Innovation is the Game Changer for Businesses in these Times

How do you compete in the 21st century when competition from lower cost centers in manufacturing and services threaten to take away work from you? What do you do when newer products and newer offerings from both existing and new entrants threaten your bottom line? Finally, what do you do when business trends keep changing by the month leading to a rapid turnover in ideas, fads, and products? The answer to all these questions is that your firm ought to innovate to stay in contention. Before launching into a discussion on how firms innovate, let us consider the definition of innovation: it is defined as fresh thinking that creates something valuable for consumers.

In other words, any out of the box idea that helps in launching a new product or service that meets unmet needs of the consumers as well as provide solutions to existing problems and more importantly, create value in the process, can be called an innovative product or solution.

Firms like the global giant, 3M have perfected the art of innovation by investing in knowledge management processes and software. Firms like GE, Microsoft, and Apple have traditionally been among the top innovators in their respective fields. Of particular importance is Apple which under the guidance of its late legendary founder, Steve Jobs, revolutionized the way consumers use technology and media by pioneering several innovations related to personal computing and mobile devices. Around the world, energy companies like Suzlon and Shell have likewise introduced innovation to their processes thereby creating value to their consumers. Indeed, the way in which these energy giants branched out into alternative energy sources, renewable sources like solar and wind speaks volumes about their vision and mission, which is to provide the citizens of the world energy but in a manner that is sustainable and efficient.

Innovation is spurred by need, greed, and speed as a recent book on the topic puts it. The point here is that there is a need to stay competitive by the businesses in these turbulent times and hence innovation is the only way out. Further, the imperative to make money and turn in profits has meant that greed plays a prominent role in innovation. Finally, because of the shrinking times to market, businesses have to be quick and agile and innovate.

Apart from this, there is the concept of “Jugaad Innovation” which has traditionally been practiced in India. This concept essentially means that the outcome of any process or service would be achieved by a number of means, some of which are not traditional in the sense that management experts and textbooks do not write about them. However, this concept is catching on in many countries that are borrowing from the successes of Indian firms in innovating in all areas right from the wedding ceremonies to business processes.


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