by Lewis Robinson
Every small business should be focused on the future, and that means building innovation into internal processes. To remain competitive against big corporations and an endless stream of internet startups, companies looking for growth must produce new products and services to engage new markets. And not just occasionally, but frequently.
Innovate for Progress.
Production, shipping, time to market, and other functions must improve to keep pace with technology and evolving consumer demands. Managers and employees are depending on innovation for direction.
Managing innovation can be seen as a type of forecasting. Being the first with a new idea or new methodology helps to create a unique niche. In today’s digital world, good ideas can take the world by storm even for the smallest company.
Traditional management is learning to work by new rules. Centralized command and controlled processes are being phased out in favor of flexibility. New ideation principles are more than coming up with new products or services in brainstorming sessions. It requires inventing and motivating a whole new culture based on constant evolution.
One of the ways this can be achieved is through immersion in developing technologies, particularly the internet. Nearly 87 percent of the US population spend time online. The online economy is really a global economy. This global network has eliminated geographic barriers and dramatically reduced timeframes.
SMS, video conferencing, and file sharing on the cloud can keep different locations or traveling sales and management in sync in essentially real time. Blogs, social media, and surveys let companies compile an endless stream of customer feedback. Connected smart devices, or the Internet of Things (IoT), is automatically compiling data. Companies have a treasure trove of information and tools that weren’t there just 5 years ago, and will only expand 5 years from now.
A Digital Model.
A shift of priorities is under way so that businesses can keep pace with a digital world that is always requiring more – more bandwidth, memory, channels, options, customization, and faster services. Consumers are communicating with reviews and shares that companies must keep track of.
Contact lists, customer data, and the number of mobile employees continue to increase. Given all the useful apps, and the capacity to designing and creating company-specific ones, no business can get by without tablets and smartphones. Virtual meetings are the norm. Emails collect too fast to keep up with.
Connect with Assets.
The internet with its near real-time data transfer rates allows companies to connect every day with more consumers, partners, and vendors. Businesses of any size can connect with consultants or supply chains from around the country or around the world. Cloud-based services provide better services like virtual bookkeeping that put smaller businesses on par with large ones. Online learning and virtual reality have revolutionized the training programs of many organizations. The variety of new cloud services that are presented continue to amaze. Innovation in one form of another is a constant element of business.
Innovation will also be important element of doing business in the foreseeable future. Managing expectations and delivery is crucial to sustaining growth. Businesses that stagnate are quickly overlooked and forgotten.
Staying on top or ahead of innovation is partly luck, but also based in science. The total amount of data captured by industry doubles every 14 months. The era of big data analytics gives small businesses the opportunity to discover the patterns that their unique operation can leverage. It requires both statistical analysis and examination of data like social reach that’s not easy to quantify. Modern analytics is meant to expose insights that human analysts would overlook.
Innovation requires businesses to rethink how their resources can be used. Adapting and even thriving on disruption should be at the core of every small business model. Traditional models are not sustainable; success today is about managing innovation.
Lewis Robinson is a business consultant specializing in social media marketing, CRM, and sales. He’s begun multiple corporations and currently freelances as a writer and business consultant.