Building Innovation As A Business Process
Building the ability to innovate is a critical area that companies are working on. Big or small, every organisation needs to innovate to thrive and be ahead of the curve. Innovation is not a one-time plan, but it is a continuous process that must be imbibed as part of the organizational culture.
While there is scope for innovation in every department, the CIO or the chief innovation officer shoulders the responsibility to identify the right areas—within or outside organizations– where innovation would drive business value. That paves the road for a change or transformation. And there is a difference. While change is doing something different, transformation is drastic change that would translate into a new business model or process.
So, innovation is a process that would lead to either change or transformation. With enhanced technological abilities, the scope of innovation is expanded. For example, Amazon didn’t invent books, but it only changed the way people bought them. In the same way, Apple didn’t invent touch-screen phones, but it invented a new way to make people love it.
Gartner says companies that successfully manage innovation as an evolving competency can increase revenue, improve operational effectiveness, and pursue new business models or business structures.
In today’s competitive business environment, companies must ensure continuous innovation to avert the threat of losing ground. They need to differentiate between innovation process and process innovation. It is easier said than done. Essentially, innovation is aimed at building greater transparency and agility in the process. There are innovations that have happened in spur of a moment, but if it has to be developed as a part of organizational culture, there is a need to ensure innovation excellence and that is possible only with an able team.
“Just remember that innovation is still a people process – don’t depend on tools alone to save you,” says Tim Kastelle, Student and teacher of innovation, University of Queensland Business School.
Those people can be in the organization or any stranger in the form of a customer. But it is about one idea. It doesn’t really matter where it comes from.
Starbuck’s initiative to become a wine bar in the evening was an idea from a customer, not someone within the organisation, says Tim Sheedy, Sr Advisor, Serving CIO Professionals, Forrester Research.
Gartner recommends a disciplined approach to develop innovation program that also emphasizes the need to measure and improve.
The next question would be how do we measure success of innovation?
“Innovations need to be assessed on their feasibility and acceptability. Measure the success of an innovation using its business impact,” says Tim.
For every successful idea, there are hundred others that would have failed to see the light. Hence, innovation is a means to success, not the end point in itself.
Google shutting down Orkut is one example that shows how the social media platform failed to take on the innovative intiaitves of its counterparts Facebook and LinkedIn.
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