What is innovation?
Innovating means doing something new or in a different way. In a business context, innovating can cover a number of aspects, among them designing a flexible business model to streamline processes, reduce costs, attract new clients and expand into new markets.
When all is said and done we’re talking about generating new ideas, adopting new technologies and optimising the development of new products or services that will serve to satisfy needs.
According to the Survey on Innovation in Spanish Companies carried out by the Spanish Statistical Office (INE)
, 44.8% of firms stated that their main aim on investing in innovation is to improve the quality of their products and services, whereas 38.5% said their objective was to expand their range of products and services. This goes to show innovation is a must in order to be successful.
Corporate innovation involves keeping up with technological developments and changes in the market, making sure the change in business culture reaches every area and process. But how is this achieved? The main steps we should take include the following:1. Observing and analysing
Good ideas don’t just come up out of the blue, like a flash of inspiration. They’re the result of a process of observation, analysis, connections and mental associations.
According to the author Rowan Gibson
, “you can’t come up with great, revolutionary ideas without first gaining the right insights”. Prior knowledge is the raw material we use to give shape to great ideas. 2. Consulting clients and collaborators
An innovative idea stems from detecting a need. The best way of finding out first-hand what those needs are is to ask your clients. Those of your staff who deal directly with clients can also contribute very valuable information. 3. What’s the competition doing?
It is important to keep a close watch on what your competitors are doing to find out what’s working for them, what they’re missing and the market niches they have yet to cover. This for the purpose of identifying new business opportunities and areas that need strengthening.4. Brainstorming
Innovative companies resort to brainstorming as a key exercise that includes and fosters the participation of all those involved – using a multidisciplinary approach-- to enhance product development, problem solving and the design of new processes.
Getting everyone to take part in this process is a key factor here, since the solutions you’re looking for can come from different areas of your company, ranging from collaborators who are in constant contact with clients to executives and the marketing department.5. Analysing a current product so as to change or combine it
What aspect of our product as it stands works best? What characteristic is no longer relevant? What other elements can be added to it to create something different? One example of this is the incorporation of a digital camera into mobile phones, which created a new need on the basis of a product that was already on the market.6. Trying out new markets
The speedy evolution of technology is creating new markets every day, and we can tap into them by introducing new features into our current products or services. Along the same lines, giving a new twist to tried-and-tested ideas can be an excellent way of generating new ideas that will prove to be a success.
Lastly, it’s important to point out that innovation should form part of your company’s DNA: in your employees’ attitude, the work environment, and even the way your firm handles failure and success.