Innovation is a common topic of debate and strategies in most businesses (be they new or well established). In the current economic climate and with the huge potential of the likes of social media data, brands are increasingly looking at innovation (large and small) as a way to beat the competition. But innovation is often misunderstood. After a recent event debating the topic, I left with some insights into what the attendees thought that innovation was, and some misconceptions about what it has to be (but doesn’t).
Innovation is all about:
1. Innovation and growth are linked, according to the BBC’s Evan Davis. He stated that innovation hasn’t come to a standstill in 2012, although we do have a growth problem which innovation itself will be able to solve.
2. Delicacy: It’s important to nurture it gently so as not to kill it off too quickly, but also carefully contain and manage it to prevent any huge financial, market, or reputational fires.
3. More prevalent during recessions: The atmosphere of fear engendered by recession is often the trigger required to force organisations to adapt and survive, as well as being ideal for start-ups. Recessions generally tend to stir up innovation.
4. Often within your team already: Any business is likely to have great ideas and innovators already within the team. An open and creative organisational culture and office space is crucial to finding, developing, and encouraging these employees, who will always move to another company (possibly a competitor) to innovate if they can’t do so where they are.
Four things that innovation shouldn’t be
1. Big or complex: Sometimes the best innovation can come through a series of methodical steps which ultimately amounts to something quite large, impactful and radical. Such gradual change can often be more palatable in businesses.
2.Hugely expensive or driven forward by companies: Clearly, innovation doesn’t have to be just that. Hundreds of user-based movements have pioneered innovation(remember Makers’ Movement)?
3. A risky business. At least not to the innovators : who have complete faith in their idea. It’s the financial backers who are taking the risks. However, if we’re taking an incremental approach, perhaps that can help reduce the overall risk by breaking innovation up into more manageable and less intimidating or costly chunks.
4. About technology: Thinking and process innovations show it’s not just about technology (e.g. queuing), and service innovations prove it’s not only about products either. Nevertheless, technology is certainly vital, and there’s no doubt that innovation is being shaped by greater mobility (e.g. increase in mobile devices), social media and networks, the cloud, and huge data sets (including social data).
Indian Tech Companies That Innovate:
Here is the unofficial list of 5 Indian tech companies that believe in innovating in the right way.
1. Flipkart: Flipkart can arguably be called the leader of the e-commerce in India, thanks to a slew of innovative measures it has been rolling out ever since its founding. It also dabbled with the digital music service space, but failed at it and finally Flyte was shut down.
2. SnapDeal: SnapDeal calls itself the leader of India’s online marketplace has always been enthusiastic on the innovation front. Last week eBay invested in SnapDeal. The online shopping company also gobbled up Indian designer and handcrafts marketplace, Shopo.in.
3. Freshdesk: Freshdesk has been one of India’s start-up success stories. The company deals with enriching customer support experiences through various communication mediums. They recently revealed a report highlighting the state of the consumer as well.
4. InMobi: InMobi is the market innovator with a strong standing when it comes to video advertising on digital platforms. They recently announced that the number of users they serve has gone up to 691 million.
Ultimately, innovation seems to depend on persistence, belief, adaptability, and relevance to customers and the market. While its success relies on people, behaviour and skills, and spotting and pursuing the opportunity before it’s too late. Undoubtedly money and resources help, but perhaps I could conclude by saying that more of a barrier exists in the minds of employees and cultures of organisations?
Image Courtesy | shuttershock