Nikos Acuña

Nikos Acuña: Fuel Your DX With Creativity, Innovation #DXS15

3 minute read
Joab Jackson avatar

People often think having a brilliant idea is like having an epiphany. It just pops into your head, like the apple suddenly knocking notions of gravity into Isaac Newton's noggin.

But really, by Nikos Acuña's reckoning, a good idea is more like a network of connections, the leading tip of many interlaced ideas from people thinking about a problem at hand. Even Newton himself admitted that his work stood on the "sholders [sic] of giants."

Acuña ponders innovation quite a bit: He synthesized his ideas in "Mindshare: Igniting Creativity and Innovation Through Design Intelligence," published in 2012.

And at CMSWire's inaugural DX Summit in Chicago on Nov. 3 and 4, Acuña will share some thoughts about how innovation happens and how companies can harness innovation to propel growth.

“I'll be talking about redefining engagement — how to understand innovation in a more optimal way, how we can leverage emerging technologies to create an optimal experience,” Acuña said.

The Creativity Conundrum

For companies, especially mature ones, maintaining innovation can be a challenge, though keeping the pipeline filled with fresh ideas is vital to maintain growth.

“Innovation gets stymied without the right kind of corporate mindset,” Acuña said. Most organizations already have mature workflow processes, ones that determine employee actions through the day. While efficient, these baked-in processes leave little room for employee creativity.

Companies get can stymied when there is a great amount of infrastructure where rigorous processes can't be moved,” Acuña said. “It's a lot harder to disrupt these organizational processes.”

Google is revered for giving its engineers 20 percent of their work time to work on personal project. Although the search engine giant has officially discontinued the practice, Google, and its innovation-seeking parent company Alphabet, still fosters a great deal of creativity.

'Ideas Having Sex'

To foster innovation, companies need to provide something along the lines of what Acuña calls “white space.”

Learning Opportunities

The white space is the room, both physical and mental, that people need to bring all their ideas together, so they can ferment into innovation process that Matt Ridley calls “ideas having sex.”

“This is where new ideas are born, where different ideas come together and are amplified,” Acuña said.

There is a certain fractal-like similarity between how human mind arrives at a new idea, using familiar elements but in a novel way to create new neural pathways, and how a group of team can innovate by exchanging ideas.

Capitalizing on AI

By day Acuña works as a solution architect for Redwood City, Calif.-based Rocket Fuel (his official title is director of business strategy), which helps Fortune 500 companies build out digital marketing platforms.

The company is pushing forward the state of the art through artificial intelligence (AI). Companies are already harvesting tons of user generated data, which can be studied by machine learning algorithms to present nuanced views previously considered impossible.

"I'm not the same person I was at 7:30 a.m. that I am at 11:30 a.m., after I've had my coffee. If you give me an ad it may mean something different at 7:30 a.m. than it would at 11:30 a.m.," he said, explaining how AI could be used to make sharper decisions about opportunities.

Acuña and Rocket Fuel are pushing forward the state of digital experience in some interesting ways. If you'd like to learn more about it, Nikos Acuña will be speaking at the DX Summit in Chicago on Nov. 3. Find out more here.

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