Certain trends are already being gauged for business innovation this year. Some of the most innovative companies such as Facebook or Buzz-Feed are those that have shown a constant willingness to learn. IT giants – Amazon, Facebook and Google- as usual are at or near the top of non-stop progress. In spite of that, tech giants do not have monopoly over speed as Taco Bell today can be considered a benchmark in the service industry. They also did well on the partnership front with the success of Doritos Locos Tacos. As much as governments and large corporations may try, video streaming cannot be stooped as evidenced by the successes of Spotify, YouTube and Netflix. The mobile phone is the next frontier for technology firms. Surprisingly, in some cases organizations past their peak are rediscovering their prime as has been the case with Hasbro. Markets are now ubiquitous but location hardly matters due to digitization. With the advent of crowd-sourcing, community impact cannot be downplayed. But this requires a certain degree of bravery to attempt. Lots of new opportunities are there and it is evident that fads will eventually mature. Also what is important is that if change is to be brought, missionary zeal is required from within the organization.


Studies have proven that a whopping four-fifths of companies’ sales can be accounted for by only 2% of customers. These two-percent-ers are those who are really crazy about the brand and will eventually bring more customers. There exist specific reasons for their stickiness. Companies go to great extent using loyalty cards or sales coupons in order to identify this lot, but the process is actually not so complicated. Big Data has enabled organizations to get hold of this two percent crowd with greater ease. Future innovations must be made keeping in mind this specific audience. The organization must never lose track of this loyal niche in the drive to chase greater numbers as lack of engagement may lead to boredom. And once boredom sets in branding switching is not so far-fetched.

The times when companies used to innovate to forge ahead are long gone. Now business innovation is a basic essential to survive. It is needed to avoid stagnations or to avoid gaps within the firm. With existing trends of cut-throat competition, others may arrive to take advantage of one’s innovation to eventually take away a slice of the market thus eroding profits. A number of firms make this mistake of not involving customers in the innovation process. Customer experience must form a vital part as evidenced by the lukewarm follow up this year towards Google Glass. It made a grand debut but customers feel some of the promises have not been followed. Apple Pay and Facebook Messenger’s pay button are promising a lot but are not unique as Google Wallet has been around for a while now. Customers’ problems can provide a window of opportunity for innovations.

Typically it has been understood that brainstorming is the ideal method to elicit business innovation. However, recent research into the same has uncovered the fact that such a session involving members from disparate groups may not be the best method as conventional wisdom would have us believe. Rather deep expertise into the topic of discussion is a must. This is not possible when there is too much of diversity. Most organizations are talking about how processes must be in place in order to generate innovation at workplace. For this thorough R & D is needed. However, most firms are ignoring the R and focusing purely on getting the final results for the D.

Business innovation is no longer an option for organizations to move up the ladder. It is now in fact a necessity simply to survive. It is the best way to ward of ruthless competition of the times. Also due to increased globalization, it has become quite easy for established firms to spread their wings, and thus the only way to survive is to develop something unique. Consumers are now increasingly more demanding than ever before. Technology has meant that on the one hand there are greater tools to exploit, but on the other, easier for competitors to take a leap. It has become imperative to use Big Data applications to get best understanding of market needs and conditions. Recruitment and people management challenges are much greater today due to evolving demographics and greater diversity in terms of ethnicity. That is where innovative companies which will figure out a way to best utilize this work pool, will be in a position to excel. Existing technologies also enable us to change the way work is conducted, as younger employees as well as consumers are using mobile phones to work, take decisions and execute final purchases.

German pharmaceutical giant Bayer has long been seen as a firm which embraces business innovation. However, ensuring a culture of sustainable innovation across such a large firm is in itself a challenge. Even CEOs struggle to implement such cultures in case inherently not existing. One of the ways to succeed at it is to involve outsiders. While developing helmets for astronauts NASA took advice from jumbo truckers as they experience similar G forces during their travails. Bayer has always taken business consulting advice from academicians. David Shrier is one of those academicians having earlier worked with the likes of Walt Disney, Ernst & Young, Starwood Hotels & Resorts and GE/NBC Universal. Another unusual industry to include within Bayer’s innovation panel is energy from where the CEO of Harvest Power joins them. That is one industry which, faced with climate change concerns has been innovating faster than most while at the same time, having to deal with several levels of government regulatory authorities.

Business research conducted by the Forbes magazine has identified some strategies organizations use to excel at business innovation. Organizations must be clear about the various types of innovations that are being attempted to develop. The most talented people at various firms must be encouraged to excel rather than be constrained or bullied. Incentives and measuring metrics must be re-aligned away from corporate strategy to individual level goals. Employees must be provided with complete support to make sure they get a tilt at implementing their ideas. Finally, within firms, there must be micro-spots or markets were innovations may be tested before being launched or rejected.

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