How do you measure success? From a business standpoint, success is typically measured in numbers—and bigger is usually better. Big Data is a component that has had a massive impact on business success. From this, new trends such as fast analytics and data science have even emerged.
1. Train to Innovate
Innovation is crucial to the lifeblood of a company’s unique selling proposition. And many companies already invest heavily in R&D and innovation. But how are they investing? Do the actors involved really know how to innovate? According to a recent paper by authors Michaelis and Markham, no.1
Published in Research-Technology Management, their results indicated that even though senior managers viewed innovation success as more focused on human capital than previously, innovation training rarely happens. Nearly 80% of the companies reported “rarely engaging in structured training to build innovation competencies.” So, although efforts to improve processes and integrate new development methods have led to system efficiencies, a large skill gap remains.
2. Map and Diversify Innovation
In relation, diversifying innovation can support a company’s success, as authors Alabbas and Abdel-Razek emphasized2 in the Journal of Innovation Management. To ensure a business is diversifying its “innovation portfolio,” the authors show how mapping can be used to organize efforts, determine current innovation focus, and explore holes where development could lead to future success.
Ten innovation areas were plotted. These included four single dimensions:
- Product innovation, i.e., what is introduced to the market or to customers
- Process innovation, or how the company produces or delivers the product
- Position innovation, or the market positioning for a product
- Paradigm innovation, meaning the company’s frame of product reference, or mental model for the company’s work.
Six innovation combinations also were plotted: product-process, product-position, product-paradigm, process-position, process-paradigm and position-paradigm.
3. Know Your Identity
Finally, as Keller and Richey explain in the upcoming book Advances in Corporate Branding,3 as markets continue to mature and competition grows fiercer, companies will not succeed on products or services alone.
This could mean embracing sustainability or other initiatives to pre-empt consumer pressure; mapping your innovation strategies against like-minded competitors—with whom you want to compete; or investing in the people who can make major innovation breakthroughs. Whatever gap or gaps you choose to address, build it into your identity because according to these authors, “The success of a 21st century business will be defined as much by who it is as what it does.”
1. T Michaelis and SK Markham, Innovation training, Research-technology Mgmt 60(2) (2017)
2. S Ali Alabbas and RH Abdel-Razek, Mapping and benchmarking technological innovation of three international petrochemical companies, J Innovation Mgmt (4(3) (2016)
3. KL Keller and K Richey, The importance of corporate brand personality traits to a successful 21st century business, in JMT Balmer et al, eds, Advances in Corporate Branding, Palgrave Macmillan, London (to be released 2017)