As we strive to move out of the pandemic and get the economy moving again, increasing focus is being placed on the need for businesses to innovate in order to thrive.
However, a recent article by Charlie Widdows, describing the five main blockers to innovation, sums up the problem businesses actually have in understanding what innovation really is and where it fits into their organisation.
1 Fear of failure
2 Conflicting goals in the organisation
3 Lack of innovation skills
4 No clear definition of innovation
5 Disagreement over who owns innovation
Like the term Marketing, which took years before it became a recognised ‘function’ and activity within a business, Innovation is struggling to find its identity – often being labelled as another word for the more riskier forms of R&D – as opposed to what it actually is, which is perhaps best described as follows.
“R&D is about turning money into knowledge. Innovation is about turning knowledge into money”
In other words, you can argue that innovation is synonymous with the purpose of most businesses, which is in turn synonymous with the definition of Marketing – identifying and satisfying customers’ needs at a profit.
Almost certainly, too much ‘innovation’ is driven by a desire to solve a technical challenge or innovation for innovation’s sake, rather than by a true understanding of customers current and future needs, and an awareness of the competition and what they are doing. Every now and then a game changer is created, disrupting a market almost by accident – but these are very few.
The way forward
Taking a lead from most VCs, who work on a percentages basis (accepting a certain failure rate compensated by the occasional big win), businesses should consider developing an innovation strategy that adopts a similar balanced risk approach, and is market led.
This strategy would require companies to
- Up their game as regards market intelligence and forecasting
- Recognise that innovation can cover any aspect of the business where a competitive edge can be achieved and maintained
- Recognise their strengths and weaknesses
- Prioritise innovation ‘projects’ based on potential return and risk – the ability to scale rather than just grow steadily
- Embrace partnership and collaboration/co-opetition opportunities
- Develop clear quantifiable and time-bound milestones to measure performance against
- Treat this process as an integral part of their business strategy
- Be creative in seeking funding for the projects
Great technology without a great commercialisation strategy generally leads to disappointment.
At Infintec we understand this and use our commercial, technical and financial expertise to help ambitious tech businesses uncover their potential, get the funding they need to make innovation happen, and scale their businesses.
If you feel your technology deserves better – talk to us on 0118 4032994