The term innovation is simply defined as exploiting new ideas leading to the creation of a new product, process or service. But you need to understand that it is not just the invention of a new idea that is very necessary, but it is actually exploiting it in a manner that leads to new products, services or systems that add value or improve quality. Innovation as a process involves technological transformation and management restructuring.

It can also be described as the act of exploiting new technology and employing out-of-the-box thinking to create new value that brings about significant changes in the world. According to research, there are many types of innovation such as ‘Product Innovation’ which is the introduction of a new or improved product or a service; ‘Process Innovation’ which is the implementation of a new or a significantly improved production or delivery method; ‘Supply Chain Innovation’ where innovations change the sourcing of input products from the market and the delivery of output products to customers; and ‘Marketing Innovation’ which results in the evolution of new methods of marketing with enhancements in product design or packaging, its promotion or pricing, among others.

In this new age and with the advent of technology, the need for innovation is growing rapidly. It has become a key factor in influencing strategic planning. Innovation has become synonymous to wealth creation. Even though efficiency is very important for business success, in the long run, it cannot sustain business growth. A well planned and measured combination of ideas, objects, and people leads to innovation resulting in new business ideas and technological revolutions. But for a product and service to be acknowledged as being innovative, it needs to be strong enough to progress through rigorous commercialization processes.

A lot of organizations are adopting measures to strengthen their ability to innovate. Such companies are creating a dependable operating system for innovation, an important indicator of corporate sustainability. It is very important to note that competition combined with strong demand is a major driver of innovation. Innovation, besides products and services, also includes new processes, new business systems and new methods of management, which have a significant impact on productivity and growth.

In this age and with the need to make life easier, we need innovators more than any other time. The only thing capable of bringing added value and widen the employment base is innovation. Innovation is very important if the quality of life in these trying times is to improve. Innovation will make the world a better place for generations to come.

Ways To Innovate A Product Or Technology

  1. Be inquisitive

To be innovative or create an innovative product or technology, you need to question everything, even the things you already think you know. Through this questioning you may find new ways to approach something. You can start by looking at the things you do each day. Ask yourself who else does it and how they may do it differently. There are many ways to approach most tasks, and if you assume that yours is the best, you’re taking a fairly big risk. Also when considering the different methods, ask yourself why the person who started the method chose to use it. Question whether other alternatives were considered and rejected. Also ask yourself if other assumptions or constraints limited that source’s actions.

  1. Your product or technology must have an identifiable purpose

In this age, people buy products for the need that the products will serve. It could be that the product brings joy to them, or tickles their fancy. As long as the product brings a certain satisfaction or solves a purpose for them, that alone would make them acquire the product. A cheaper product may be the reason for consumers to buy your product and not the competitions. There are many reasons which could make consumers choose your product over your competitor’s. Always chase that reason and imbibe it in your product.

  1. Combine and Eliminate

You can also innovate a product by combining the said product with something else to make something new. It works at all levels. Imagine a pillow with neck massager, a car with a lie dictator or a flight with a massage. What could you take out of your product or service to make it better? For instance, Dell eliminated the computer store, Amazon eliminated the bookstore, the Sony Walkman eliminated speakers and record functions.

  1. Make your product clear and efficient

You need to make sure your prospective clients would be glad when they get your product. It should make a difference in their lives somehow. It is also important that you describe what your product can do for them. When products/services are easily described and their use is easily understood, they become easier to sell. It also becomes easier for you to relate what the product will do for the consumer, and easier for consumers to understand what the product will do for them.

  1. Acquire adequate knowledge

Learning by reading books is indeed a great way to learn, but it will only take you so far. You need to get into the field and acquire first-hand knowledge of the way things really work, so you can understand how to streamline and improve on things within that field. Also understand that the knowledge available in books was first discovered by people who didn’t have such books to work with. These authors were people who experienced matters for themselves, and their experiences brought about information that would last beyond their own lifetime. Since no two people see the world in exactly the same way, by viewing or experiencing something for yourself, you bring your own unique set of questions and beliefs to the table.

  1. Support your instincts with data

Most innovations start as instincts. Your instincts may be showing a very good idea, but you have to back those instincts with data to ascertain how great the idea is. Sometimes the data will support your instincts, but other times, it may prove your instincts to be wrong. It’s very important to state that custom surveys and product tests are both great ways to collect data on your ideas. These tools provide you with data specifically tailored to your project and your target market.

  1. Plan and Brainstorm

You can also add new targets for products and services in your business plan. Put it onto the balanced scorecard. Write innovation into everyone’s objectives. Understand it and it will happen. It’s also advisable that you conduct regular brainstorm meetings where you generate a large quantity of new product ideas. Use diverse groups from different areas of the business and include a provocative outsider e.g. a customer or supplier.

  1. Build a Brand

Branding is how you protect your product. It is the unique way to increase the value of your business, which then makes your product or technology the most trusted among many. Branding is the layer that covers your product or a layer which stands for your product. You will definitely need a logo and your product’s packaging is very important. It should communicate a psychology that captures consumers. It should also clearly communicate your business’s name. When people think of a good product, your brand should come up.

  1. Start small and grow

Procrastination has killed so many dreams. If you wait until you have the means to kick off a big plan, you’ll be waiting a long time and will likely lose momentum as you sit around. It is advisable that you commit as quickly as possible by taking small steps toward your goal. You need to give concrete form to abstract ideas as quickly as possible. Start by creating a prototype of the project you are working on. Improve the actual prototype instead of trying to make all of your improvements only on paper. Have it in mind that investing everything you have in a major innovation without approaching it in a few minor, cautious steps can be a waste of resources. Taking small steps will allow you to change direction along the way as needed.

  1. Do not chase Perfection

Try not to take forever perfecting your product. Things change, people change, relevance change; who knows; someone might come up with an idea similar to yours. Try not to make the mistake of overloading your product, the best way to test its viability is to release it in the market, and improve it along the way. If the product is able to serve a particular purpose and add value in the market, people are always ready to pay money for it. Research has shown that the best way to learn as an entrepreneur (value provider) is through engaging your product with the market (selling), as soon as possible. Whatever the stage of the product, it must serve value or purpose that can make people exchange money for it.

Conclusion

Just like we stated already, everything changes; people change, competition gets harder, and other factors like piracy take course. Say you release your product this year and people buy it, then next year and the following years, they have no reason to buy it again because they have it already. This is why to stay relevant you need to constantly give them a reason to continue buying. Your goal as an innovator and an entrepreneur is to acquire wealth everyday (or year) if possible, and keep making it. So, the year following the product release, release something that the same consumer who bought the first product can buy, so as to keep making money.

Note that this new product or technology can be an enhancement of the current product, those that bought old one would want the new one because it has something that the old doesn’t have. Be very careful not to totally take the vibe out of the previous product. It might make your first consumers upset with your company. In summary, innovating successful products needs a strategic framework that keeps the “innovation engine” running smoothly; and motivated, high-performance teams operating under a light process management system that encourages new ideas.

Ajaero Tony Martins