Innovation is synonymous with successful business, and organisations that are unable to innovate successfully often fail. Companies built with agile, flexible infrastructure designed around rapid innovation have successfully pivoted and developed new business and operating models at pace amid the pandemic, while many legacy businesses often caught in silo structures have been slow to move, bound by red tape.
In this new world, the need for efficiency and adaptability increases the demand for successful innovation, which in some cases will require complete re-evaluation and reinvention of established organisations.
Prior to coronavirus, enterprise firms across all sectors were already facing challenges. New digital channels, as well as globalisation, have changed the process of innovation by creating a level playing field for companies, regardless of scale or age. New markets, complete with nimble challengers, have forced legacy companies to reconsider processes and operations, no matter how entrenched those may be.
For innovative startups, consumer apathy to big brands and the availability of digital communications has created a perfect storm. That said, there are many lessons that incumbents can learn from startups, such as taking advantage of new digital channels and placing the customer at the centre of decision making.
Working with more than 500 science and technology companies across the UK, we have a clear picture of innovation. To understand where that sits within your business, the first step is to understand the kind of innovation you want to see – whether whether that be incremental innovation or something totally transformative – and the approach for successful innovation is totally different for each route. We understand that innovation is nuanced and our role is to support and nurture innovation for the companies in our network.
Innovation is difficult for incumbent businesses because it comes with considerable uncertainty. While this risk is real, failing to innovate is perhaps an even greater risk.
This is why businesses must change their approaches towards innovation. Instead of paying lip service, competitive companies are striving to make changes that truly make an impact.
Thankfully, emerging technologies are able to negate the risks that come with structural and cultural reinvention. Machine learning and artificial intelligence are delving into data and discovering insights that are vital when building relevant strategies. Further, 3D printing, advanced robotics and materials science have transformed the way products are made and services delivered. Mass connectivity has turned everyday objects into information powerhouses.
Adopting these innovative tools, however, is only part of the process. Prior to pursuing a corporate innovation strategy, companies need to build a complementary infrastructure and culture. This largely rests on a willingness to commit resources, build clarity and inspire support across the whole organisation. Before they can do that, they need to know what corporate innovation really means.
In its latest special report, Bruntwood SciTech worked with business consultancy iDisrupted to explore the importance of corporate innovation and the avenues that can be taken to implement effective innovative strategies. Find out more here.
- Phil Kemp is chief executive of Bruntwood SciTech