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The definition of Innovation refers to the process of introducing novelties or modifying existing elements to improve them or develop completely new ones.
Undoubtedly, the most promising part of the innovation process is turning an idea into a successful concept. Throughout history, we have witnessed the most incredible ideas that have changed or revolutionized our lives. We have also seen others fail.
But what does it depend on for Innovation to work? A lot has to do with the moment of development: if you don't have a good organization and structure, no matter how good an idea may be, it simply won't come to light. So that the next innovations (or the current ones) that you plan for your business do not remain just wishes, we share everything you need to know about the business innovation process and how to apply it successfully.
An innovation process is a method that helps to organize the uncertainties of a new project into steps and decision points, which drive its development efficiently and avoid possible risks that it could suffer.
Among the most important aspects when creating an innovation process in companies are:
The business innovation process should always aim at change. That is the improvement or adaptation of a process or project to grant new and better advantages in its use.
These improvements can favor different aspects, for example: saving time, simplifying a process, reducing costs, and having less impact on the environment, among others.
Innovation should not just seek to improve something for no reason. It must respond to the current needs of an industry or market. The objective is to solve various problems or situations so that life in general or certain areas, for example, of a company, can carry out their activities more easily and increase their productivity levels.
As we mentioned, the innovation process seeks to make changes within a process or project to improve its functions and activities and thus achieve easier and more intuitive use. This entails eliminating certain steps to carry out a task or having the opportunity to do it more quickly.
The innovation process meets the current needs of a market; this allows you to stay updated and adapted to the changes that are presented as time goes by. These changes can range from economic to social, environmental and technological.
The entire innovation process (with its phases, characteristics and keys) makes it possible to take a step forward to continue advancing on the path of competitiveness. In addition, many innovations revolutionize not only the business world but society and its environment by granting new formats, processes or actions in favor of progress.
Four phases of the innovation process:
This first refers to the compilation of all the potentials of Innovation, for example:
This phase can derive from several situations: some unsatisfied need of a client, a potential new market or a new technical solution.
Two types of searches can be used to track innovation potentials:
The most important objective to achieve in this phase is to obtain ideas that are relevant and useful, both for the company and for its possible audience. For this reason, the benefits and possibilities of the idea in question must be thoroughly evaluated to specify expectations.
In this phase, the analysis and derivation of ideas and concepts are carried out in order to find possible solutions and forms of implementation and commercialization. Here different aspects must be considered to achieve a comprehensive evaluation of the postulated idea, for example:
For this phase, it is recommended to conduct interviews or focus groups with clients to find out their true feelings. In this way, their observations can be taken into account to have a more objective vision of the idea. The Canvas business model is a very useful tool for this phase since it allows a simpler and more organized conceptualization to evaluate points such as market segments, value propositions, distribution channels, customer relationships, sources of income, resources, partners and key activities and cost structure. Once each point has been established and analyzed, you can move on to the next phase of creating the innovation project.
This is the time to carry out the necessary development and testing of the finished product. Prototypes that have yet to be previously tested can go on the market since it must be guaranteed that, in every way, it will be safe for the market to which it is directed.
Once all the tests have been passed, the project may be released for marketing and promotion.
The promotion will be given to the product once the tests to which it was submitted have been passed. The ways of attracting customers must be developed, as well as the objective and how the Innovation solves the needs of a specific market.
In this last phase, it is vital to determine the communication and promotion channels and the marketing strategies that will be implemented to market it to its ideal audience.
The requirements to develop an innovation process may vary from one company to another. Even so, there are some basic factors that, when implemented in each case, have proven to be quite useful.
The keys to implementing an innovation process are the following:
This first step is fundamental and determines how innovation problems can be solved, considering the strategies carried out or not throughout the company's existence.
One of the questions you can start problem identification with is: has anyone in this company ever tried to innovate?
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The affirmative or negative answer will give way to other questions. In case anyone tried it, what happened to that idea? Did it work? Did the company support it? Why didn't it work?
If not, you may wonder why no one has had the motivation or initiative to do it. The problem lies in needing activities and policies encouraging this participation. Once this is resolved, it is time to take advantage of the collaborators' ideas. Brainstorming is an excellent tool to use. Remember that the innovation process must consider profitable ideas that benefit the company. Therefore, once you have a profitable idea, ask yourself how it will solve the problem. Once the idea is established, it defines its limits, for example, budgets, time, and approval.
When you analyze the trends, needs of your customers and your commercial competencies, the same innovation process will show you how you should design your future offers to create new markets.
One of the great functions and characteristics of the innovation process is the generation of new ideas for your products, services and business model. You can apply business creativity techniques that spark inspiration.
Companies should always encourage teamwork, especially when creating an innovation plan. Therefore, if you want this process to be successful, do not hesitate to bring together the people with the most entrepreneurial thinking.
Prototyping speeds up the development of an idea or project and minimizes errors. In addition, consumer-oriented market tests contribute to a faster optimization of the innovation process.
The more motivated the members of your company are to share their ideas and make them come true, the more productive the innovation processes will be.
