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, increase its efficiency and, most importantly, improve its profitability. Marketplaces — whether local, regional, national or global — are becoming highly competitive. Competition has increased as a result of wider access to new technologies and the increased trading and knowledge-sharing opportunities offered by the Internet.

Everyone can innovate. Innovation means coming up with new ways of doing things. Bringing innovation into your business can help you save time and resources, and give you the competitive advantage to grow and adapt your business in the marketplace.

It is important to be clear about the difference 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 could be:

· improving or replacing business processes to increase efficiency and productivity, or to enable the business to extend the range or quality of existing products and/or services;

· developing entirely 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

Whatever form it takes, innovation is a creative process. The ideas may come from:

· inside the business, e.g. from employees, managers or in-house research and development work

· outside the business, e.g. suppliers, customers, media reports, market research published by another organization, or universities and other sources of new technologies

Identifying Opportunities for Innovation:

Opportunities for innovation can be identified by adapting a product or service to the way the marketplace is changing. For example, if you’re a specialist bread manufacturer, you might consider lowering the fat content in your bread to appeal to the health-conscious consumer.

A business opportunity can also be developed by identifying a completely new product.

Innovation could also be made by introducing new technology, techniques or working practices — perhaps using better processes to give a more consistent quality of product.

Research has shown that people have less time to go to the market. A producer could overhaul the distribution processes, offering customers a logistic service which provides door-step delivery service, possibly tied in with online and telephone ordering.

In a situation where the main competitors of a products have a reputation for being cheap and cheerful, rather than trying to undercut them on price, innovation by revamping the marketing to emphasize the quality of the merchandise — and consider charging a premium could be a better option.

Planning Innovation:

Some innovative ideas may just come to you out of the blue. However, ideally, it’s best to have:

· Innovation as part of a business strategy

· A strategic vision of how the business should develop — If time is dedicated to monitoring trends in the business sector, innovative efforts can be focused on the most important areas.

Innovation will not only improve the chances of your business surviving, but also help it to thrive and drive increased profits. There are lots of practical ways of assessing whether your ideas have profit potential:

· Assess the competition

· Awareness of the climate in which your business is operating will help you to plan.

· Building a relationship with customers

· Involving suppliers and other business partners

After planning your innovation process, it’s best to consider what taking a particular innovative step could mean for your business. You can start by asking salient questions like:

· What impact will it have on your business processes and practices

· What extra training your staff may require

· What extra resources you may need

· How you’ll finance the work

· Whether you’ll be creating any intellectual property that will need protecting

Success comes from filtering those ideas, identifying those what 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

· Going out of business


There are a lot of challenges faced by modern day business; especially from competition or competitors; not to talk of government regulators, restrictions and harsh economic environment. But like the cat with nine lives, a modern day business must not take chances. They must innovate and this innovation must put into cognizance the environmental factors, governmental factors and customers’ requirements to be able to excel as a modern day business in any harsh economy or realities.

“Business is basically about marketing and innovation, all other units are cost centers”

– Peter Drucker

This school of thought is very true; as a business is about profit and the only thing that results into profit intrinsically is sales. The simple solution meeting customers’ satisfaction in an ever changing world is to innovate.

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