Whilst traditionally many organisations have been able to survive with little innovation – by providing products of a high quality and updating them to levels that maintain market competitiveness when required – this is increasingly proving unfeasible throughout most markets even though the traditional concept is still applicable to certain products with long lifecycles and little opportunity for innovation.
It’s long been proven that business innovation is the only way growth can be sustained over the long run – for individual businesses and on a larger scale – so it’s no wonder that businesses view innovation as one of several key areas to focus their attentions upon. Many are of the mind that innovation is inextricably intertwined with technology but that isn’t the case, for whilst technological advances are typically innovative – and more often than not incredibly so – there’s much more to innovation, and not only business innovation, than technological advances alone.
Innovation isn’t limited to technological advances because it also extends to a comprehensive understanding of user and market needs and desires, the means of addressing these needs and desires, and doing so in a cost-effective manner that enhances profit margins. Innovation therefore offers an abundance of benefits to businesses, including:
By comprehensively understanding the needs and desires of their intended market, businesses can work towards addressing these needs and desires in such a way that other businesses are unable to compete as effectively.
Innovation has long proved the key requirement of businesses to enter new markets faster and penetrate deeper, with the result that less needs to be spent on research and marketing, therefore enabling them to further capitalise on the inroads they’ve made by proffering more competitively priced products and services.
Innovative advances in production can assist businesses in reducing their production costs which increases profit margins and therefore results in healthier profits for the business. This also involves maintaining efficient operating systems which will be improved on over time.
Innovations can also help to make a business’s supply chain more efficient, flexible and responsive which results in a greater range of customer-centric products and services, decreased time to markets, reduced costs and accelerated business growth.
Whilst these are some of the benefits associated with innovation, and they give us a better idea of why it’s important for your business to be innovative, you’re probably still no closer to understanding what innovation is than before.
As mentioned above, many people confuse innovation with technology or believe that they’re somehow inseparable. This isn’t the case however, because innovation isn’t a single activity, nor is it a single event – it’s a process, one that in terms of business can be seen as creativity that leads to the generation of fresh new ideas and the ongoing development of products and services, as well as ongoing development of their commercial application and their appeal to particular markets.
So how can businesses foster innovation with an eye to performing better in, if not outright dominating, their particular market? Businesses can work towards fostering innovation in a number of ways, starting by working with product design consultancy firms like PDD Design Semiotics and comprehensively understanding the nature of innovation. Creativity is considered to be the most important aspect of fostering business innovation for without it there’s nothing to initiate the process, though this shouldn’t be confused with invention, for although related in many regards, invention is the process of creating something new or finding a new way to do something.
Whatever market sector your business operates in, you’ll find it advantageous to understand and discover ways to foster innovation in your business practices.
Lenny Wilkerson is a writer for PDDDesignSemiotics, a design consultancy firm working with multiple sectors and design studious all around London and Hong Kong.