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In the past, innovative businesses had it easy. The pace of change was much slower and first mover advantage was, as a result, more important. Not so today. Let’s face it: even with patent protection, products are largely becoming commoditized. If a brand launches a cool new product it’s now just a matter of months before competitors are able to launch similar products. Globalization and technology innovation is, by and large, commoditizing consumer products.
Brands are reacting to this change by innovating in a different way; namely: through business model and service innovation. Today products are less important in delivering value to businesses; it’s the service wraps and ancillary revenues that count.
Today products are less important in delivering value to businesses; it’s the service wraps and ancillary revenues that count
As a result, innovation has never been more complex. Product innovation on its own is a relatively simple process – a brand simply needs to come up with a creative product that has the potential to sell. Innovation around entire new services and business models is much more complicated however. In fact, business model innovation often involves rethinking the entire raison d'être for the brand.
Recently, technology such as the cloud, connected devices (for example, smartphones or the Internet of Things) and big data have started to enable this transformative innovation. Innovation comes from insight and insight, of course, comes from knowledge and understanding. These technologies generate vast amounts of data that fuel understanding and create the insights needed for truly innovative services and business models.
The Internet of Things (IoT) and big data analytics are crucial as they enable an approach to insight generation the likes of which has never been seen.
In this regard, the Internet of Things (IoT) and big data analytics are crucial as they enable an approach to insight generation the likes of which has never been seen. Sensors in the IoT can record almost anything imaginable; from movement and light to heat and moisture, all of which can provide invaluable information for building new services that consumers will desire. For example – sensors on a piece of electronic equipment can feed back diagnostic information to manufacturers so that they can improve subsequent design or even launch new preventative maintenance services based on what they discover.
Similarly, social media provides a useful platform for idea generation. Social platforms have become the go-to for many consumers to share their feedback on everything from customer experience to product design and application. Consumers are reaching out directly to the official social pages of businesses to share their opinions, and this represents real-time customer insights which the company should tap into. This is already happening when it comes to the marketing and communications departments, but it makes complete sense for companies to capture and analyse customer sentiment to inform R&D.
Consumers are reaching out directly to the official social pages of businesses to share their opinions, and this represents real-time customer insights which the company should tap into.
IoT and big data analytics, therefore, can contribute a great deal across entire product lifecycles and enhance the supply chain dramatically – but only if it is managed correctly. This new data driven world of ours makes for incomparably more complex supply chains than in the past. With the huge volume of data coming into businesses from so many different sources, it can seem to be a never-ending task trying to collate, integrate, analyse and extract useful intelligence from it all. Yet this is a task that cannot be shirked if brands want to remain competitive.
For this reason companies must ensure that they have a single, unified orchestration and collaboration platform in place. Brands need to look for solutions that address all dimensions of innovation – including portfolio management, front-end ideation, product development and launch – with a single, cross-functional product view that integrates with the product record. There are more moving parts than ever when it comes to innovation, so businesses must ensure they are capable of keeping them perfectly orchestrated and tuned.
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