Anas Aljuraifani - Corporate Communications and Strategic Partnerships Director
Innovation should be at the heart of every business philosophy, but there are many who misunderstand it, are ill-equipped to inspire it, or are unable to execute it. If we think of innovation as a branch of customer service, it is primarily the anticipation of demand and the evolution of a market. Regardless of how successful a company may be, never forget that no one is indispensible and it is essential to realise that a good business is not a dictator to its clients, it is an ally and their relationship can only advance with open communication and honest appraisal. As Bill Gates, Co-founder of Microsoft Corporation, once said: “We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”
This open dialogue is vital to foster innovation and broaden a customer base. Our clients will not tell us how to do something better, but they will tell us what they need to be better; In essence, we must apply better solutions to new requirements – and ultimately win the race to provide those solutions.
So, how do we put our theories into practice? Basically, there are three forms of innovation; incremental, where we improve the process of an existing product; radical where we create an entirely new process; and anticipation, where we predict rather than react to client demands.
To help appraise these three methods, research and development teams can be instrumental in identifying opportunities and an organisation without constant re-evaluation of its goods, services and processes will always be a follower rather a leader. A tried, tested and trusted product is a valuable asset but in any competitive market, loyalty can often fall foul of ingenuity. We should never underestimate the power of innovation and must treat our customers with the respect they deserve through enhanced services, superior technology and more creative, cost-effective products.
Analysing business indicators such as market sectors, buying power and key trends can be pivotal in innovating new products and forging new directions, helping us to ensure we are moving in the interests of our customers and not changing for the sake of change. The old saying: “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” is sound advice but we should always bear in mind that things don’t have to broken to improve.
There are few greater business accolades than being quoted as a ‘pioneer of industry’ and it is no coincidence that the Merriam-Webster Dictionary lists ‘innovator’ as a direct definition of ‘pioneer’. The two words are synonymous with leaders who are bold, intuitive, visionary and – perhaps most importantly – successful.
At this higher level of innovation, we are looking more at business model innovation, where we see the company as a whole rather than the products and services it provides. On this more holistic scale, we must reconsider who the target customers are, the benefit to those customers and our partners, how the company is created and delivered, and ultimately how the company earns money?
Typically, this situation tends to be the result of a business which is not performing as well as it should and needs to reassess its options. While this is obviously not a position any of us would wish, it can make the difference between sinking or swimming. A successful business model innovation could be a saving grace in disguise.
Fostering a culture of innovation within a business at any level should be one of the mainstays of success, where businesses can enjoy sustained growth and brighter prospects through the art of market anticipation and the appliance of industrial science.