Beginning of a New Era in Innovation & Future of Hellon

The year 2023 was eventful in many ways. What we have been experiencing is a series of systemic, dramatic changes or shocks that are shaping our societies and economies. These shocks create interconnected waves of changes in our everyday lives, shaping our beliefs, our perception of what we believe is valuable and meaningful, and finally, our needs as human beings, consumers, and businesses.

What are the key trends shaping the future of innovation, and how are we preparing our strategy to confront what is coming? Uncover Hellon's strategic responses in our CEO Jaakko Wäänänen's insightful blog.

Hellon employee group photo

The world has been experiencing a series of shocks since the beginning of Covid-19. On top of all this, we have the most challenging and crucial times in fighting for the Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN for 2030.

These events have led to an environment where leaders are having a harder time successfully navigating and leading their businesses. Because of the complexity of the problems and the interconnectivity of businesses as modern ecosystems of value creation, we need to introduce new ways for successful innovation and business transformation.

Luckily we have new assets in use as GenAI helps humans solve problems. With a bit more than a year since the launch of ChatGPT, we are just about to start to see and witness the most significant business transformation ahead of us.

Goldman Sachs economists predict that GenAI could boost U.S. labor productivity growth by 1.5 percentage points annually for a decade, potentially adding trillions to the global economy. A Nielsen Norman Group study further illustrates this, citing a 66% increase in employee productivity due to GenAI. Furthermore, McKinsey estimates that GenAI could automate up to 70% of business activities across various occupations by 2030, adding trillions of dollars in value to the global economy. Moreover, a separate study finds a 40% improvement in performance for highly skilled workers using GenAI.

No one yet knows for sure how much of a leap we have ahead in terms of productivity increase, but the change ahead of us is dramatic.

Future trends and Hellon's strategic responses

Based on our insights, I created a list of the most critical developments to analyze further what is changing in the market, and how we respond to these developments with our strategy.

The design thinking and innovation consulting market is evolving rapidly, and several key developments are expected to shape its direction by 2030.

1. Increased Emphasis on Digital Solutions and Technology Integration:

As we know, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation across industries. This shift is expected to continue, with a growing demand for consulting services that can integrate digital technologies into various business operations and strategies.

→ The acquisition of Graend by Hellon nearly 18 months ago was one of our responses to this challenge. Despite the challenging economic environment throughout 2023, with world-class end-to-end innovation service offerings today, Hellon Group has been able to double its revenue and team size to 100 people organically.

2. Focus on Sustainable and Socially Responsible Solutions:

There is a rising awareness and demand for sustainability and social responsibility in business operations. Consulting firms will likely need to offer solutions that not only drive profitability but also address environmental concerns and social inequalities.

→ In our strategy, we are accelerating this shift in 2 ways. For one, building embedded ethical design practices and identifying cases with our clients where significant environmental or societal impact can be made simultaneously while creating significant business impact (Like our Yara project that won the FastCompany Innovation by design Award in 2023). However, we recognize that during these challenging economic times, “sustainability” is not selling itself, as shown by IDEO's experience, where sustainability services contributed minimally to revenue despite a complete focus on sustainability.

Our analysis at Hellon is that sustainable impact needs to be embedded in our consulting efforts, delivering sustainable impact with the financial impact, but not alone.

3. Adaptability and Agile Methodologies:

The pace of change in the business world is accelerating, leading to a need for greater adaptability and agility in organizational strategies and operations. Consultants must be adept at implementing agile methodologies that allow for rapid iteration and adaptation in response to changing market conditions.

→ This is one of the core messages to our clients and an area we constantly strengthen our capabilities; we live in a very volatile and unpredictable world that calls for agile, adaptable strategies. We help our clients navigate and succeed in this environment. In our operations, we are constantly making the strategic part of our competence and offering more agile and adaptive thus showing the way for our clients in practice.

