Innovation. When executed effectively, it gives companies a competitive advantage, but what does it mean when the very people responsible for overseeing innovation are skeptical about the extent to which their global innovation approach will meet current and future market needs?
This was one of several mysteries unearthed in UL’s 2019 Innovation research study. Over 90% of all survey respondents were involved and familiar with the innovation practices at their organizations, meaning most had direct insight into their organizations’ approach to innovation. Over two-thirds of the respondents (78%) reported confidence in their innovation processes and collaboration sources.
However, their answers to a subsequent question paint a different picture. Less than 50% of the executives surveyed expressed confidence in their global innovation approach, revealing an uncertainty at odds with their optimism in the very foundations created to foster innovation.
How is it possible to believe strongly in one’s overall approach to innovation but not expect that approach to be successful? Holding conflicting beliefs is not a new phenomenon, fortunately, and there are ways to break free from the innovation paradox.
The innovation disconnect
Companies understand that they need to innovate to remain competitive but in an unpredictable market with rising consumer expectations, how do they know what’s the right process or product to bridge the gap between doing and winning?
Fortunately, we live in a world where we have limitless access to information. While the demands of innovation challenge many organizations, they are crystal clear as to who is driving the innovation journey—customer expectations (77%) were listed as the primary motivator behind an organization’s interest in change.
The good news is that most organizations already have access to the tools and technologies they need to innovate successfully—they are the same ones that are already in use to transform the way we do business.
Artificial intelligence, machine learning and predictive analytics bring increased confidence to innovation, integrating new insights with what we know now into an action plan for the future. While many organizations may view changing customer demographics as the biggest challenge for innovation (66%), in reality, it is technological advancements that are driving customer expectations, not the other way around.
What does this mean for your organization?
To shape customer expectations and get ahead of your competition, you have to use the tools available to introduce new and better ways to solve a problem. Many of the tools categorized as new technology have been around for years and, when you think about it, are now part of the mainstream. Innovation occurs when you introduce new ideas, devices or methods into the marketplace using the tools already in existence; it’s not reinventing the wheel, merely perfecting it for improved results.
Here are a few examples to help build confidence and get your organization back on track:
Mobile devices have become our lifeline, allowing us to manage life’s musts from the convenience of wherever we happen to be in the moment. We pay bills, schedule medical appointments, learn new languages, navigate through unfamiliar areas with the help of our mobile devices. One question to consider is how your organization can provide a better mobile experience for your customers. If you’re the manufacturer of a mobile device, maybe it’s testing your product to determine if it seamlessly transitions between multiple wavelength bands. For service providers, can customers easily navigate your site from a mobile device? E-commerce businesses may want to review their digital onboarding experience; the list of possibilities goes on and on.
The Internet of Things (IoT) offers the possibility of a more dynamic world with even more information available 24/7, but how will you use it to help your customers? Some experts are already looking at the flipside of an ever-connected world. Innovation for you may be building safeguards that exceed current best practices to protect customer privacy, secure data and so forth. By thinking through all the possibilities of a connected world,including building responsive design into product experiences and minimizing IoT security risks, you could get ahead of your competitors.
Predictive analytics are already being used to pinpoint differences between health and disease, activate crisis management plans and minimize product returns. Innovation leveraging artificial intelligence can look like drop shipping new water filters to customers before the product in use reaches its end-of-life, rightsizing resources to adjust for demand fluctuations or delivering improvements in customer service. Innovative companies are even using predictive analytics to anticipate volatility in supply chains to mitigate risk before it escalates.
Moving from confidence in your innovation approach to feeling confident in the outcome is possible when you use the tools and technologies you already have to shape market expectations. By thinking through all the possibilities technology brings, the future is yours to become a market leader.