• October 25, 2016

When Is the Last Time You Inspired Innovation?

How to break your love/hate relationship with innovation and turn it into inspired innovation.

Do you think of your company as innovative? And more importantly, do your customers?

Innovation is one element in making sure your customers are happy and engaged with your company, so it’s no surprise that many executives place a priority on innovation. In fact, as many as 75 percent of CEOs consider innovation as at least equally important as operational effectiveness.

So why don’t we see more transformative innovations happening in the marketplace? And how can your enterprise be the one successfully completing them?

What Is Innovation?

Although it’s a common buzzword, innovation can mean different things in different organizations.

At a start-up, innovation is likely the main selling point. A small team has found a problem and a new way to solve it. As the company grows, it has a vested interest in making new products and improving those it already offers. However, innovation in larger companies also focuses on enterprise transformation and making processes more efficient.

Still, regardless of size, most executives are less interested in incremental improvements on existing products than they are in “silver-bullet” innovations that will generate significant value. Easier said than done.

What Blocks Innovation?

Typically, size factors and silos can play a role in preventing an organization from being innovative. A competitive rather than collaborative culture also hampers innovation.

One of the biggest factors, though, is often separation from the customer. A startup is usually formed around a specific problem the founders have experienced, so it’s tightly focused on solving that problem. As organizations grow and founders become removed from that day-to-day experience with the problems their company is solving, it can be challenging to create new solutions. So leaders have to up their game on inspiring innovation.

How Can Data Help?

Data can play a crucial role here.

It can help you build robust customer profiles. Your company can use these profiles to test new ideas through scenarios and research. For example, when coming up with a new idea, staff can ask themselves, “Will this make life better for our target customer?” Or when searching for new ideas, they can ask, “What is the biggest problem facing our target customer? How can I help solve it?”

When new ideas are in development, your company can pull together focus groups of people matching the target profile to test features or services to make sure you’re on the right track.

It can help you see how your customer profiles are changing. Perhaps, when your company started, the target was single renters working in mid-level jobs. As those customers have grown and changed, perhaps their demographics have changed. And perhaps new customers coming in fit a different profile. Data will help you see how you need to change to fit the changes in your customer base.

It can help you make the experience of buying your products or services a delight, whether customers interact in a physical location or online. Use in-store and website analytics to gauge where people spend the most time and where you lose them to ensure that they love buying from you.

Like this story? Learn more about preparing for innovation and harnessing value from your data.