Use Innovation to Grow Your Business

Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England), May 1, 2007 | Go to article overview

Use Innovation to Grow Your Business


The successful exploitation of new ideas is crucial to a business being able to improve its processes, bring new and improved products and services to market, improve its efficiency and, most importantly, improve its profitability.

Marketplaces - whether local, regional, national or global - are becoming highly competitive, reflecting the ability of companies to access new technologies and further heightened by the power of trading and obtaining knowledge through the Internet.

This guide explains how you can adopt innovation as a key business process and outlines the different approaches you can take. It also gives you advice on

planning for innovation and creating a business environment that nurtures

innovative ideas.

Innovation

* It is important to differentiate between invention and innovation.

* Invention is a new idea. Innovation is the commercial application and successful exploitation of the idea.

* Fundamentally, innovation means introducing something new into your business.

This may take the form of:

* Improving or replacing business processes to yield higher efficiency and productivity, or to enable the business to extend the range or quality of existing products and/or services

* Developing new and improved products and services - often to meet rapidly changing customer or consumer demands or needs

* Adding value to existing products, services or markets to differentiate the business from its competitors and increase the perceived value to the customers and markets

Innovation can be a major breakthrough - totally new products or services.

But it can also be a small, incremental change. Whatever form it takes, innovation is a creative process. The ideas may come from inside the business, from the employees and managers, from in-house.

Ideas may come from research and development - or from suppliers, customers, researching the market, links with universities and other sources of new technologies. Success comes from filtering those ideas, identifying those that the business will focus on, and applying resources to exploit them.

Introducing innovation can help you to:

* Improve productivity

* Reduce costs

* Be more competitive

* Build the value of your brand

* Establish new partnerships and relationships

* Increase turnover and improve profitability

Businesses that fail to innovate run the risk of:

* Losing market share to competitors

* Falling productivity and efficiency

* Losing key staff

* Experiencing steadily reducing margins and profit

Innovation in your business can mean introducing new or improved products, services or processes:

* Analyse the marketplace; there's no point considering innovation in a vacuum. To move your business forward, study your marketplace and understand how innovation can add value to your customers.

* Identify opportunities for innovation; you can identify opportunities for innovation by adapting your product or service to the way your marketplace is changing. …

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