In our recent blogs, we’ve been digging into all the elements of continuous innovation. We’ve looked at five practices that are key to accelerating innovation and fueling business growth. These include strategies for developing new high-value products and services; planning intelligently to gain a 360-degree view of market demand; qualifying and selecting suppliers to turn collaboration into faster innovations; making products that are personalized at scale; and – finally – creating new business models like products as a service that can provide new revenue streams.
Now that you have a blueprint of what it takes to embrace continuous innovation, how do you get started on making it happen? Here are six steps you can take to get started on your path to continuous innovation.
Start by building a roadmap with a well-defined goal. Determine what you want your company to look like in the next few years. What are you trying to accomplish in your industry and what are you trying to be as a company? To use a simple analogy: “What do you want to be when you grow up.” This could mean a focus on business growth and market expansion; a push into new product lines; or even a reformulation of your entire business model—perhaps with an emphasis on products as a service. Whichever vision you choose to pursue, be sure to center it around your customers and what the market is telling you. Without a customer-centric strategy, your efforts at innovation will likely be misplaced and your outcomes less than satisfactory.
Determination, size, and skill can help drive business success over the long run. But according to the Boston Consulting Group (BCC), none of that matters if you don’t have a culture of innovation to build on them for continuing success. As you get started on the path to continuous innovation, focus on empowering people with the collaborative tools they need to create a company-wide culture of innovation. This way you can structure the end-to-end innovation process and collect the best ideas to push them quickly through a development cycle that keeps costs and schedules under control. Creating a systematic process makes it easier to create a culture where everyone has a voice and no good ideas are wasted.
Innovation should start with your customers: Understand what drives them to your products and discover what can keep them coming back for the next big thing. This is why the world’s most innovative companies capture and analyze customer insights anywhere they can find them -- whether it’s directly from the voice of the customer, from sensors embedded in your product, and or from social media and other feedback networks that reveal innovations your customers would love to see. Leverage these insights to prioritize the continuous innovations that keep customers satisfied and from switching vendors. Simultaneously, this approach also equips your field service teams to deliver the right service every time.
In most cases, on-premises legacy business applications don’t have the scalability, flexibility, and integration necessary to spin up multiple, complex innovations quickly and efficiently. Cloud suites can deliver the tools and visibility you need to quickly design, plan, source, make, and serve new products and offerings. To jump start innovation – and keep driving it over time – the most successful companies unify their data and processes on a single “platform for innovation.” When all relevant data is gathered and accessible on a single platform, organizations can drive faster innovation and leverage best practices throughout the product innovation and development cycles.
Ensure that your new product and service introductions are seamlessly aligned with tactical supply chain planning and execution so you can synchronize and measure the impact of every innovation. Here too, a single unified platform with built-in analytics can help make your planning continuous, allowing you to deliver real-time insights and share accurate master data from the initial concept through to the rest of the supply chain organization. Your teams now get a head start on identifing the right parts and suppliers, at the right price, and match inventories to meet demand forecasts. And remember you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Learn from your successes and failures to make it easier to enforce a best-practice process that’s repeatable and scalable.
By collaborating with a great vendor – one that understands the needs of your evolving business – you can quickly build a “platform for innovation.” Your vendor can help you integrate your entire value chain, from idea capture and product development to supply chain planning and manufacturing to post-delivery customer service and success. In short, you translate the right ideas into value sooner.
 Boston Consulting Group, “Serial Innovators Outperform in Times of Recovery,” June 22, 2020
Kirk Carlsen is PLM Cloud Product Marketing Analyst at Oracle. Follow him on Twitter @kcarlsenjr and connect on LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/in/kirk-carlsen-7672aa3