Innovation is a common buzzword used in business. The meaning often gets lost as there is no numerical value to it – yet true innovation can be the stand-out factor that allows a company to thrive in difficult times. Creativity, critical thinking and strategic planning are just some of the elements that make up innovation. When you boil it down, innovation is essentially something that adds value, whether that’s to your business as a whole or even just one new feature for your technology that allows you to stand out from competitors.
Theoretically, innovating ‘The Next Big Thing’ should be very easy indeed. Businesses have access to market data, user data, and corporate data. They can model, predict, and plan. What they don’t always do is start with a system and principles that will guide a project or process over the long term. They don’t stay consistent with one set of goals. And they neglect the ‘squishy’ component: The motivations and goals of the humans in the equation. According to Harvard Business School research, there are over 30,000 new products introduced every year, and 95% fail. But why?
1. Not all data is built equally
Tapping into the power of data and analytics is something all companies now know they need to do, especially when it comes to tech innovation. Data can help you gain a clearer picture of your market, what is out there, how people use your product, etc. There is so much data out there that can help with any query you have, which is also the issue. Many tech companies have a challenge filtering out the noise and getting to the core data that can really help drive true insights and lead to innovation. Research shows that only 39% of executives believe their organisations manage data as an asset, and even fewer (24%) view their companies as being data-driven.
Data-driven innovation isn’t simple. It involves removing data silos and unlocking valuable insights that feed the creative process. One of the easiest ways this can be achieved is by merging your data points, providing you with a holistic view of the numbers. For example, the best customer relationship management products offer their customers a wide array of information, such as the contact or process stage data of leads, prospects, customers, clients, colleagues, investors and candidates, allowing them to track progress and identify inefficiencies that can then create actionable insights, or even allow automation to move a workflow along. A recent study showed that outperforming and successful organisations are better at data access, data insight, and translating that insight into real, value-creating action. Outperforming companies have 108% more access to data, draw 108% more insights from data and translate 84% more insights into action.
2. Overlooking the long-term plan
Most business executives are constantly under enormous pressure to deliver quick results. In general, businesses set KPIs and targets they need to achieve by the end of the quarter. This short-term goal culture results in companies directing most of their funding to high-functioning departments such as sales and marketing and unfortunately, innovation take a backseat.
Without long-term planning, innovation and creativity are almost impossible. Effective long-term strategic thinking allows companies to link their overall vision with their product and technology goals. Companies that only focus on affecting their bottom line or meeting monthly targets will only ever be driven by these short-term goals. Innovative enterprises ensure that they foster a culture that focuses on long-term business strategy, develop metrics that can be measured over a longer period, successfully communicate this long-term ideology to their employees, and reward this type of thinking.
3. Neglecting the human element
The best business tech has been designed with humans in mind. Innovation never stops. Even if a product team has created an award-winning piece of technology, it is vital that they continue to test and evolve the product with a customer-centric mindset. New tech innovation fails because companies are attempting to solve a problem that doesn’t exist or have not understood what their customers really want – or how they behave and think. Customer-centric companies were 60% more profitable than others.
However, the human element central to innovation includes the customer and also the team carrying out the innovation. Innovation is rarely a one-person job, so to be successful requires strong organisational leadership. The ability to harness a group of people to create an environment where originality and creativity come before finances and economic goals is crucial.
An innovative company isn’t born overnight or in a one-off boardroom meeting. Innovation is a continuous mindset that needs to be nurtured and embedded into the core of the business. Organisations that ensure they utilise data effectively, create a long-term strategic plan and put humans first in any innovative idea they have, are far more likely to succeed in the future.