For millions of years, humans across the globe have been evolving and innovating as they grow. From the very first hammer in the stone age to the artificial intelligence of the 21st century, innovations remained a constant when everything else changed. Countries, governments and people have spent months and years researching and developing new technologies and ideas that make human lives easier and more convenient.
Though it may seem like with the advent of technology, the market for innovations has reached its saturation point, there is always scope for something new and better to come up. All one needs is a little push and proper strategy to plan out their development. As companies battle between research and patents, one needs to focus on the crux of innovation, which includes the 4 P’s: paradigm, process, position and product.
In a previous article, we discussed several types of innovations. We often feel innovations are scientific and disruptive. However, that is not the case every time. Types of innovations include the following
- Radical Innovation
- Architectural Innovation
- Incremental Innovation
- Disruptive Innovation
- Business Model Innovation
- Product Innovation
Innovations help your brand or company stand out from the rest, they make you unique and different, giving you an edge in the market as consumers shift to your product. Initial investments in research and development, though risky, can prove to be extremely beneficial and give you huge returns, even post the patent period.
Though breaking the market can seem like a herculean task for many start-ups, the very essence of the start-up culture is to innovate and ideate such that it makes consumer experience better with time. Innovations also improve efficiency, overall productivity and profitability.
Innovations help your brand or company stand out from the rest, they make you unique and different, giving you an edge in the market as consumers shift to your product.
The 4 P’s of Innovation
Product innovations involve changes in the product or services the start-up or organisation has to offer. Product innovation can involve a change in the design of an existing product or changing the entire product or service. It is important because it helps create new spaces in a seemingly saturated market. As a company, you must identify these gaps and find new spaces to target your audience to satisfy them with a refreshing approach.
Product innovation doesn’t always involve the creation of a completely new product that tackles a completely new issue. For example, the first computer that was launched was established for a non-existent market targeting the audience who earlier did not have access to such technology.
Post the first computer, the generations of computers we have been seeing and using are only additional changes and improvements in technologies and designs. For instance, computers were made a more lightweight and more time-efficient post which laptops were introduced to make it more convenient. Thus, innovation may happen when you improve an existing product or you add a new feature to an existing product. When phones got their cameras, they gained a new feature that was an innovative move. And when the camera quality improves, that’s also an innovative move.
Innovation is not limited to products, it also includes services, processes, or business models. Though they may seem less obvious, they are also important. Recent OTT platforms like Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hotstar etc are prime examples of such innovations. In fact, Airbnb, Uber and Ola also fall into this category of innovation. Focus on listening to the grievances of your customers, understand them, and use their knowledge to anticipate where the market is heading. This will help you ideate and innovate better.
There has been a shift in the innovation environment due to factors like liberalisation and deregulation of competition, the globalization of markets, increasing demand from customers and growth in technology. This led to a change in the process of production within organizations.
Process innovation refers to innovations helping companies in aligning their processes in a customer-oriented manner to ensure their business is successful in the long term. Processes consist of the following four elements: process deliverables, process flow, process management, and technologies.
The production process is redesigned based on market and tech-related changes in the market. The advantages of a process-oriented organization are that companies can adapt more quickly to changes in the business environment. For instance, the major change in the current post-pandemic status quo is companies going digital with their process. Digitalization had already started in the past few years but the pandemic rushed through it. Most companies are going online with sales and customer services. The change in the process might be difficult but has high returns once initiated. The main focus is to meet future customer needs through leading market technologies.
The production process is redesigned based on market and tech-related changes in the market. The advantages of a process-oriented organization are that companies can adapt more quickly to changes in the business environment.
Businesses are always shifting paradigms especially when they find other sectors more profit bearing. Paradigm Innovation refers to the shift in the underlying mental model via a change in the business status quo. A prime example in the case of paradigm innovation is the advent of the iPhone and smartphone growth. Before these came up the way consumers absorbed the information in a very different way, be it newspaper commercials, TV advertisements, websites, magazines, etc. As smartphone technology grew, most people switched to consuming data via their phones.
Brands faced a shift in the paradigm of digital consumption as they shifted businesses in order to cater to the newly developed market. It is also referred to as crossing the chasm when it comes to the technology adoption lifecycle.
Often businesses start out targeting a particular audience but later switch to another audience or expand to a wider audience. For instance, Complan started with their target audience as children from the age group 3 to 16 and then rebranded to Complan Woman, targeting a completely different customer base of women from the age group 18-45. Positioning Innovation is mainly about repositioning. It involves taking a product or service and offering it in a new market, or with a new direction. Another such example is of AirBNB who initially started out related to conferences and later moved to the general holiday and traveller industry.
Position based innovations also relate to change in how a specific process or product is perceived or used. For instance, pants were developed for people as clothing material and now it is seen as a fashion statement depending on the style and material.
Innovations often help establish a strong foothold in the market and lay the foundation for future business success. However, as an entrepreneur, you must be careful about your innovation strategies including the time and process involved in the research and development aspect. Keep in mind these 4 Ps of innovation, product, process, paradigm and position; when you lay down the innovation strategy for your business. Make smart choices and decisions which will help your business grow in the long run.