Innovation is a term that applies to a variety of things in society today. We can see its impact in the health sector where virtual health care services are being embraced, in the transportation sector where a car hailing services like uber with new business models are dominating the transport industry, and in the technology space with the emergence of trends such as Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, cloud storage, big data and artificial intelligence (AI) are gaining grounds.
In business, innovation is the fuel that ignites the creation of value, efficiency, productivity, and profitability. But this is not without risk.
Over the past five years, we have experienced a series of changes to status quo based on several innovative initiatives. It is interesting to note that these initiatives may not entirely be new but rather mere adjustments to existing processes which aim at enhancing and improving the quality of life and business services. Forward thinking businesses understand that innovation is indeed a long-term process rather than an abrupt revolution.
Market places are becoming highly competitive due to accessibility to information and technology. Businesses are constantly thinking of new ideas and ways of delivering services or products for sale. It is, therefore, crucial to clearly define the key processes that need to be in place. The real issue is defining the “what and how”?
To understand the “what” behind innovative initiatives, the business needs to answer the following questions:
What are the business’ goals and how would innovation help to achieve these goals?
What are competitors focusing on?
What are the risks (low and high) involved in implementing certain initiatives and their mitigants?
Is there a market for these new innovations?
How do we develop a product or service to fit into this new market?
What resources do we require as a business to take on new initiatives?
While there many approaches to tackling product development, there is an easier solution. It has to do with understanding the present and describing the future. After gathering enough information on present trends, analysing potential risks or threats, the next thing is to analyse and communicate findings to business decision-makers. Based on these findings, initiating a new idea or product should be easier. This process is referred to as ‘horizon scanning’.
Horizon scanning in business does not only prepare businesses for the eventuality of disruption, as in the current climate, but it is useful in terms of defining your next move.
How can business leverage innovation?
Reinvent existing processes- not all innovations have to start from scratch. If anything, the post pandemic period has shown that most companies remained afloat by adjusting their pre-existing actions and processes. Video conferencing tools have always been in existence but not fully utilized as onsite work was the status quo. However, most companies began to take advantage of the efficiency these tools could provide for them during the pandemic.
Imbibe innovation into existing organisational culture- a business where innovation is part of their core values find it easier to adapt and move with new initiatives. This is because culture connotes a repeatable process which tends to create an enabling environment for new ideas.
Focus on customer’s insights- a huge part of innovation depends on the feedbacks gotten from customers. Business should not only innovate for innovation sake but should take time to understand the current needs of the market to achieve business goals.
Encourage a collective effort- when businesses perform well, it can be traced back to the team or people behind the initiatives. Hence, it is important to get everybody on deck with innovative processes. Requesting feedback from employees can go a long way especially in small team.
Invest in technology- Often times, most innovative initiatives rely on technology for smooth implementation. Businesses have to plan ahead and set aside funds to optimise or purchase new tools or platforms that encourage innovation.
Now more than ever, the market is changing and businesses should begin planning on how to strategically get onboard with new initiatives and advancement in technology so as not to be left behind. In the coming weeks, we will focus on actionable steps for businesses who are ready to take their innovative initiatives to the next level.
In summary, it is imperative that companies put ongoing innovation front and centre if they want to grow and remain competitive. However, creating sustainable competitive advantages will pay off in the long run.
We at OVAC Group can help with you developing strategies to transform innovative initiatives into actionable goals that align with your product development plans and horizon scanning. Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation with our team specialists.