The importance of business innovation, and how to know when you need it

There are a variety of reasons that modern businesses grow and succeed in today’s corporate climate. Some do well because of their extensive services. Others become known for the quality of their products. Still, others enjoy strong brand loyalty due to world-class customer service. However, the aspect that sets apart the best of the best from the middle-rungs of achievement is innovation.

Far and away, the most common factor among the top-tier businesses in the world is their ability to embrace innovation. Think about companies like Apple and Microsoft. They’re aged behemoths today, but they remain at the top of the competition due mainly to their ability to develop new and exciting services and products that disrupt their traditional space. Other examples of companies that display incredible innovation are Amazon and Uber.

With that said, grasping the essence of innovation isn’t always easy. In the article below, we’ll define business innovation and its importance in a way that’s clear and simple to understand.

Innovation graphic overlaying photo

The role of innovation in business

Let’s start off by defining business innovation properly. You see, almost no one shares a standard definition. Ask several different people for one, and you’ll likely receive a myriad of answers. Of course, none of them will agree with the other. However, for the sake of simplicity, let’s use Merriam-Webster’s definition, which states that innovation is “the introduction of something new.”

If it’s about the introduction of something new, what is its role in business? Well, typically, business innovation is equated with research and development (R&D). The fundamental concept is that new inventions are based on basic research. Those inventions are then patented and further developed into commercial applications.

Much of the way innovation has traditionally occurred has changed since the advent of the Internet. Yes, indeed, the World Wide Web has substantially altered the game. The knowledge that used to be hard to come by (and expensive to obtain) is now available instantly with the mere press of a button.

Because knowledge has exploded exponentially, innovation is no longer a result of commercializing basic research. Today, it’s more about applying a company’s resources, technologies, and existing knowledge to overcome business challenges. You could liken it to creating a new puzzle piece out of the resources you have available and crafting it to fit in the overall puzzle seamlessly.

Getting started with innovation

The truth is that whether a company innovates the old-fashioned way or does so using modern means and methods, the risk of failure continually looms. Therefore, many companies choose to stay the course and essentially maintain the status quo. By doing so, they’re treading water while the sharks are circling. They’ll eventually get eaten. It’s just a matter of when.

Thus, in the end, these companies actually risk more by not innovating. Consider the example of ride-hailing services, which have disrupted the traditional taxi industry. The companies that have remained in the past, running their businesses the way they’ve always been run, will end up bankrupt because they’ve refused to join the mobile revolution.

Use innovation to differentiate yourself

Once you’ve started to innovate, you can use it to set yourself apart in the market. You’re essentially doing something altogether different from any other company in your space (or you should be). You want there to be nothing else like your service or product anywhere on the market. You want to be disruptive and unique.

Alternatively, maybe you are innovative when it comes to the way you do things and not necessarily on the products or services you deliver. In that case, you want to be working on newer, better things that will help you save money, save time, or both.

Trying something new and refusing to be afraid of the risk is the name of the game. No one ever accomplished anything great by playing it safe. That doesn’t mean taking wild, outlandish risks and being foolish. It does mean being unafraid to risk failure. Fear will hold you back while others boldly take what should have been yours. Remember that.

Blonde woman touches a smart screen

Get experience with innovation

Before deciding to become a great innovator yourself, perhaps it would be wise to work with companies that are current innovators now. One way to go about doing that is to work on challenging projects, which can provide you with real-world, hands-on experiences.

There is good news, of course. Not only can your entire business begin innovating, but you can be a driver of innovation within it. Do the market research. Gain intelligence. Then start using the resources at your disposal to solve customer problems in newer ways, better ways, than any business in your industry has ever done before.

Editors' Recommendations