Due to the immense economic impact facing companies during this pandemic, many have reacted to the pressures by cutting budgets, canceling projects, or worse – closing their doors either temporarily or permanently. Businesses are in survival mode, just trying to operate through the storm. Innovation is a must, now more than ever.
Innovation Leaders and Laggers
A crisis will always reveal the gap between the business leaders and the laggards. The leaders are agile; they solve problems, pivot quickly, and look for new opportunities even in the worst of times. Innovation is embedded in their processes. As a result, they are best positioned to act.
The laggers are slow to respond. They wait for conditions to improve instead of adapting to the difficult realities. They become vulnerable and get left behind.
Just like humans and products, businesses follow a lifecycle, too. One hundred million new businesses launch each year worldwide, and the average lifespan of a company today is less than 20 years (down from over 60 years in the 1950s). Survival is a game of beating the odds, of innovating to avoid becoming a statistic.
Innovation requires risk, patience, and evolution. Does your brand have the fortitude and will to invest in projects that may not strengthen your position until two years from now (or longer)? Here are four areas to consider:
4 Areas of Opportunity to Innovate
Technology and functionalities
Embracing new technology into a business is the most common form of innovation. It can include the introduction of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Blockchain, Angular and React, or Computer Vision, for example.
Technology innovation is not restricted to just new automation or machinery, either. It can include the launch of new features or functions for existing products.
In the retail industry, features such as Single Sign-On (SSO), streamlined checkout, pickup in-store, price comparison tools, and review systems are all innovations. They can improve and enhance the success of businesses as much as a significant technology launch.
User Experience and Design
Innovation most certainly includes advances in product user experience (UX) and design. Apple Inc. does this best with its iPhone launch every year. Every new edition often improves from its predecessor in responsive and functional design, interface upgrades, information architecture, or speed enhancements to reduce clicks to a page.
Innovation can involve new approaches to offering standard products, too. Consumable retail sales have evolved into subscription services for shavers, cosmetics, diapers, personal care, medication, contact lenses, and children’s toys.
The financial industry has renovated its models, such as offering fractional shares – a portion of a share. More consumers can play in the stock market and buy varieties of stocks.
The ‘’sharing economy’’ revolutionized the accommodation industry with AirBnB and the transportation industry with Uber.
Direct to consumer models such as Etsy, freemiums (free trial before buying), drop shipping, and crowdsourcing are business model enhancements that created significant and lasting change.
Process improvements are also an essential aspect of digital transformation. Generally, companies get from A to B with better speed and quality using their human resources and technology.
Undoubtedly, as employee’s skill-sets improve and technologies change, processes need to be modified. Journey maps, service design, and incorporating customer feedback into process refinements are useful tools to identify gaps and improve the steps involved in any business process.
Examples of process improvements include: supply chain and inventory management savings, reducing call center wait times, or introducing Taylorism to analyze workflows to improve labor efficiency.
Leading the way through a crisis with innovation & digital transformation.
Even the best-intentioned leaders will fail to keep up with their market’s changing demands without it. Innovation isn’t just introducing a powerful new technology, either. New functions, user experience, and design, business models, and processes can transform a business and enable it to thrive and survive over the long term.
We help organizations understand their greatest innovation opportunities and bring those concepts to life. Want to learn more?