There are often times when your business might be facing a challenge that you know you need to do something about ASAP but don’t know where to start. Sometimes you don’t have the time or the resources to come up with solutions on your own, or the luxury to outsource help. What can you do when you’re stuck in such a dilemma? Corporate innovation is the answer to your problem!
It’s not only about creating new products or services, it’s a process that helps you and your team adapt to changes, learn from others (including customers), and put ideas into action. If you want to be successful in today’s business world, then you need to take corporate innovation seriously.
The Kenyan economy has been growing at a steady rate of 5.8% per annum, with a projected 5.6% growth in the coming financial year. This will offer SMEs the opportunity to grow their business and continue to contribute to the economy as well as create job opportunities for Kenyans.
What is corporate innovation and why does it matter?
Corporate innovation refers to the intentional fostering of out-of-the-box thinking within corporate environments. The idea is that by encouraging employees to think differently and challenge their assumptions, companies can improve efficiency, reduce waste, and improve the bottom line. This can be achieved through a variety of methods including employee training, strategic management planning and policies, and executive sponsorship.
The benefits of corporate innovation are significant. It can lead to improved productivity, greater employee satisfaction, higher retention rates, and reduced risk. An encouraging environment for innovation enables companies to balance the pursuit of new ideas with the need to maintain business stability. It allows a company to be creative and come up with great ideas while protecting customers from inferior products or services.
Equity Bank Kenya, the largest bank in East Africa is a good example of customised innovation. Launched in June 2015, Equity Bank’s M-banking platform offers mobile banking and financial services. The app was consulted with over 40 stakeholders from across the country to understand customer needs and preferences before being launched.
Within its first full year of operation in Kenya, the platform captured 15% of the total mobile money transfer market in both value and volume of transactions; this is a testament to how effective customised innovation can be for your company or industry.
How does corporate innovation work?
You’ve probably heard the saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. The same goes for innovation. If you don’t innovate, your competitors will and they’ll beat you to market with something that could be revolutionary.
Corporate innovation is all about creating new products and services that meet the needs of your target audience. It may seem like a complicated process to get started but through the three C’s of corporate innovation: Crisis, Curiosity, and Customer-Centric Design (CCDC), you can ensure your team is on the right track. These are the guiding principles that many global organisations, such as Google, Microsoft and Facebook, are adopting to transform their internal corporate culture in order to stay relevant in a world where change is constant. Innovation helps companies keep up with changing times, stay ahead of their competitors, and create an environment that occurs naturally.
Firstly, you need to recognize that innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum - it happens when there’s a crisis or opportunity to be solved. Thereafter, curiosity fuels the need to determine what exactly needs solving and then seek out those who can help you do it. Finally, remember that customer-centric design is key! If you’re going to innovate for your audience, you’ve got to make sure they’re at the centre of everything you do.
A crisis is one of the most important tools when it comes to innovation. It happens when things go wrong, but it’s not always something negative - it can also be an opportunity to find new ways to improve business practices to develop a new product or service. It’s a motivator that drives people to act quickly and decisively. It helps you identify a problem and empathise with the people facing it so that you can search out the root cause of the problem and then fix it.
By identifying unsolved problems that negatively affect your customers or your business, you can prioritise creating solutions that are meaningful and useful to them.
Curiosity is the key to unlocking new opportunities and creating value for your customers. When you ask important questions like ‘why’ and ‘what if’, you’re able to see the world through your customers’ eyes. This will help you reframe your problems and see opportunities where others only see obstacles. By doing this, you’ll be able to create value for your customers by helping them understand their needs, wants, and behaviours better.
Curiosity is also a great way to reframe problems and see opportunities where others only see obstacles. It leads to creative solutions and can help you find new customers for your products or services.
Customer-centric design is a way to generate a long-term competitive advantage by providing value to customers in a way that makes their lives easier without compromising on what really matters: their values and beliefs, interests, and hobbies.
This approach focuses on understanding your customers and how they experience your product or service and then working with them to find solutions that address those needs. You can do this by:
- Asking your customers questions about their lives and experiences, such as why they bought the product or service in the first place.
- Understanding how they feel when they use your product or service, such as whether it has made their life easier or more fun.
- Identifying any pain points in your current process which could be fixed with simple changes.
Your team should focus on creating meaningful, memorable, and valuable experiences for both your customers and your business. Their main goal shouldn’t just be about selling your products or services, it should also be about creating something people want and need to buy and being able to deliver it to them successfully once they do.
How can corporations be innovative?
In order to be innovative, you need to do more than just come up with good ideas. You must create and prioritise an innovative culture within your organisation. This means creating a culture where your team can comfortably express their curiosity and share ideas, where experimentation is encouraged and rewarded, where there are no silos between functions or divisions, and where failure isn’t seen as a bad thing but rather simply part of the process.
This requires leadership that supports innovation at every level of the organisation. This means investing time, resources, and money— sometimes even risk—into ideas that may not pan out but can lead to breakthroughs if they do succeed. It also means creating an innovation strategy focused on solving specific problems or improving areas that have been historically difficult for you to innovate in
Finally, it requires building a team whose members have diverse backgrounds and skill sets so they can collectively tackle challenges from different angles based on their own expertise.
An encouraging environment for innovation enables companies to balance the pursuit of new ideas with the need to maintain business stability. Leaders should foster an atmosphere that encourages creativity, but also ask questions like:
- How do we use our resources most effectively?
- Which business opportunities are most promising?
- What will our customers want in five years?
- Is there a better way to do things?
The key is finding your own unique blend of creativity and practicality—one that works well for your company, its culture and its goals.
Innovation isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity for long-term business survival. In today’s global economy where customers have more choices than ever before, innovation is a key strategy for survival and growth. You can’t just sit back, relax, and hope that your competition is doing the same. They’re likely continuously innovating at their current level, or an even higher level that overtakes yours.
Creating an innovative environment in your business can help you boost motivation and creativity within your team. If you’re ready to start the transformative journey, reach out to us today via email at email@example.com