One of the biggest challenges that companies face is how to innovate in the face of all the activities that are part of everyday life. Employees are often involved with the routine, and the innovation proposal is left in the background. In fact, it is not easy to implement a culture of Innovation if the focus on productivity is no longer part of the company.
After all, a company can only drive Innovation and new business opportunities, as well as develop new services and products or even new business models, if the team is productive and extremely collaborative. A company that has performance problems will hardly be able to drive and consolidate these changes.
In this sense, technology contributes to the productivity of teams and, consequently, to Innovation and business opportunities. Therefore, companies seeking to innovate first must dedicate themselves to their teams. One of the ways to become increasingly competitive and more relevant in the market is collaboration.
When discussing productivity as a means to promote innovation and business opportunities, it is common to focus only on people. Companies are always conducting training and capacity building to ensure that teams are more productive. But it is important to highlight the relevance of the other two pillars of this tripod.
As we said, companies tend to invest more in this pillar, placing people as the main ones responsible for the level of productivity. However, the teams' performance is linked to the other two pillars. For innovation initiatives, more is needed to invest in employee training and hopes that, by increasing productivity, they will be prepared to create innovative actions.
Investing in process optimization is another fundamental pillar for Innovation in companies. With well-designed and established processes, it is possible to gain productivity and Innovation. Many companies underestimate process mapping, performing workflows at random without considering that there may be more efficient ways to execute them. Therefore, the company must analyze how the processes are being carried out and apply improvements if it wants to establish a culture of Innovation.
The third pillar to achieve Innovation and business opportunities could not be any other than technology. Through it, it is possible to automate repetitive processes, gain agility, facilitate remote work, favor collaborative action, reduce costs and many other advantages that benefit productivity. By joining technology with processes and people, the company can guarantee better results when it comes to Innovation. An environment conducive to productivity is also an environment in which Innovation finds ways to develop.
One of the main paths followed by companies that take advantage of productivity as a means to new business opportunities is teamwork. The company must start to have the vision that ideas can come from anywhere, seeing collaboration as a starting point for innovative solutions.
Therefore, it is essential to create programs in which all employees, regardless of their positions, are encouraged to collaborate and not compete. From the intern to the CEO of the company, all ideas must be considered and encouraged until there is an in-depth analysis for possible prioritization. The goal is to seek diverse thoughts and very varied skills to identify good opportunities for new businesses.
One way to contribute to this collaboration format is through cloud tools. When everything the company's employee’s need is available at all times, even if they are away from the work environment, this encourages participation. In addition, these tools facilitate cooperation in corporate tasks, integrating members of different teams in projects.
To drive Innovation in your company, it is essential to know which technologies to invest in and the ideal time to do so. In fact, with the accelerated advancement of the market and the constant emergence of innovative tools that promise countless benefits, it can be difficult to know where and how to start. In this sense, understanding your company's digital maturity level is essential.
From a diagnosis of the tools and systems used, it becomes possible to identify points of improvement that can be optimized with the appropriate technologies. An example is file storage. Suppose your company still stores it on local servers or even physically, with folders and printed files (as with many health institutions). In that case, the first step to innovate is to replace this model with storing information in the cloud.
It may seem like a simple change, given the major trends in the market. But only with a consolidated technological base, with increasingly digitized processes and in the cloud, will your company be able to enjoy the benefits of other emerging technologies.
One way to encourage new ideas to emerge in the work environment is by using different approaches to debating problems, for example. Several techniques, such as improvisation and the gamification methodology, contribute to encouraging employees to speak without feeling embarrassed or cornered.
A change is created in the work environment that makes it conducive to the exchange of ideas and also to the creation of unusual solutions for common situations. Different initiatives to think about new possibilities encourage employees to express thoughts they always wanted to say before they felt there was no space or that would be discarded without any analysis. Therefore, it is also important to avoid saying "no" at first to create an open environment for dialogue.
Design thinking is a technique widely used by companies that value corporate Innovation and the creation of new ideas for projects. The technique involves a process that includes four main steps:
This method is an excellent way to encourage creativity and stimulate synergy in work done by many hands.
Take your time with planning.
In the innovation process, many ideas arise, but because they are not well structured and organized, they are lost. Therefore, it is essential to work with planning to put the ideas into practice. This planning must contain the definition of the project stages, the deadlines for execution, the resources that will be needed, and the people involved, in addition to other important points for the ideas to come out of paper.
It is also part of co-creation in Innovation to seek out who has know-how in the area. This can be extremely beneficial for the company, which will have a third party's insight. A specialized consultancy can bring techniques and new tools, helping search for ideas for creating a larger innovation program.
A consultancy is very efficient in proposing a set of innovative practices to be applied in the day-to-day of the company, bringing benefits in the short, medium and long term. In addition, people outside the company often can see ideas and business opportunities that are different from those pointed out by those inside the company, dealing with the same issues daily.
Defining the ideal model for generating revenue in a business can take time and effort. Most of the time, even the sources of revenue change a lot during the company's life. The most complicated ones are e-commerce, apps and audience-based businesses. Among the most common are a marketplace, software as a service, subscription, pay-per-use and licensing. Check out the details of each below:
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