Innovation is a much-used word in the business community. Unfortunately, it is often associated with digital or disruption examples, such as Uber or Airbnb.
Many CEO’s simply don’t relate their own situation to these examples and innovation therefore appears abstract.
Innovation is not abstract, nor is it about a particular industry or business size. It is simply about using creativity, invention and change to improve your business.
One example of innovation is developing new products or services. These can increase profitability, market share or open up new revenue streams.
Taking a new product or a service from a concept through to successful launch and growth can be very tricky.
Get this right and you have the opportunity for better price and brand positioning, along with increased market share and profitability. It also is a great way to set you apart from your competitors.
Another bonus is the boost to company morale, through a shared sense of achievement.
Get it wrong, and……whoops…. a heap of time and cash is burnt.
Proof of Concept
For those that have experienced this process, it starts with an apparently huge number of options that all seem a puzzle. Initially it is very hard to make progress, as each option is dependent on another variable.
This chaotic stage that can be very frustrating. Good concepts often get put in the “too hard basket” at this stage.
“Proof of Concept” is a logical process, to identify the need, the key attributes of the new product, it’s price point, challenges, etc.
This aim is to outline the concept and confirm it is attractive to the target audience. The basic commercial numbers must also stack up using the assumptions made at this point.
There are some great desk top tools that can help guide your team with at this stage and save a huge amount of time and expense.
I recently helped two separate business owners who had identified a new joint business opportunity. They had budgeted about $35,000 for their initial testing to be done over 4 months.
My desk top sessions with them, quickly showed they would have wasted $35,000 and 4 months!
It also pointed the way to their current successful JV which took a different path.
Begin your development stages once a Proof of Concept is established.
The development stages
Prototyping, testing, validation, packaging, certification, technical data sheets, safety instruction and marketing collateral etc., evolve and become “set” during the development.
Make sure your project leader has sufficient knowledge and confidence to interpret the customer empathy, technical development results, the business model and commercial implications.
Develop the product or service alongside the commercial model. Ensure that the value proposition is real and that the new product or service will actually realise the profit and cash flows predicted.
Constantly review the product and commercial development.
Some great tips.
Consider a failed test or trial, as positive (even if it’s frustrating). Test failures also help you navigate to success, as the purpose of testing is to check assumptions.
Remain objective when interpreting your test results and avoid “looking through rose-tinted glasses”. Don’t convince yourself that failures are anomalies and ignore them!
Focus on customer empathy because if you don’t have a customer, you don’t have a product worth developing.
Identify the resource and skill set you have to manage your innovation process.
Get some external resource to help with the areas you are weakest in.
If your innovation concept opens the way for export opportunities, then Export Market Development Grants (EMDG) government grants may be available to you. Businesses in regional NSW areas may also qualify for assistance, when increasing employment opportunities.
If you would like an honest appraisal of your development process or need help with specific projects please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0401018282