The Oxford Dictionary defines innovation as ‘introducing something new’. In professional product development, innovation is achieved through a structured process where raw ideas are carefully and systematically developed into a tangible product.
To be successful, your business must innovate. How many thriving businesses do you see that are still doing what they did 20 years ago? Not many we bet! That’s because the world is unpredictable and changes quickly, so businesses must keep up to meet these new demands and challenges; They must innovate or die!
Take a look at any market sector and you will see innovation. Telecoms, music and film, consumer shopping, takeaway food, banking, and cars – to name just a few. Look at how the landscape for these sectors has changed in the last 20 years and you’ll see that the rate of change is continually accelerating.
Markets are no longer stable, consumers are fickle, and your competitors are targeting your share of the market right now. You need to innovate your products and services now or spend the same amount of time, money and effort playing catch up after your competitors do it first.
The definition of Innovation is the multi-stage process whereby organisations transform ideas into new/improved products, services or processes, to advance, compete and differentiate themselves successfully in their marketplace.
Innovation is distinguishable from creativity by its emphasis on the implementation of creative ideas in an economic setting. In other words, innovation is the coming together of creativity, market need and business viability.
Innovation is about looking at your products and services and asking how they can be changed to better meet the needs of your customers whilst giving you a competitive edge. Innovation is not copying what a competitor is doing – that’s just playing catch-up. Instead, invention creates new ideas, but innovation turns those ideas into tangible, marketable products that give your company competitive advantage.
There are different types of innovation. Here’s a few of the key types below to help you understand the different ways in which you can innovate:
This type of innovation is where a start-up or small company identifies a niche consumer base whose needs are not being fulfilled by the current suppliers as they are considered low profit customers. A product or service is created that meets their needs. The product offering is then expanded upon to match the needs of the high profit customers.
This is where a new market/consumer is created where one didn’t previously exist. This is not through a technological breakthrough but by creating a new kind of product or service using existing technologies. An example of this would be the home inkjet printer. Commercial printers were available for 20 years but did not serve home users. Hewlett-Packard created the first Deskjet printer targeted for home use and created a new consumer/market.
Incremental is about making continual improvements to your products to keep ahead of the competition. A great example company that does this is Gillette. They have continually added extra blades and features to their razor products, raising their perceived desirability and value.
This is where a technological breakthrough creates a new market or transforms an existing one. The obvious example here would be the introduction of the iPhone by Apple.
This type of innovation is about keeping pace with technological improvements and evolving feature requirements to continually improve product performance. Typically, this happens in highly demanding consumer markets. Imagine if Apple released their first iPhone and then decided not to create a version 2! They would have been pushed out of the market very quickly.
This is where a company sees another application for an existing technology which often creates a new market, so somewhat disruptive too. It is about reconfiguring products with specific technology to create new products. A great example of this would be taking a smartphone and creating a smart watch.
As you can see, there are a lot of different kinds of innovation, and we haven’t even discussed innovating the structure of how your company does business. Perhaps your business is losing market share with your current product offerings or maybe you have an idea for a new product but can’t see how to go about developing it innovatively; there is help out there.
If you are a start-up or existing company with products and services, you must innovate to stay competitive. Talking to a product design consultancy is a great way to find out how you can innovate more within your company so why not get in touch and let’s see if we can help you to be more innovative.