Innovation is an aspect that should be at the core of every company looking to succeed in today’s business landscape.
Innovative tools and ideas can drive your company forward, allowing you to overtake competitors and attract an ever-growing base of loyal customers.
As a business professional – whether you’re just graduating, or have been in an industry for decades – it’s important to understand what product innovation is, how to apply innovative thinking to your role, and how you can encourage innovation in your wider team.
Here’s everything that business professionals need to know about product innovation.
What is product innovation?
Product innovation involves finding the best improvements in design to improve your product’s feel, materials, look, and functionality.
These improvements can help improve the customer experience, cut down on costs, and adapt your product to meet the changing needs of the market.
Continual product innovation can help your company to stay relevant, even in fast-paced markets. If you’re constantly improving and adapting your offering to customers, you can ensure your long-term viability, and reduce competition from other companies.
What’s the difference between product and process innovation?
Two types of innovation that companies need to consider are product and process innovation. There is a difference between the two, however.
Product innovation refers to the things that you make, whereas process innovation refers to the way you manufacture, distribute and sell your product.
Why is product innovation important?
Product innovation is important for any company. Here are some of the reasons why you should encourage it in your team.
Helps to grow your business
If you want your company to succeed, you need to provide the best products and services to your customers.
The product launch process doesn’t just end when your final product is in the hands of the customer, it’s up to you to keep on improving and iterating your product to meet the changing needs of consumers.
Consumer habits frequently fluctuate, and your products may become obsolete if they do not match with market trends.
Gives you a competitive advantage
Product innovation can help you to overtake your competitors by better serving your target market, improving your core products, and redefining the market through the introduction of new products.
Keeps your team focused
Adopting a culture where product innovation is at the core of what you do can help to build a more successful and productive team.
If your team know that innovation is important, they’re more likely to seek out new opportunities for improvement and embrace potential changes in the market.
How leaders can encourage innovation in their teams
If you’re leading a team, it’s up to you to encourage your employees to foster innovative thinking at every opportunity when it comes to designing, launching and improving your product.
Here are some ways that leaders can encourage innovation in their teams.
Adopt a customer-focused approach
The best innovation comes when businesses step into the shoes of their customers and adapt their products accordingly.
Your customers know what they want, and if your product is not providing this, they will select a competitor instead.
Think about why your customers choose your product and consider if there’s anything you could do to improve how people interact with it.
One way you can do this is by conducting market research and asking customers how they think you could improve.
Be aware of your capabilities
Your team may produce excellent ideas but, unfortunately, your company may not always have the resources or finances to turn these concepts into reality.
To avoid disappointment, it’s important to develop a good understanding of what you’re capable of in terms of material and monetary limitations and to use this as a framework for innovative thinking.
Foster a culture of innovation
If you can create a culture for your team where they are encouraged to suggest ideas, seek new opportunities, and question existing designs, you’ll find it much easier to create better, more innovative products.
But creating a culture of innovation goes beyond just encouragement, it can also include:
- Allowing cross-team collaboration
- Hosting regular brainstorming sessions
- Encourage the team to look for alternative methods and solutions to everything they do
- Step outside the office and switch up locations to gain new perspectives
- Encourage learning by mistakes
- Use IdeaBoxes to give staff an outlet for their new ideas
Try to stay ahead
Product innovation isn’t about finishing one product and then moving on to the next, it’s about a company making a commitment to stay one step ahead at all times.
Rather than thinking about what your customers need now, try to anticipate what they may need in the future and make sure that your company is the first one offering them this.
Hone your resources, processes and teams to think into the future. This will make innovation easier and help you to consistently stay ahead of other competitors in your field.
Keep an eye out for new trends, emerging competitors, changing customer habits as well as opportunities for your business to disrupt a new market, launch a new product, or connect with customers in different, exciting ways through your product.
Thinking on a larger scale will help your team to think bigger while creating truly innovative products.
Put your innovative thinking to work
Innovative thinking is an important skill that all companies are searching for. If you’re able to adopt these skills you’ll find it much easier to land your dream career and make a real impact in the company you work for.
If you want to put your innovative thinking to the test and learn how product innovation is the driving force behind many of today’s most successful businesses, our qualifications at EU Business School may be the perfect next step for you: