The successful exploitation of new ideas is crucial to a business being able to improve its processes, bring new and improved products and services to market, increase its efficiency and, most importantly, improve its profitability.
This guide explains how you can make innovation a key business process and outlines the different approaches you can take. It gives you advice on planning for innovation and creating the right business environment to develop your ideas.
A strategic vision of how you want your business to develop – if you dedicate your time to monitoring trends in your business sector, you can then focus your innovative efforts on the most important areas.
Improving or replacing business processes to increase efficiency and productivity, or to enable the business to extend the range or quality of existing products and/or services
Watch the competition
Adding value to existing products, services or markets to differentiate the business from its competitors and increase the perceived value to the customers and markets
If you simply ask your customers how you could improve your product or service they will give you plenty of ideas for incremental innovations. Typically they will ask for new features or that you make your product cheaper, faster, easier to use, available in different styles and colours etc. Listen to these requests carefully and choose the ones that will really pay back.
Adapt a product to a new use
Find an entirely different application for an existing product. De Beers produced industrial diamonds but found a new use for diamonds when they introduced the concept of engagement rings. It opened up a large new market for them.
Go back in time
Look back at methods and services that were used in your sector years ago but have now fallen out of use. Can you bring one back in a new updated form? It has been said that Speed Dating is really a relaunch of a Victorian dance format where ladies had cards marked with appointments.
Use social networks.
Follow trends and ask questions on groups like Twitter or Facebook. Ask what people want to see in future products or what the big new idea will be. Many early adopters are active on social network groups and will happily respond with suggestions.
Run a contest
Ask members of the public to suggest great new product ideas. Offer a prize. Give people a clear focused goal and they will surprise you with novel ideas. Good for innovation and PR.
Work with another company who can take you to places you can’t go. Choose a partner with a similar philosophy but different skills. That is what Mercedes did with Swatch when they came up with the Smart car.
Minimize or maximize
Take something that is standard in the industry and minimise or maximise it. Ryanair minimized price and customer service. Starbucks maximised price and customer experience. It is better to be different than to be better.