I’ve been thinking about the new stuff that companies do.
Innovation. Too many projects in businesses are given that title. It devalues the word and what it should really mean. It leads to that sad statistic that 80% of new products launched don’t survive….which given companies are generally very risk adverse is a pretty pathetic hit rate.
Unfortunately most companies believe that implementing anything new is innovation, which is more a reflection of how difficult they make it to get stuff done rather than anything that would make a real person go “wow – that’s neat”.
That’s not to say that a whole range of things can’t build your business but if we are honest with each other most of it isn’t innovation. Try this simple categorisation test for the new stuff you or your company are working on:
CATEGORY 1: Stuff your customers think you already do because you are behind the curve or is so obvious that you should do like….
- An innovation CRM project that allows your company to know when a customer has called (all service companies want this and most don’t have it covered yet)
- An innovation IT system that allows your company to see a single view of a customer (i.e. you know what products I have from you) (all the big banks want this but most don’t have it)
- Servicing your account online or opting for e-statements (Barclaycard have been pushing this to their customers in the last year or so as they played catch up)
CATEGORY 2: Stuff your customers think you should do already like…..
- Giving me a accurate bill for my gas and electricity (British Gas are advertising this now)
- Calling to tell me when you are going to get to my house (British Gas recently advertised this)
- Writing documents in plain English without jargon (like AXA are advertising currently)
CATEGORY 3: Stuff which customers recognise is new but don’t really care that much about like….
- Making a mortgage application short or simple (ING Direct are advertising this now)
- Contactless payment (Barclaycard most famously pushed this with their blue tubes adverts and Visa have joined the party recently)
- Paying me £5 a month to swap my bank account (The Halifax Reward account with that atrocious radio show TV advert)
and finally if you have any left….
CATEGORY 4: Stuff which customers recognize is new and really want like…
- A truly easy to use fusion mobile smartphone that moulds to your needs (the iPhone)
- A drink which is 2 of your 5 day and tastes great (Innocent Smoothies)
- Off-set mortgages (Virgin One Account – this was a real financial product innovation which gave a real benefit to some)
- Hybrid cars (Toyota and Honda – true technological innovations)
- LED lightbulbs (which replace 50W halogens with 4W almost never ending bulbs)
- Widgets which gave a smooth pour from a can (can’t remember who launched this first Guinness? Boddingtons? – but it was an innovation that delivered a real benefit)
- Wash and Go 2 in 1 shampoos (yes – even this was a true innovation which solved a customer need that of simplicity)
It’s the last category of course that are real innovations requiring significant investments and creative thinking rather than battling with internal restrictions and bureaucracy.
How much of what you are working on that is called “innovation” could really be placed in the last category? If it’s lots that’s great – I can’t wait for these new breakthroughs to get to market! If it’s lots in the other categories (as I suspect it will be) that’s not necessarily a bad thing but make sure you don’t believe your own “innovation hype”- because it’s your customers that really know whether what you’ve just launched is new, truly different and worthy of lasting.
As ever I would love to hear what you think. Get involved, share your ideas, comment below – every comment wins a personal thank you from me!
Hope “The Teenies” are treating you well!
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