourite we have to admit) give employees a choice of a wide range of collaborative tools.

Don’t limit them to Zoom or email, but onboard a number of different platforms so that each employee can find what suits them.

Learn more


Digital platforms driving new ways of thinking?

Other collaborative research from Singapore Management University, Harvard University and INSEAD explores the impact of the Covid‐19 pandemic on technology and innovation management research.

The paper looks at changes in assumptions underlying theories of innovation. But it also touches on how collaboration and communication drive innovative behaviour and how potentially digital platforms (and we would like to include virtual reality and augmented reality in this) may drive a different form of innovation, if you like.

what is unclear is how much of that can be replicated or bettered in online contexts. Could conformity pressures that induce groupthink be less prevalent in virtual groups? Can rapid iteration and prototyping with boundary objects be feasible online? Will collaboration patterns change in terms of co‐producers of knowledge? Virtual work might nudge individual exploration patterns such that the locus of search shifts from co‐located offices to geographically distant colleagues.

Which begs us to leave you with one question.

What collaborative tools are you providing your team? And how can your business foster better team and customer collaboration - and innovation?

In case you missed it

VR in classroom: Results of a study on the use of a virtual reality (VR) world in a German language classroom found students reported an improvement in their listening skills, learning vocabulary, general fluency,and improving pronunciation and reading skills.  Read more.

Arrival of Apple VR headset ? Apple plans on releasing a virtual reality (VR) headset as a bridge to AR reports Bloomberg this week. Does this mean market dominance for Apple in the XR hardware space? Read more.

Real lessons from Kodaks’ decline [archives]: Speaking of market dominance it’s also worth reflecting on lessons from the business graveyard. Read more.

Cautiously optomistic: Wunderman Thompson Intelligence looks at how big change is in motion in their trends and change to watch in 2021. Read more.

What exactly will 2021 bring for startups? Here’s a list of 20 UK industry experts predictions. Read more.

Accelerating pace of XR: XR is shown no sign of slowing. Worldwide spending on augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) is forecast to accelerate out of the pandemic, growing from just over $12.0 billion in 2020 to $72.8 billion in 2024. Key focal areas - corporate learning, training and education. Read more.

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