Catalyzing Innovation

POINT OF VIEW

CUSTOMER-INTEGRATED INNOVATION

Dynamic networked business changes the innovation game for innovation. Traditionally, innovation occurs at the beginning of a linear process. The innovation of a technology, or the innovative design of a product drives engineering and production. There is typically then the proverbial "wall" over which these products get thrown for sales to sell and marketing to promote. There is no closed-loop process to capture and leverage the customer's adaptation and expansion process that provides valuable solutions and services portfolio expansion opportunities for the seller.

A continuous innovation process on the other hand connects the customers' adaptation process to a mirroring innovation adaptation and expansion process inside the business. In this closed-loop process the impetus for solution modifications, new service ideas or even new technology development can come from "observing and understanding" how an individual is adapting the original product to completely fulfill what they are trying to do.

From a customer experience perspective it is critical for the seller to facilitate this adaptation process so that it is effective and productive, rather than inefficient and expensive for the customer. Facilitating the adaptation and expansion process requires a company to understand (and eventually anticipate): 1) what the customer is trying to do; and 2) how they are currently using the seller's technology, products, and/or solutions.

To initiate a continuous innovation process:

  1. Segment either the installed customer base or prospective customer groups in a way that is actionable from the perspective of being able to serve them through continuous solution and service innovation (e.g. unserved needs, role-based experience requirements, etc.)
  2. Prioritize and select critical segments to grow revenue and profits
  3. Thoroughly understand what those prioritized customers are trying to do and how solutions are being used to achieve this.
  4. Understand how a number of customers are adapting those solutions to fulfill needs. Identify any adaptation trends across customers within a segment, or across segments.
  5. Define ways to innovate solution extensions, new services, or even whole new integrated technologies that the customer would value because it would diminish their resource investment in adaptation and expansion.