“I do not need innovation I am a service company. Innovation is all about a new product or a new product feature.”
This is the understanding many business leaders have when talking about innovation. Nothing could be further from the truth. Innovation is the active process of generating meaningful and unique ideas to improve, transform or replace an existing product or service. Yes most traditional uses of innovation focus on creating a new product. However, growing companies are applying innovation to creating new customers, new markets, new distribution and fulfillment channels, new services and new organization structures. Wow – that is a mouthful!
Innovation design centers on taking any product, service or business system (process or technical system) and answering one simple question: “What is the one thing, that if done different, would make a significant difference?” This question empowers the team to take a business service using an end-to-end view of the service to find ways to increase the speed of the service, reduce service risks, and grow the utilization by the customer.
One good example is in the banking industry. Services are designed for residential and business customers and generally include checking capabilities, lock box rental, line-of-credit management, payment clearinghouse and over draft protection. While the banking industry looks at these as services, they can be packaged together in a variety of combinations. Each combination becomes a service pack or product targeting specific customers. When we apply the structure of Intentional Innovation we begin to ask these type sample questions:
- Increase Business Speed – how can the bank decrease the time it takes to process payments and put the money in my account?
- Decrease Risk – how can the service reduce the number of bad payments coming into my account?
- Grow Value – how does the service enable my customers to interact with my team more effectively?
One additional area we see innovation being applied include Customer Service. Customers want to talk to a live person where ever possible. Companies want to insert intelligent voice recognition (IVRU) systems to reduce answer time and reduce costs. What is the right balance? How can you do both? The innovation system enables your team to identify the customer experience desired, understand the frustrations associated with the process, and identify unique options.
The take away today is innovation is not relegated to new products and features. Innovation is a business system to take any important business system or opportunity and generate meaningful ideas for implementation. We have seen great innovations across the business spectrum.