When the pandemic hit, many leaders responded to the unprecedented global uncertainty by cutting their investments. Dispensing company spend in research and development became the rule. While decreasing expenses is a viable response to a crisis, cutting innovation entirely can cripple your company’s success.
Want to Become an Innovation-First Company?
Technological innovation helps your business grow faster, perform better, and respond thoroughly to new problems (like a new competitor or a global pandemic). That’s why living in a “survival mindset” isn’t enough to save your business.
You must dispense with the fear of failure and believe you can be the disruptor during difficult times. Stay ahead of the curve and know that you will pivot, quickly, when necessary.
As a company leader, you have to make technological innovation a companywide objective.
Only by prioritizing transformation can you truly weather the storm and emerge stronger on the other side.
Which Industries Need Technological Innovation?
Any company can benefit from technological innovation, but some industries need it more than others. For instance, in the tech industry, innovation is required if companies want to be more than just IT departments. They either need to develop digital products or processes that help clients achieve their goals or create new, groundbreaking tech that disrupts the status quo.
The legal industry is also ripe for tech innovation. Cutting-edge firms are revolutionizing legal service delivery and improving the efficiency of traditional services. Digital transformation in the legal industry will support these two goals. The financial sector has also been largely conservative with transformation.
In the past, tech innovations found different ways to deliver the same services. Moving forward, technological innovations will need to put customers first.
Lastly, there’s the education sector. Digital transformation in the education sector has primarily focused on making education cheaper by eliminating full-time professors and replacing in-person experiences with online schooling.
However, the innovations that will shape this industry in the future will focus on student outcomes, prioritizing quality over quantity.
How Can You Implement Digital Transformation?
Before rolling out any tech innovation, you need to understand the problem, business benefits, efficiency gains, and success definition. Here’s how to make innovation a primary objective in your organization:
1. Define success upfront.
No matter what industry you’re in, digital innovation needs to help you overcome an existing challenge or address a new need in the market. Whatever form it takes, it should bring value to both the company and the customer. Keep in mind that value to the company doesn’t have to mean profit — although it certainly can.
Because innovation must start with a pain point or opportunity, you need to determine what success looks like before you start. Ask yourself questions like, “What would solving this challenge look like?” and “How will we know when we’ve reached a solution?”
2. Connect innovation initiatives to company goals.
Let’s say your company is great at making hamburgers. If you were to start a tech initiative to improve battery technology, then you won’t benefit from your efforts. That’s why you need to define and communicate the connection between your innovation initiative and your company’s goals.
Explain why innovation is important to individuals, teams, and departments. By doing this, you can ensure that the entire company understands the purpose of your initiative.
Make sure you communicate throughout the project to ensure people always know the current status of things.
3. Get buy-in from everyone.
Tech rollouts are more likely to fail if you don’t have early buy-in from stakeholders. No matter how much time and effort you spend on tech innovation, people won’t use it if they don’t think it’s applicable. That’s why securing buy-in at the right time is so critical to the success of your initiatives.
Aim to inform and involve stakeholders as close to the start of the project as possible. For instance, you could ask for input as you’re defining success.
When stakeholders have a say in initiatives, they’re more likely to feel comfortable with rollouts.
Over the course of the project, involve stakeholders at key points in the project. Most importantly, listen to what they have to say — especially the naysayers. They might save you from a costly mistake.
4. Validate success.
After any tech rollout is completed, you’ll need to measure success. Prove you hit the metrics you wanted, whether they’re related to efficiency, employee happiness, customer satisfaction, or something else entirely.
The metrics you rely on to determine success depend entirely on the initiative, but there are some valuable KPIs you might want to track. Customer lifetime value will tell you how valuable customers are throughout their relationship with you, and hours saved can help you quantify automation efforts.
Digital innovation isn’t the result of a happy accident — it’s the final product of a company’s concerted effort and experimentation.
Thinking and executing on the innovation-first principle — and making that principle the foundation of your companywide priority is vital to success.
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