Innovative products will generally gain mass market adoption because the innovation makes life easier for people. It is the value exchange between investment in the technology and the time it saves that helps ensure successful adoption of innovative technologies. In Part 1 we discussed how innovation can mean different things to different people and that innovation can be defined as an initiative designed to make an improvement, drive transformation or cause complete disruption across a business or market. In this article we look at how companies can get started with innovation initiatives.
The longer a product takes to create, the more likely it is that factors that impact the organisation, or indeed technology itself, will have moved on. This means distilling issues into themes and translating them into an opportunity matrix where features of the app can be prioritised based on the time it takes to create and the value it provides.
Prototyping is one way to rapidly test ideas and see what is most likely to deliver value. A Minimal Viable Product is the minimum you are willing to go to the market with, in order to begin to realise value and begin to receive feedback from users. Value can be realised in a number of ways when companies use prototyping and then create an MVP:
- help determine strategic value to the business
- provide the ability for the business to test/learn/validate your hypotheses
- provides distinct competitive value for the business (alter the landscape)
One of the fundamentals of prototyping is testing to fail. The first version of a product shouldn’t be perfect the first time. This requires a shift in mindset from ‘failure’ as incompetence to ‘failure’ as a legitimate approach to validating possible solutions; which is an integral part of developing a fantastic product or service.
Organisations have to adapt to this mindset when approaching innovation. It’s the failure that helps to lead to success. When it comes to apps and mobility roadmaps, this should be thought of as a wave (or ongoing loop), where companies evaluate the issues to define the scope, test and develop before repeating again. It’s an ongoing and sustained activity.
The point of ‘agile’, or agility in your development process is ultimately ‘business agility’, which is the epitome of continuous learning and continuous delivery. When you have the systems in place within your organisation to do that, you’ve won.
One of the biggest challenges companies face is who has governance over innovation initiatives. Too often, office bureaucracy can get in the way of companies achieving the things they need to, because there are too many chains of command and decision makers. Innovation requires lightweight governance, where there is an executive team responsible for ownership of products, the portfolio and the vision.
With innovation, there needs to be a shift from viewing project management as a standalone project and think about it more as product management. With this, approach product managers should be appointed who should have more responsibility for continuous and ongoing improvements, seeking out new ways to drive innovation.
Having a lightweight structure in place, where teams are able to test hypotheses through taking a minimal viable approach to product development, will help companies to be innovative. By keeping this light weight, it also minimises risk to other parts of the business.
Companies need to be able to adapt and change over time, a failure to adapt has seen many companies disappear. According to the Guardian “More than half the companies that made up the FTSE 100 last time it peaked in 1999 have left the index, transforming the makeup of the group of leading UK shares.” The market landscape, across industries, is constantly shifting and the organisations who are continuously evolving and innovating will continue to disrupt markets and remain leaders.
For more on approaching innovation read Mubaloo’s innovation white paper here.