Innovation & Technology
Meet "The Garage" — SER's innovation team
Garages have been a place of inspiration for many technology companies. This must be the reason why Microsoft, Apple, Google, Amazon, HP and SER all got their start in a garage. What could be more logical than to revive the concept of a garage? SER’s innovation team, The Garage, and its mission is driven by an entrepreneurial spirit, creativity and an openness to new things.
The Garage is a multinational and interdisciplinary team at SER committed to the topic of innovation. The name is reminiscent of the origins of several technology giants and of SER's own beginnings in a garage in Neustadt/Wied, Germany. The innovation team doesn’t find inspiration though in the smell of car oil and exhaust. "Our mission is to be a think tank that turns trends and ideas into innovations," says Markus D. Hartbauer, Chief Solution Architect of SER Österreich. He adds, "We want to be a catalyst for ideas."
Ideas evolve from many situations: when talking to a customer, potential customers and colleagues; when using software solutions; in daily work, etc. "Our tools are our open ears, eyes and minds and our joy in designing our future," says Markus, describing how the innovation team sees itself. "We gather ideas, also from employees and customers, and then analyze, assess and elaborate on them. The results are presented to management and product development on a regular basis."
The driving force behind SER's evolution
"Innovation has always driven SER's further development," comments Albert Baumberger, Managing Director of SER Schweiz, who has been a part of SER's success story for almost 20 years now. Groundbreaking milestones have marked SER's evolution from an archive specialist and digitalization expert to a visionary ECM platform vendor: There is Doxis4, with its pioneering architecture and unique way of connecting information, processing and collaboration. Another milestone is the Doxis4 Cognitive Services, which utilize artificial intelligence. And these are just a few examples. "We want to break new ground and continue SER's successful evolution. This is my motivation in the innovation team," says Albert.
Identifying trends — shaping the future
SER has always been a visionary. Most recently, the renowned market analysts at Gartner positioned SER as a “Visionary” in the Magic Quadrant for Content Services Platforms 2017. You can only be a visionary if you are open to future developments and are prepared to actively shape them. "That's why we observe a wide range of technological and social trends and assess which ones will impact the ECM market, our customers and SER. Based on our assessments, we develop possible solutions for our products," explains Marc Volquardsen, Presales Consultant and Product Manager. Some of the trends are:
- Alexa & Co.: Voice command technology is becoming an everyday tool for users — where and how does it make sense to apply it to ECM?
- Cars will drive autonomously in the future — so how can commuters take advantage of this newly won time and freedom?
- Robots and chat bots are becoming increasingly more common in a number of company areas — how will the Doxis4 Digital Workspace look in the future, when people and machines work together?
"Working with fellow SER colleagues is so inspirational for The Garage team. Together, we are able to take trends and create applications out of them that truly help our customers," comments Dominik Adams, technical journalist and Product Marketing Manager.
New technologies are just one aspect. Developments in society are changing the way we work and what business software requires. Case in point: smartphones, apps and social media are a given in all areas of life nowadays — including the working world. "Our vision is to support users in their digital work the best way possible. We can only achieve this if ECM applications are equally well customized to all kinds of users. This is how we want to get even more people excited about Doxis4," relates Marc (find out what personally motivates him to innovate here).
Ignition key: Open communication
The key to the innovation team's success is maintaining open lines of communication both within the team and with others. The team members meet regularly — virtually and in person — and rely on a diverse set of tools for communication.
For instance, they use an instant messaging app to discuss and further develop ideas. The app, which is time- and location-independent, is connected to SER’s ECM system. This is also a prototype for an ECM innovation in the planning. The Garage will also have access to an “Innovation Lab” for developing ideas. "This is a place where we can directly test new approaches and develop prototypes," explains Marc excitedly, "Sure, some of the lab work will be abandoned — that's normal in an innovation process. It's the opposite in product development, where we cannot allow ourselves to make any bad decisions — for the customers' sake."
The team's enthusiasm for innovation has already caught on at SER, as evident in the SERsatellite, the social intranet site, where The Garage is one of the most active groups with the highest number of followers. The intranet group enables colleagues to contribute their own ideas, openly discuss suggestions, and get frequent updates on the team's progress. "In our opinion, this transparency is crucial," maintains Markus, "because we want to get everyone in the company on board and, of course, integrate their experience into our innovation process."
The Garage opens its doors
At “Open Innovation”, a brainstorming workshop held at different SER offices, The Garage opens the doors to its think tank and invites colleagues and customers to join in. The visitors are given the opportunity to present their ideas and have an open discussion. "It's fascinating to have this exchange with customers and colleagues from so many different company areas. The intentionally short time frame and the open and intense atmosphere create a dynamic that enables us to expand on ideas very quickly," says Dominik, describing his experience at the Open Innovation.
"But we want to open ourselves up to even more ideas," adds Albert, "which is why we are inviting even more customers and partners to The Garage sessions — be it virtually or physically. We are really looking forward to inspiring them with our ideas and to creating a common vision for information management in the future."
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