4. Customization and Personalization:

As businesses strive to meet the specific needs of their diverse customer bases, there will be a greater demand for customized and personalized solutions. This trend requires consulting firms to develop deep insights into customer behavior and preferences and to tailor their services accordingly.

→ This has been at the core of our way of doing customer-centric development since the beginning. For example, with our in-house AI tools for innovation (since 2017), we are able to form need-based customer segments at scale.

As we speak, we are also developing a globally first-of-its-kind analysis tool for measuring Customer Loyalty in the future. Regarding digital solutions, customized experiences at scale will undoubtedly be one key theme for the future.

5. Complex Problem-Solving and Systems Thinking:

With increasingly complex business challenges, the ability to engage in complex problem-solving and systems thinking will become crucial. Consultants will need to understand and navigate complex systems, identify interdependencies, and devise holistic solutions that address multiple facets of a problem.

→ This is at the heart of Hellon Group’s competence strategy now and in the future. The collaboration with Yara, represents a great example of Industry 5.0, the next and most significant industrial transformation of our lifetime. According to the EU, the European economy is losing 110 billion Euros yearly because of a too-slow transformation towards Industry 5.0.

6. Emphasis on Implementation and Measurable Impact:

There is growing skepticism about the effectiveness of traditional consulting models, which often focus on ideation over execution. The market will likely favor firms that generate not only innovative ideas but also the ability to demonstrate a solid capability to implement these ideas and measure their impact.

→ Our clients today and tomorrow will demand sharp strategic and systemic analysis and quick-delivered solutions that create measurable impact, which is why this is the core of our Hellon Group strategy and core competence. Our collaboration with the Finnish Blood Donation Service, the global Vodafone Group, and many other successful relationships represent great examples.

7. Cross-Disciplinary Expertise and Collaborative Approaches:

The challenges businesses face are becoming more interdisciplinary, necessitating expertise across various domains. Consultants will need to collaborate across disciplines and industries to develop comprehensive solutions.

→ At Hellon, we are at the heart of this approach. We are a multidisciplinary team with end-to-end capability. Some clients call us integrators. The Fast Company called us the “surprising middleman” as they awarded us the Winner of 7-14 years of innovation agencies globally. Nevertheless, the change our clients are after is always a systemic transformation by nature, and they expect a high impact.

8. Human-Centric Design and Empathy:

While technology will play a crucial role, there will be an increasing emphasis on human-centric design and empathy. Understanding the end user's needs and experiences will be the key to developing effective solutions.

→ Over ten years ago, we created a slogan for Hellon: “Human-to-Human Business”. This slogan encapsulated our view of what all business, value creation, collaboration, services, and success ultimately is. It is all human-to-human how value is created and perceived. This has been and continues to be at the core of our DNA.

As the technology will advance with GenAI and quantum computing faster than ever before, we need more human centricity than ever to harness the technology in a way that we can create real, sustainable growth that is relevant and that matters to people.

“Be the best in the market. It's the only market that's not crowded.”

- George Whalin

George Whalin once said: “Be the best in the market. It´s the only market that´s not crowded.” I quite like this quote and it has been a source of inspiration and aspiration for me and us at Hellon.

As we work towards making Hellon the future best in the market, we are focusing on balancing technological expertise with a deep understanding of human behavior, societal needs, and environmental considerations. The capability to not only envision but also effectively implement and measure the impact of solutions is a defining factor in the success of tomorrow and that we deliver already today to our clients.

There are three keywords behind the secret recipe of Hellon´s success: Culture, Technology, and Impact. Keep these words in mind. Changes are coming as we enter the new year and our renewed Hellon brand is published; we will get back to this soon.

If you are interested to spar with me or my colleagues, on how your business might win the market with the a customer value oriented approach, please don´t hesitate to drop us a note below.

We wish everyone Happy Holidays and optimistic, innovative thoughts and actions for the coming year!

Jaakko Wäänänen

Founder, Hellon

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