We have all heard the research that states that 52% of companies in the Fortune 500 have either gone bankrupt, been acquired, or ceased to exist as a result of digital disruption since 2000. So how does a business constantly update themselves and their products to stay competitive and continue to offer their customers value? Innovation.
Innovation in the business world isn’t just about creating something that’s never been seen or done before. Innovation is the process that puts an invention or idea on the market where people are willing and able to pay for it. For a business to have truly done something innovative, they must have identified a unique need, they must be able to create a service/product to satisfy that need, and they must make potential clients aware of it.
Unlike previous generations, the barrier to creating new products and services is not being left to the titans of industry. In the not too distant past, product innovation required vast amounts of capital and brand equity. However, the accessibility of technology is making smaller organizations able to compete and often perform more agile than their more risk-averse, larger brethren. Consumers have become less brand loyal, and the ability for smaller organizations to offer personalization targeted to specific niches has proven a formidable challenge for larger organizations.
3 Ways to Innovate
While innovation isn’t easy, there are some basic techniques to keep in mind that will help you step outside the box and start being that leader rather than another imitator.
- Watch how customers use your product. Often customers will find new ways to use a product or service that the business may not originally have envisioned. Speaking to customers and observing how your products are used, allows organizations to evolve and market their products to a new audience to do exactly what it was “accidentally” discovered it could do — exposing your organization to new market growth opportunity.
- Combine products to add functionality. Sometimes all it takes is putting the benefits of two products together into one that can put it ahead of everyone else in the market. It wasn’t long ago that cellphone cameras were considered a rarity, but now it’s nearly impossible to find a cellphone without one. As Aristotle stated, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
- Collaborate with non-competitive businesses. Most businesses rely on other industries to supply materials to create new products or services. Those businesses that add support, or that are in entirely different industries can turn into a great partnership. Entirely new lines of businesses can be forged, and economies of scale are possible when a collaborative mindset is applied to the relationship. Rather than develop an adversarial relationship with vendors and suppliers, perhaps open a line of dialogue on how you can develop new emerging services or products together.
There is no reason to believe that the impending disruptive technologies that are coming will slow soon. And just imitating your competition will be insufficient for long-term success.
How are you introducing innovation into your organization?