Innovation: More than a Buzzword?

Racepoint Global

Written By Allison Frieden, Account Executive

Buzz, buzz, buzz – innovation is a word that’s thrown around all too frequently, especially within integrated marketing agencies. While everyone is striving to be innovative and an innovator, has the word lost its value?

Last week, I went to MITX’s latest Disruptive Innovator Series event which focused on the Anatomy of an Innovator. The event was moderated by The Boston Globe’s Scott Kirsner and featured panelists from GE’s Open Innovation Program Impact Leader Ann Marie Dumais, Lab of Forward Thinking’s (a division of Manulife and John Hancock) AVP and Head of Innovation, Ace Moghimi and Eastern Bank Lab’s Chief Digital Officer, Dan O’Malley. Everything from how to collect innovative ideas from employees to what it truly means to break the mold was discussed among the panelists and an interactive Q&A with attendees.


Typically when people think about being innovative, they think about the creative side of the puzzle or something shiny and new. GE’s Ann Marie Dumais opened up that notion to interpretation by sharing that “Innovation isn’t always a new product. It’s about learning how we solve a problem.” She also shared that she refrains from using the word “innovation” – she believes it implants a specific concept of what people believe they must do in order to achieve success.

To avoid getting paralyzed in the fretful state of how to be truly innovative, there’s a fine balance between quickly solving the issue and looking at the larger picture. With each new scenario comes a new set of challenges, each requiring a unique approach. There is no one right answer. There is no one right approach. There is no one right perspective.

Companies in industries that typically don’t have much room for “innovation” continue to amaze me. I remember when Netflix started and I received DVDs in my mailbox (yes, in the physical mail!). This was back when there were only two options: receive DVDs via snail mail or pay a higher price to stream a very limited number of movies online. As more online streaming services became available (some legal and some not so legal… I’m looking at you Pirate Bay), Netflix had to do something new to solve its business conundrum. Today, the Netflix we’ve all come to know has truly reinvented itself. It not only still has its basic core service offerings but has expanded to reach its customers in ways that are most convenient to them. Through the creation of original TV series, Netflix has also tapped into one of the most underutilized consumer desires – the craving to binge watch new content and spend endless hours watching old favorites (hello Gilmore Girls marathon!).

The sharing economy has certainly seen its fair share of innovation from Uber to AirBnB. There’s a new company in the Boston area that has caught my eye and is taking sharing spaces to a new level in the business world. At the MITX event, I met Sidney Baptista of Boston-based sharing economy company, Breather. While there are many co-working business spaces available, such as WeWork and Workbar, Breather decided to take the concept to a new level. This company owns spaces throughout the Boston area that can be rented for $20 an hour to host meetings or even just to take a “breather” to get away from the fast-paced world for a few minutes. We frequently run into the issue here of trying to find a room to have a client call and every room is booked solid. Sidney told me about a Breather spot at 33 Broad Street (just two streets over) where my colleagues and I can meet at any time.

I learned a lot from last week’s event and got to connect with some really amazing people who are at the top of their game. The best piece of advice I can share when it comes to solving the issue of innovation is to actively participate in every brainstorm, continually improve your domain knowledge and surround yourself with people from all walks of life.