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Corporate innovation strategy needs a design-driven approach.

We often hear this common statement from corporates that “We need to innovate more, but how?”

I guess many of us have been experienced this, when the usual growth slows down after the saturation point hits the business, we need to innovate to stand out in the fast-growing competition.

But, how to analyze:

  • When is the right time to innovate?
  • When you should start planning your next innovation strategies?
  • What should be the desired outcome?
  • How to innovate?

In this article, we will cover all the aspects of corporate innovation and help you the best way forward when it comes to strategizing it.

It’s a well-known fact about corporates these days, every now and then one company is disrupting the way businesses are done with new offerings and better experiences derived by technology, which helps them emerging as the new leader in the domain. To keep up with the required pace, the corporates need to evolve quickly and consistently in order to sustain in the competition. The best example of this in recent times is OYO.

A well established 5 * hotel chain Hotel Leela had to shut down its operation and sell it’s assets to Brookfield Asset Management, what could be the reason for this to happen? Due to the lack of innovations? Where The Leela had a multi-million worth of properties spread across major cities in India. On the other hand, a small tech company lead by two youngsters with a dream and few bucks in their pocket are now the biggest hotel group in India and 2nd in China.

But how it happens? Where the Leela Hotel worth 2.3BN in 2016 cannot see the opportunity which OYO did and this lead to the fall of Leela and the rise of OYO?

It’s all about taking the right decision at the right time. Taking the above example in context every business process has a saturation point when they stop evolving with respect to their customer’s expectations who need better experience, better service and better value of their money. Now when we are always on the move and hotels have become the second home for most of the working professionals on a daily basis rather than a holiday spot for upscale families. The need for budget hotels could not scale much due to a couple of reasons, mainly due to lack of vision to the market potential and inconsistent and the poor quality of services in this category which are not being supervised properly. These challenges created the immense opportunity for the OYO to grow and capture the market with uniform service consistency and technology platforms for the users to book a hotel at their fingertips.

Similarly, every business demands continuous advancement in technology or services with respect to the target market expectations and demand. Supply at the right time and need is the key to innovation. But how and when is the right time to explore the need for innovation?

Sometimes you don’t have the wrong idea, just the wrong timing – Lady Norman on her Krupps scooter in 1916

In the above case, the innovation took place way before it needed and could not scale as the market wasn’t ready then. In the OYO scenario, the need was there which the industry leaders couldn’t recognize.

But the question is still there, when is the right time to innovate?

Let’s look at the evolution of these technologies: AI, ML, Blockchain or any other advanced technologies. When the AI came into hype there were multiple speculations like this technology will take over humanity and the human race is in danger but when you look at the current scenario every company is now either using this technology or trying to fit this into their product. The key is to give a better customer experience and with this context in the recent data shared by Gartner by 2020, 40% of the data analytics applications will be customer experience focused so we have to be future-ready to cater to the changing needs.

When you should start planning your next innovation strategies?

Let’s visualize this way: You have a decently profitable business up and running. You need to check the growth cycle of your growth in customer and profit

corporate innovation strategy

Now analyze your business’s current status and see where does it stand. If you hit the saturation point of constant P/L account it means it will soon going to hit the shakeout or maturity stage from where the profit will start falling down and sooner the business will die if the required measures are not being taken. So the best time to strategize your next innovation is when you are still in the growth phase and or better plan your next business offering in advance.

Design thinking does play a vital role here when it comes to analyzing the market’s need and creating the required opportunity.

There are a few aspects of User Experience elements we need to look at:

  • Create personas: Analyze, who will be your end user/customer
  • Create user stories: Analyze, what is the expectations of your customers from the application or the domain you are serving.
  • Plan Workflow: How and when you can deliver the solution with respect to the customer’s expectations.
  • Create Roadmap/Wireframe: In order to deliver the solution which meets the customer’s expectation you need to get it validated by the actual customers if the direction you took is leading you to the right destination?

In the case of wireframes review the hierarchy within the user stories and make decisions on what the user wants to see and where they want to see it. The roadmap will also help you to breakdown your bigger goal to smaller consumable goals which is easily achievable and during the process, the product/solution get refined with each validation done.

  • Design Mockups of the Product/Solution: How does your product/solution look in the flesh and skeleton? After the rigorous customer’s validation. You definitely need to test all the effort put into designing the solution/product so far before the big launch.

What should be the desired outcome?

The desired outcome is always a better business opportunity and better brand value by meeting the customer’s expectations throughout their journey. But the best outcome you should be targeting at outgrowing your competition with the design-driven approach in reinventing the wheel of innovation.

Now you can relax and celebrate for a bit till you realize the need for reinventing the wheel again for your next corporate innovation.

How to innovate?

Innovation is a subjective approach if it’s not clearly defined and the clarity in the approach only comes when we work from the design-driven approach. This approach will help you get an edge over your competition. When your competition is shooting in the dark with their next innovation you will have a thoroughly researched and designed solution ready with the acceptance of your customers. Just remember any innovation should make life easier for your customers and you. Before you jump into investing big in the new innovation always evaluate your ROI on it with respect to the value it will add after comes into effect. Design thinking will again come into the rescue in bridging the gap between user’s need and solution offered.

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