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Mastering the art of failure: Learning to become an adaptive organization



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You can be sure that if you are not innovating, someone else is – and in potentially disruptive ways. That is the harsh but essential lesson this rapidly-moving, ultra-competitive digital age has taught us. Speed of thought and anticipation is vital but so too is speed of action, bolstered by the powerful insights made available to us by data.


This was one of the primary concerns discussed at the recent FT Innovate conference in London, where I was among business leaders and digital pioneers who gathered to share thoughts and experiences on where this always-on, intricately-connected and data-enhanced world is headed. And how companies like ours are adapting to embrace these massive changes, often leading to a fundamental redesign of innovation practices and culture.

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What became obvious from the shared dialogues was that entire business strategies are being radically altered to reflect this overriding need to innovate, launch and scale at lightning speed. We talked about the imperative of having not a “digital strategy” but rather a “business strategy for the digital age”. Such transformational changes are not easy to cope with, especially when business and innovation models have remained largely unmodified for most of the company’s life.

Our learning experience at Philips over the past few years has been both disruptive and inspirational. From a consumer business model that was essentially transactional – selling products, receiving payment in return and having little consumer interaction thereafter – we are now becoming a digitally-focused business with a start-up mentality that builds ongoing, real-time and personal relationships with consumers through our products.


A business in which we partner up across functions to create new innovations, where we dare to bring solutions to market and then continue to iterate them, where our approach is far more agile because our teams are far more entrepreneurial. Where instead of thinking purely on hardware, we also drive software-based innovation to deliver smart propositions that open up new value creation and business model opportunities.

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It’s not easy to transform a business and it will not happen overnight. But there are four essential lessons we can draw from our journey so far, which address some of the key challenges companies face during this transformation.


Firstly, it is about ensuring that everyone understands what “digital” means and how the company intends to embrace it. Digital isn’t just about sales and marketing; it impacts the entire organization as we take advantage of digital technologies to re-invent how consumers engage with our brand and our products.

AlbertoPrado new

Alberto Prado

Vice President, Head of Digital Innovation, Philips Consumer Lifestyle

In his role as Head of Digital Innovation at Philips Consumer Lifestyle, Alberto is responsible for driving digital propositions that enhance the consumer experience and deliver new business model opportunities by leveraging connectivity, data and mobile.


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