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3 Trends Driving the Evolution of Innovation

From the experts | Posted on May 23, 2013 by Aaron Brooks

Innovation: it’s a word ranked in the top 10 of the most overused marketing terms in the past few years. You see it everywhere you go. It’s used to describe everything from new cars and smartphones to sports equipment and food.

While there are countless books written on this topic, it should be noted that a lot of these book were written years before the term became common place in our vocabulary. Today, one thing is for certain…innovation itself is evolving, and going through its own changes.

The root cause of this change relates to a renewed focus on the “why”…the purpose, cause or belief that is the driving motivation for action. Simon Sinek’s Start with Why is well known on the topic of why, and I think it offers a good explanation of why companies like Apple succeed. What’s missing is how the “new” innovation impacts today’s marketplace.

I would add in the following three trends that contribute to the evolution of innovation we’re seeing with clients everday.

The Crowd
It used to be cliché, being just one of the crowd, but now most new innovations are sparked from, and driven by the crowd. Opening up traditional R&D departments to embrace the ideas and input from a larger group of employees, partners, customers and even competitors, can drive more creativity into a once heavily process driven, internally focused experience. Leveraging social media and including diverse groups does a number of other things for a company outside of generating great ideas such as:

  • helping to socialize what is important to an organization,
  • creating awareness of new services and solutions,
  • building better relationships that create an environment of open communication and collaboration to mutual benefit.

Technology
What hasn’t happened in technology? It would probably take less time to explain that than going over the advancements in technology in the past few years. The point here is that with technology advancing at such a rapid pace, less focus is being put into the “features and benefits race” and technology is desperately redefining its meaning by linking to business outcomes. IT and the role of the CIO are changing, IT needs to become an enabler of technology, not a gatekeeper to technology.

Culture
People are driven by much more than money, they are driven by a number of elements that are summed up by Daniel Pink in his book “Drive”. He touches on 3 key elements that drive behavior, Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose.

People are looking for more, they want to feel a sense of ownership, they want to feel aligned to a purpose that is bigger than themselves, they want to feel a sense of accomplishment and learn new things. What does this have to do with Innovation you ask…well, quite a bit actually. The biggest change to innovation is coming at the cultural level where organizations are seeking to foster an environment of innovation that empowers everyone to look at things differently and to seek advances in how things are done.

In the end, innovation is about change, looking at new ways of doing things. Taking into consideration the “why”, opening it up to “the crowd” and leveraging “technology” to support business initiatives is the key to innovation in any company. Is it perfect? Will you get it right the first time? Probably not, but the “culture” you create in getting there will bring benefits far greater than the output of the process itself.

At Softchoice, we’ve recently created a new Innovation Office with a dedicated team focused on researching the biggest trends our customers are facing. Our goal is to design processes, services and systems that help customers capitalize and realize returns on upcoming trends related to their own business strategies. The Softchoice Innovation Office is unique in the opportunity it provides to customers to participate in the co-development and structured idea sharing of new services and solutions with us.

You’ll be hearing lots more from us soon. In the meantime, what are your thoughts on innovation?

How is your organization managing it? Leave your comments below and let’s start a dialog!

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