If you want to have an edge over your competitors, then you as a business leader must always remain diligent in how you innovate your business. As technology contiues to reshape how organizations are run, it is critical that you use every technique and tool at your disposal to ensure that you are not left behind
What is business innovation?
Business innovation is when a company finds new ideas, inventions, methods, strategies, or processes that they can implement into their business that either generates more revenue, or makes their business more efficient. Very often, companies can become complacent (or even lazy) which allows competitors to enter the market and gain market share over them.
Innovative Ideas Are Not Enough
In order to convert a good idea into concrete results , it is necessary to analyze it, plan its realization into a product and put in place processes to be able to bet on innovation.
According to many thought leaders on innovation, Innovative ideas are therefore not enough, you have to go beyond them and be able to implement them, which involves financial resources, time and skills. In other words, in order to be able to innovate, you need an efficient economic model, giving yourself the means to drive innovation either directly or by delegating to competent personnel.
Stay Ahead Of Your Competitors
By focusing on innovation, you place your company in a dominant position versus your competitors. A company like Apple demonstrates this on a daily basis.
Apple crushed the competition by investing heavily in technological innovation. Its exploitation of micro-technology has enabled it to take a competitive advantage unequaled for ten years in the micro-computing sector (computer and smartphone).
The release of each new product, containing real new innovations, gives rise to intense media hype and forces its competitors to run behind the Apple brand in order to stay in the race.
Innovation relies primarily on internal research and development (R&D) or, failing that, on the purchase of patents and licenses. R&D is not an adjustment variable but the engine of the company which must devote a significant part of its turnover to it (around 10% per year) and make it feature prominently in its business plan and its financial forecast. It is the development of new products or their improvement that mechanically drives the rest of the company’s activity: production, marketing, sales, etc.
At a recent business conference, many speakers on leadership suggested that to achieve and maintain the best ranks in one’s field of activity, it is essential to invest massively in research and staff training.
Good Innovation Must Remain Balanced
Although essential, the innovation strategy must fit into the overall strategy of the company and not weigh disproportionately on its activity. Several criteria must be taken into account in order to adjust the strategy and are evaluated by the SWOT matrix.
R&D costs must be made profitable by the commercialization of the products. It is necessary to chisel its market study before embarking on innovation:
- What is the real commercial potential of this novelty?
- Will it be accepted by consumers?
- How will you promote it?
- How can you effectively protect your innovation?
- What is the cost of filing a patent?
- Until when to run it?
- Should operating licenses be granted to third parties?
- Create a partnership in order to better bear the risks by pooling them?
It is by answering these questions that the strategy is adjusted and modulated according to the needs, the capacities of the company and the real state of the market.
There are several schools of innovation processes but globally all agree that innovation is the rationalization of the imagination.
The imagination or creativity is nurtured, fueled by the person’s own ideas and ideas that float in the air of the times, in the daily environment, in the DAS, etc.
This is why it is important to submit your ideas because it is not uncommon to see two people have the same idea. The one who will be able to take advantage of it is first of all the one who will have deposited it. The example of the struggle between Tesla and Edison should be pondered.
Having an idea is good, but you still have to rationalize it to make it happen and take advantage of it! This is where the second part of the innovation process comes in: studying the financial, economic and technical feasibility and studying the market to which to offer this novelty .
Innovation is always confronted in the last instance with profitability, which may be more or less long term, but which guides the innovation strategy.
Innovation is inseparable from the marketing approach to such an extent that a new field called “innovation marketing” has emerged. It is declined in the marketing mix , 4 P or 7P. In addition to the traditional role of marketing, it is for companies to follow closely, through strategic monitoring, the new products marketed and their reception by consumers.
The customer experience is at the center of this innovation marketing . It is necessary to help consumers to familiarize themselves with new products and, if necessary, to correct any bugs or defects encountered as quickly as possible to meet their expectations. This is essential for the digital fields, start-ups and more broadly new technologies.
Steps to Promote Innovation
One simple way you can find new ideas for your business is by asking employees. Here are some things to keep in mind if you want to be able to stimulate conversation in your office:
- Make sure you have processes and events to capture ideas. For example, you could set up suggestion boxes in the workplace or hold regular workshops or days away from the company to brainstorm ideas.
- Create a supportive atmosphere where people feel free to express their ideas without running the risk of being criticized or ridiculed.
- Encourage risk-taking and experimentation , don’t penalize people who try new ideas and fail.
- Promote openness between people and teams. Good ideas and knowledge located in one part of your business should be shared with others. Teamwork, newsletters, and intranets are all things that can help your people share information and encourage innovation.
- Emphasize that people at all levels of the company share responsibility for innovation, so everyone feels involved in moving the company forward. The fewer levels of management or decision-making there are in your organization, the more people will feel that their ideas matter.
- Reward innovation and celebrate success. Appropriate incentives can play an important role in encouraging staff to think creatively.
- Look for imagination and creativity when recruiting new employees. Remember that creative thinkers aren’t always the ones with the most impressive list of qualifications.
As you can you see, innovation plays a vital role in the success of your business. If you can afford to hire someone to head up this one task on a regular basis, even better. If not, you as the business owner must be the one who is always pushing to stay ahead.