Why a Sustainable Innovation Culture Matters in the Digital Era
In the digital era, innovative companies are met with two choices: to innovate or to stagnate. Today’s market is far from just learning to adapt to new technologies. Enterprises need to stay ahead of the competition rather than merely survive—unless they want to face the consequence of getting left behind.
Well-established enterprises suffer the most damage when it comes to digital disruption. Their new competition is far too distinct from their traditional competition. Some examples are AirBnB and TripAdvisor which both forever changed the rules of travel bookings and tourism activities, while retail tech giants like Amazon and Alibaba introduced the general public to the convenience of e-commerce.
To move forward successfully in the industry, incumbent corporations must focus on emerging enterprises’ cultures: to create and adjust to entirely new business models. For one, Google has mastered the art of the innovative business culture. The corporate giant went beyond its search engine prowess, and has now extended its expertise to the advertising industry. Amazon is also keeping up to its own innovative pace with Amazon Prime, going head-to-head with Netflix, another video streaming frontrunner.
Cautionary Tales of Un-sustainable Innovation
While innovation is necessary for corporate growth, it still proves to be a difficult endeavor. There are unfortunate instances where enterprises may fall short or miss their chances to innovate. Find out where two former corporate giants went wrong in sustaining a culture of innovation.
Kodak is a reflection of entrepreneur George Eastman’s mission of creativity and innovation. This company’s mission centers on creating and pursuing risky endeavors such as color film. But for some reason, Kodak missed on the opportunity of a lifetime: the shift to digital cameras. According to Accion, the corporation’s leadership team didn’t welcome the idea of consumers viewing photos on a screen versus developing these photos on paper. As the public knows, it all went downhill from there: Kodak filed for bankruptcy in 2012, despite its efforts to reverse its fate by spending billions in new technological advancements.
The Blockbuster corporation would have been a mainstay in the video streaming service, if not for a few oversights. Back in 2000, the media enterprise had the opportunity to purchase the industry giant Netflix for $50 million, yet they didn’t push through with the venture. Netflix turned out to be one of their biggest competitors, and Blockbuster reiterated by making corporate decisions for innovative media services. However, these decisions came off too late since Netflix was already years ahead of their competition. And in 2010, Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy and was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange.
Looking at the situations closely, any corporate giant can end up this way no matter how they think that they never would. So, corporations should either create innovations in a snap or decide on how to successfully commercialize existing innovations.
Maintaining an Innovative Culture
Enterprise leaders are aware that a culture of innovation is the core competency in today’s market. The challenge lies in sustaining the said culture and going beyond their findings and interpretations on innovation-related metrics. Here are three practical actions to ensure enterprises sustain and make something out of their innovative cultures.
Understand and establish the enterprise’s digital class.
There are three distinct classes of digital organizations: the leader, the expert, and the follower. As stated by consultancy firm Protiviti, the digital leader is a master of digital disruption and are true changemakers that easily create and disrupt their own strategies and plans. The digital expert, on the other note, specializes in adopting emerging technologies and has high levels of process and strategy automation. Finally, the digital follower is good at developing digital strategies and distributing initiatives.
Corporations must decide and establish which digital organization class they belong to. Some enterprises may declare themselves as a digital follower, but may lack clear and formalized digital strategies, dynamic digital initiatives, and an open-minded workforce. Upon deciding and establishing their digital class, corporate leaders must instill accountability for creativity and innovation through the organization’s clear vision, mission, and core focus areas. The entire organization must receive discretion to review their innovations through those given parameters.
Cultivate innovative experiments that address digital velocity.
Great ideas don’t just come from people who are branded as creative people. As global consultancy company Kearney pointed out, a good innovative idea can come from anyone or anywhere in the organization. True digital innovators knew that with ample training and empowerment, shared corporate values, and a people-centered approach, a corporation can be a force to reckon with in the market.
To start, enterprises must foster internal and external innovation cultures. Networks are good venues to facilitate the development of life-changing ideas and solutions to present societal challenges. In addition to these networks, innovation tools must also be provided to the organization. Available trainings, fundings, templates, and platforms help in experimentation and ideation. But one of the most important resource should not be left out: the value of time. Great ideas are borne out of patient timing and freedom to develop these ideas.
Emphasize importance on customer engagement.
Making an innovative product or service is not the end goal of innovation. Innovations should be something that is useful to humankind. Quick customer engagement is the best way to pilot test if an innovation truly addresses any purpose to potential or targeted users.
When it comes to customer response, enterprises must have the mindset to fail fast and learn from the failure. Instead of molding an innovation to perfection, digital innovators quickly put their innovations to trial. After all, true leaders of innovation are aware that customer feedback is as unpredictable as technological advancements. For example, some innovators from the past would have thought that watching on small screens didn’t make sense. But today’s technology proved otherwise, and people mostly watch from their mobile devices now. It is better to acquire input from users immediately, and use that feedback to make modifications or improvements to an innovation that customers would actually want to use.
Technology is not the key to a corporation’s success. It is the company’s ability to transform itself according to the unpredictable pacing of technological advancements. Adapting an innovative business culture is one way to address the dynamic digital disruption, but corporations should also find ways to sustain this kind of culture to stay ahead of their traditional and upcoming competitors in the future.