SME Focus

Aligning Innovation Strategy with a Business Strategy

A company struggling to bridge the gap between innovation strategy and business strategy must look at what kind of need drives their business.They can then develop an innovation strategy based on this need.

Innovation is indispensable to business growth. With the business world evolving every moment entrepreneurs need to innovate extensively to keep up with the changes. The traditional way of including innovation strategy in a company was all about training employees on how to use design thinking methods, processes etc., but this is not enough. In the present, market for a company’s innovation strategy to work it is important to align its business processes with the innovator’s way of working.

Here’s Why?

With the growing need to implement innovation strategy better many companies are researching ways of reaping maximum benefits from it. Price Waterhouse Cooper very recently published an ‘innovation benchmark report. This report was made based on a survey with 1220 executives who were based in 44 different countries. The research aimed at finding out what executives understand about innovation globally and the measures that they are taking to reap the maximum benefits out of it. This report clearly captures the changing view of innovation in business. Some of the key highlights found from this research are:

  1. Embracing Collaborative Models:

      Collaborative models like Design thinking and open innovation are increasingly becoming popular with companies today. The research found that companies that used collaborative approaches to innovation increased their growth rate to 15% or more when compared with their counterparts.

  1. Partners for Innovation:

It is interesting to note that 60% of the studied companies think that their employees make for a great partnership when it comes to innovation. The rest 16% or so think that start-ups make for better partners.

  1. Technology the Key Driver of Future Innovation:

The way people view technology in business has changed dramatically with the intense digitalisation of the world. Entrepreneurs no longer view technology as something that needs to be updated to keep up with competitors. It is instead viewed as the main factor that drives innovation. Business executives has also realised that it is not enough to simply develop technology only; developing innovative business models is equally imperative for sustained growth.

So what is the ‘take away’ from the PWC report?

The report clearly highlighted that businessmen are investing in innovation to be able to sustain their companies over a long term. Investing in innovation is not just something that businesses do for the fun of it. It has become a cardinal part that defines a company’s growth.

The success of innovation is measured by the sales growth. Therefore, companies should not simply invest in random innovation of unrelated projects but on something that boosts sales. This is why every company should align innovation strategies with the overall business strategy.

Bridging the Gap

Although the reasons are pretty clear as to why an investment in innovation should align with a company’s business strategy many entrepreneurs struggle to bridge the gap between innovation strategy and business strategy. This is not because of incompetence but because of a lot of unclear answers to cardinal questions.

Questions that involves a vision of the company’s future, key trends impacting the industry, using innovation to respond,  needs to be answered precisely to the point. In many companies there is a lack of research, understanding and evaluation of these questions. Unless the management focuses on the answers it is impossible to develop an innovation strategy that would suit a company. However, if one looks at these questions as a whole it is impossible to get real answers. So it is important that these questions are broken down to parts and then assessed. Breaking down these question while keeping in mind a particular business strategy brings us to three main conclusions.

Find What Seekers Need

      Every company that does business caters to a particular need of the client base. A company struggling to bridge the gap between innovation strategy and business strategy must look at what kind of need drives their business. They can then develop an innovation strategy based on this need.

If one looks at Apple products one can see that it develops new product ideas based on its insight of its clients’ changing needs. To give a more elaborate example, it is common knowledge that music lovers struggle a lot with headphone cables that take a long time to untangle. We now have headphones that are tangle free. How did this come to be?

There is a company that looked at the need (tangle free cables) that drives their business (selling everything music lovers want) and came up with an innovation strategy that would boost their business. This is a classic example of how innovation strategy that is based on client’s needs naturally aligns it with business strategy.

Breaking Benchmark

Innovation strategy can also be based on incrementally improvising products that has already proved itself to be the benchmark of convenience, performance etc.

A good example of a company that innovates using this second tactic is Samsung. Its products always come up as a better version of products that has already been established. The cheaper rates of their products work as a perk for clients.

Technology

Lastly an innovation strategy that is based on evolving new technology can help align it with a company’s business strategy.  An example of a company who bases its innovation strategy on technology is Google.

An Innovation strategy which is unaligned with a company’s business strategy neither bring long term benefits nor profits. The way the business world now views innovation has changed. In order to be at par with this change it is important that businesses implement innovation strategies that equally embrace this changing view. The three strategies discussed above has proved to have work wonders – what with companies like Apple, Samsung, and Google whose names are synonymous with ‘sustained growth and success’ embracing it. Innovation strategies are no longer just theoretical aphorisms. It is increasingly becoming an indispensable part for a company’s growth. The future belongs to those who think in terms of developing innovative strategies that is long term.

Where is your innovative strategy headed?

About the author

SPI Group

An integrated platform created to serve entrepreneurs and service providers. SPI engages with over 100,000 Entrepreneurs & Senior decision makers through a unique combination of cutting edge business magazines, high profile B2B summits and conferences, strategic alliances with Govt, business associations and government bodies. SPI also leverages the power of digital marketing and social media.

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