Q&A with Michelle Garcia Dorminey
Vice President, Innovation
TrueCar, Inc.

Michelle Garcia Dorminey, Vice President, Innovation, at TrueCar, Inc., will be presenting the Capstone – The Labor Crisis: Breaking Through Significant Barriers to Innovation and Growth, at The Innovation Workshop and Tour: A Quarterly Series, hosted by the Frost & Sullivan Growth Innovation Leadership Council. The event will take place at MIT InnovationHQ, MIT’s new hub for innovation and entrepreneurship, on May 17, 2023. Space is limited, so you’ll want to register soon if you’d like to join us!

Ahead of the event, Michelle answered these timely questions about innovation today:

  1. What do you see as the top two challenges to technological innovation for companies today?

One challenge to technological innovation is creating a culture of learning and adaptability. A company’s competitive advantage can quickly become a commodity, which means innovation is critical for sustained success. Developing and deploying innovative solutions requires an adaptive workforce with a learning mindset. Companies pursuing innovation and growth should invest in upskilling their workforce and fostering a culture where a learning mindset can thrive, one of open communication, experimentation, and risk-taking.

Another challenge to technological innovation is balancing innovation priorities with data privacy concerns. Companies leveraging new technologies and creating stickier experiences collect and process massive amounts of user data. Data privacy and security are critical to building and maintaining customer trust and compliance with evolving regulations. Companies must adopt a privacy-by-design approach to address this challenge, implementing strong data protection measures from the ground up through data encryption, securing data storage, and access controls. Furthermore, companies should promote a culture of data protection awareness among employees and collaborate with external stakeholders to develop industry-wide standards and best practices.

  1. Are AI applications and innovation a dangerous pairing? Best scenarios for success or pitfalls to beware of?

AI will be a driving force in innovation for the foreseeable future. The best scenarios for success involve leveraging AI to improve efficiency, drive better decision-making, and create personalized customer experiences. For example, AI can optimize supply chain management by predicting demand, identifying bottlenecks, and reducing waste. In healthcare, AI can improve diagnostics and enable personalized treatment plans for patients. To maximize the benefits of AI, companies should invest in research and development and ensure collaboration between AI experts and domain specialists.

The danger in AI lies with how companies approach development and deployment. One of the oldest axioms in software engineering is “Garbage In, Garbage Out.” In other words, an AI’s output will be equally flawed if the data fed into it is biased, incorrect, or toxic. Unintended bias and incorrect output can perpetuate systemic inequalities, reinforce stereotypes, and promote discriminatory practices. Data fed into AI algorithms is also not always private, and there’s potential for job displacement. Companies must approach the development and deployment of AI with caution. Engaging diverse teams in development, investing in bias detection and mitigation tools, actively seeking end-user feedback, and prioritizing transparency will all go a long way toward sustaining trust with employees and customers. By proactively addressing these challenges, organizations can ensure responsible AI adoption and avoid some unintended consequences.

  1. What are some strategies to break through the barriers of the current labor crisis for companies pursuing innovation and growth?

Organizations face unprecedented challenges in navigating the labor crisis in today’s rapidly changing business landscape. As companies pursue innovation and growth, adopting strategies that attract top talent and ensure a sustainable workforce for the future is essential. One such strategy is to invest in technology and automation that streamlines processes, enhances productivity, and reduces dependence on manual labor. Another strategy is identifying intrapreneurs and fostering an environment that encourages employees to spearhead innovative initiatives.

A company culture that fosters learning and growth is pivotal in overcoming the labor crisis. An inclusive, diverse, and innovative culture entices top talent and nurtures their creativity and collaborative spirit. By promoting a sense of belonging and alignment with the company’s values, companies can retain employees who are engaged, loyal, and invested in its growth. Additionally, promoting internal mobility can empower employees to explore new roles and develop new skills, ultimately strengthening the organization’s capacity for innovation. By facilitating cross-functional exposure and collaboration, companies can harness their workforce’s collective knowledge and expertise to break through the barriers of the labor crisis and accelerate growth in a competitive market.

  1. Sales innovation is a term you don’t hear much, but it can be very useful for promoting a new product or service, in new ways and/or new markets.  Can you speak to this?

Sales innovation involves optimizing existing sales practices to meet the needs of today’s customers. Companies often prioritize customer-centric strategies such as real-time data-driven decision-making, social media, and content marketing. Subscription-based sales models, cross-selling, upselling, gamification, and “try before you buy” experiences are popular strategies that enable businesses to adapt to changing market conditions, maximize revenue from existing customers, and reach new customer segments.

However, successful sales innovation depends on both the customer and the employee. Equipping sales teams with the right technology and a comprehensive understanding of products and services is critical to driving sales innovation. Immersive technologies like virtual and augmented reality can provide more engaging and effective training experiences, helping sales representatives develop adaptive selling skills and a deeper understanding of customer needs and preferences. By investing in both customers and employees, companies can create a robust sales ecosystem that caters to evolving market demands and customer expectations, positioning themselves for long-term success.

Don’t miss The Innovation Workshop and Tour: A Quarterly Series, hosted by the Frost & Sullivan Growth Innovation Leadership Council.  It’s a unique opportunity to connect with and learn from industry leaders ready to share experiences and insights you can apply to your own organization. Collaborative sessions on critical innovation issues will abound, capped off by a tour of MIT’s world-class innovation headquarters.




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