Best Strategies for Innovation Leaders

Innovation is one of the cornerstones of successful businesses. Many companies now have innovation labs and employ specialists to ensure they’re moving in a creative and innovative direction.

Despite its importance, it’s not enough to have the goal of being innovative or even to set up a whole division dedicated to this ideal. It’s essential to identify the key principles and practices that are at the core of true innovation.

Market Research: Essential But Insufficient

Innovation begins with effective product planning. There are several stages of introducing a successful product to the marketplace. It’s vital to choose a product or service that’s in-demand. You can start by studying statistics, such as the demographics of your target audience. However, if you want to introduce something groundbreaking you need to do more personalized research.

Actually talking to people, either through interviews or surveys, helps you identify the pulse of your market. Find out not only who’s buying existing products in this market, but why. Ask people what they like and don’t like about existing products, this helps you identify gaps that you can fill.

Staying Ahead of the Curve

Many companies run into the problem of basing their actions on what worked in the past. In an age when technological and cultural trends develop and change faster than ever, you need to keep pace with trends and be looking towards the future. Before the digital age companies could afford to be a little lax in this area, but that isn’t the case in today’s marketplace.

Now, the present becomes the future almost instantly. This means you have to stay a step ahead of your competition and your own customers. You want to be able to anticipate what they’ll want next month, even if they don’t know it yet. That’s why traditional market research (while still valuable and essential) is no longer enough.

Many companies, including Google, Xerox, Oracle and IBM now have innovation labs to help them develop creative products and strategies. This is an approach that can be helpful for smaller companies as well. The first step in fostering innovation is to set a clear intention in this direction.

Leverage Emerging Technologies and Platforms

It’s also important to find out if new production and delivery methods are on the horizon in your industry. You want to ensure that you don’t invest in something that will soon be obsolete. Innovation is important both as an aggressive and defensive strategy. You don’t want to fall victim to a competitor’s innovative tactics.

Chatbots are a good example of an emerging technology that’s gotten very popular recently. This is part of the fintech revolution. This is also a unique case of innovative tech where the demand for it comes from business owners. They want to improve efficiency, even though some customers (in theory) may prefer to talk to live people.

Financial institutions can deliver superior services by saving time and resources with chatbots. One benefit is that automated chatting applications are available 24/7. At the same time, companies must research such solutions carefully to make sure they’re investing in the right systems and ones that actually deliver what they promise.

Be Alert for Potential Pitfalls

The most brilliant ideas can be derailed by mundane problems. For example, if you’re creating an app or software application, you must be extremely diligent about security and privacy concerns. If you’re introducing a certain kind of service, is it likely to encounter legal or bureaucratic roadblocks? A good example of the latter are the legal hurdles Airbnb is facing in many cities.

Watch Global Trends

To some extent, all business owners should be futurists. Watch trends that affect society, not just locally, but all over the world. For example, McKinsey Global Institute identifies overriding trends that are likely to impact the world in the near future, such as increased urbanization and an aging world population. Such trends are especially crucial to consider if you’re planning to build a business that continues to grow in the years to come.

Any business that wants to become a leader in its industry must constantly innovate. A good starting point is to make sure that everyone on your team shares your commitment to innovation. This is something that must be applied to all aspects of business activity, from product development to marketing campaigns.