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Bosch Senior Innovation Manager

I am an Intrapreneur at Bosch

Yanjia

At present, I am mainly incubating the smart hotel assistant project. This is a SaaS (software-as-a-service) solution based on Bosch’s IoT platform and voice technology. It is a new attempt to expand Bosch’s technology in the field of smart home and IoT into the field of hotel and long-term rental apartment with a new business model.

I am also responsible for driving in-house innovation. It includes conducting research, incubation and product development phases of new projects of Bosch (Shanghai) Smart Life Technology Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as RBLC), participating in cross-divisional projects within Bosch, and facilitating exchange and cooperation between Bosch and external partners (including transnational corporations, startups, incubators and universities). In addition, I will also coach and train the project teams in Bosch innovation platform.

From new product development, to new business incubation, and then to promotion of in-house innovation.

I joined Bosch in 2015. At the time, RBLC was just established, and four project teams were making the final push to incubate their products. Since I joined as a new business project manager and took charge of the product development and business incubation of a vehicle purification project, it had taken us another five months to successfully launch the product. After then, in the needs of business operation and project incubation, I transferred to be an innovation manager, and I have been doing this for more than 4 years.

Not every enterprise offers the practical opportunity from scratch.

Personally, I find it is interesting to be an innovation manager or product owner in an organization like RBLC. It is different from the general understanding of a job in a big foreign company. The business we focus on is always new and uncertain. Our project development methods and business processes are novel. Our daily work also changes fast. Therefore we have to keep stepping out of our comfort zone. We have to challenge, try, and do things we’re not familiar with, we’re not good at, or even we dislike in the beginning. Whenever I look back, I really feel that I have accumulated a wealth of experience, which is great.

Also, in an intrapreneurial environment like RBLC, we have many opportunities to solve practical problems. What I'm saying here is to “make your hands dirty”. As I just mentioned, when we use a new method to do a new project in a new field, although there are many tools and information that can be used for reference, we can only gradually figure out the most suitable method for our project and business when we do it ourselves.

Bosch has been thinking ahead for the digital transformation and the development of new business areas in the future.

The establishment of startups like RBLC is an important step for Bosch Group to establish its own innovation incubation system. Bosch turns entrepreneurial employees into makers, gives them a certain extent of freedom, and realizes the iteration from scratch through trial and error to screen out new business opportunities with real commercial value. Many large enterprises in the market use this intrapreneurial approach as a strategic tool for enabling innovative projects. Each enterprise takes a different approach due to different corporate cultures and conditions. The most important thing is to find the most suitable model in consideration of advantages of the enterprise. The diversified business composition of Bosch Group is conducive to interdisciplinary innovation, and the global layout of Bosch also offers many practicable market opportunities for innovation.

Our job doesn’t seem to be charming. Instead, we go through numerous hardships.

As we worked for intrapreneurial projects at RBLC, we had a very profound understanding of the "agile". When we developed IoT-related new products and businesses, the external market environment, user needs, competitors and sales channels changed quickly, which forced us to constantly and rapidly adjust our project plans and product positioning to adapt to these changes. From the preliminary market research, to the user interview, to the product solution definition, then to the proof of concept and the MVP (minimum viable product) verification, and to the improvement based on feedback on MVP before the secondary verification, the “agile development” approach was well suited for fast iteration and quick verification. After the product is successfully verified, the mature project management and quality management system of Bosch will be applied to the product development until the product is mass-produced and launched in the market successfully.

The successful launch of the product is definitely not the end. In addition to product promotion and sales, the project team also needs to keep an eye on user feedback and quickly improve the product accordingly. Especially for IoT products, there are many factors involved in good product experience, such as Internet speed, router, mobile operating system, and so on. Moreover, many users are not familiar with the operation of such products, so there will be various problems in practical use. Therefore, we will often provide customer service ourselves, and get to know the users’ questions. We will even visit our users to see how they actually use the product, and then help them solve the problem as soon as possible. Through these direct exchanges with users, we understand the real use habits of them, and obtain the first-hand valuable information for the optimization of the product. Of course, one of the benefits of IoT smart hardware is that it can be upgraded online. As a result, we continuously optimize the performance and experience of the product through continuous iteration and improvement to reduce the confusion of new users in use. Such direct experience and quick improvement are what I had seldom know about before.

Wish us success in our move from B2C to B2B.

This year, we mainly focus on the incubation of Bosch smart hotel solution. It aims to provide the Chinese hotel and long-term rental apartment industry with an intelligent room and property management platform to reduce costs, increase revenue and optimize efficiency. It is an exploration to expand from B2C to B2B and an attempt to innovate our business model. Therefore, our goal this year is to implement the solution successfully in the Chinese market.