How COWI got a clear direction in digital innovation and new business models

Using an innovation playground to score ideas

Digitalization can undermine existing business models – or strengthen them. We helped the world-leading consulting group COWI build a model to identify digital ideas and services that add value for customers.

COWI is a world leading consulting group within engineering, economics and environmental science. As many companies, they are challenged by new entrants and changed customer behavior. In the construction industry, disruptive new players are challenging the business models of traditional companies. Countering this, engineering consultancies have invested heavily in automation to gain efficiency. However, a high degree of efficiency together with small increases in hourly rates for the last 20 years puts the consultancy business model under heavy pressure.

 More traditional companies need to figure out what new services can add value that customers are prepared to pay for. The degree of innovation, new digital services, clear customer values and new business models are critical to stay relevant in the long run.

 COWI recognized the need for innovation and decided to partner with Ojity to identify what new digital services can gain new revenue streams, without jeopardizing the current revenue streams.

The innovation playground offers a clear outside-in perspective that supports spending money in the right way, increasing speed, lowering business risk and staying relevant.

As a result we needed to find a way to gradually develop and innovate existing services, instead of focusing purely on automation that replaces the current services. The digital services that we identified as the strongest candidates were those that support the COWI employees in their interactions with customers, enabling them to deliver more value.

To succeed, alignment with top management was crucial why we spent time to get their buy-in. We worked closely with both COWI and their customers to identify the most important customer needs that COWI could address. Combining business strategy and customer needs gave us a clear strategic model for idea prioritization. We analyzed, scored and came to a conclusion for what ideas to focus on – the innovation playground. It works like a litmus paper showing what ideas to prioritize.

The innovation playground helps COWI to pursue the right digital initiatives and spend their effort where it makes the most sense for business strategy and customer needs. It offers a clear outside-in perspective that supports spending money in the right way, increasing speed, lowering business risk and staying relevant.

In addition to the innovation playground we delivered a strategic definition of what digitalization means for COWI. An important milestone to create a stronger foundation and shared vision for the digital transformation within the organization.