INNOVATE OR DIE!

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Many companies accept that innovation is important to their business and agree with the notion around the saying “innovate or die!”. This underscores the importance of innovating around products, services and processes. In the real sense of it, without thinking differently from conventional ways, this world will be a boring place for all.

In the business world, you often hear people challenge you by saying” think outside the box”, meaning that you should not confine yourself to conventional ideas or situations around you. In my own view, why should there be a box in the first place? You can remove the box and think as widely as you possibly can!

What is innovation? According to the business dictionary, “The process of translating an idea or invention into a good or service that creates value or for which customers will pay.  To be called an innovation, an idea must be replicable at an economical cost and must satisfy a specific need. Innovation involves deliberate application of information, imagination and initiative in deriving greater or different values from resources, and includes all processes by which new ideas are generated and converted into useful products. In business, innovation often results when ideas are applied by the company in order to further satisfy the needs and expectations of the customers”.

Last week I read the Fast Company’s listing of top 50 most innovative companies in the world. Sitting right on top was Amazon – a brand that has revolutionised the way we shop. Amazon was launched as an online book selling site, many years later they have expanded into practically anything you can think of; thus, creating a unique and enviable positioning for themselves. Their secret is to build long loyalty over short-term profits and to drive expansion into new areas. As a loyal adorer and customer of the brand, I have had unique experiences with Amazon and it is not surprising to see them rank so high. It is noteworthy to say that 9 out of the top 10 are technological companies, clearly emphasizing that we are in the age of technological and digital solutions.

Innovation is the bedrock of sustainable business success as it gives organizations a competitive edge in the market place. With increased competition in the market place, a sure way of delivering value to customers is to innovate.  It must be known that not every idea will turn out to be a commercial success, however it is important for any company that is serious about innovation to fill its pipeline with a healthy dose of ideas that can be taken through a business case and be checked for viability. It is important for companies to ensure that their ideas are passed through a commercialization process which entails discipline and rigour of analysis to ensure the sustainability of the idea once it is launched.

Consumers fall in love with innovative companies and can see through a “me too” company. Me toos are those that seem to copy everything done by their competitors; once a brand launches a campaign or a product, they simply follow suit. It is important to stand out from the crowd and be seen to be original. Any company that does not prioritize innovation stands the risk of extinction and being displaced by more innovative companies.

Winning a spot as one of the most innovative companies in the world is not a flash in the pan and must have taken guts, grit, creativity coupled with uncommon ideas to earn the slot; and it definitely didn’t come by doing things the same way, being conservative and lacking in originality.

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