What business innovation can do for organizations in times of uncertainly and turmoil.

In today’s competitive, fast paced, and disruptive landscape, agility and innovation are key to maintaining competitive advantage. This is especially so, considering the economic outlook.

According to the January 2023 World Economic Outlook Update, global growth will likely fall to 2.9%, which is below the historic average of 3.8%. The International Monetary Fund also projects that a third of global economy will sink into recession this year.

One way that businesses can weather the headwinds is through “business innovation” – but what is it, anyway? Beyond the buzzwords, what does it mean for a business to truly innovate?

What business innovation can do for you

Before examining what business innovation can do, it is important to define what it is – and what it is not.

Business innovation is not just cutting corners to save costs. Instead, it is when companies implement new processes, ideas, services, or products with the express goal of boosting revenue and improving the customer experience. This could mean launching new products and services, making an existing process more efficient, or solving a current business problem.

Denise Kee, Chief Executive Officer, Xtremax

Business innovation is critical to a company’s success for several reasons.

    1. It helps you gain a competitive edge: Business innovation takes into account where the market is, where it is going, and potential disruptors along the way. Such information is useful because it spurs people to think about what strategic changes can be made, what product or services can be introduced or procured, or if there are partnership opportunities to be had with other companies. Essentially, if done right, business innovation forces companies to explore other ways to drive revenue, which is oftentimes how value is created.
    2. It increases efficiency: It is not always directly about the bottom line. Sometimes it is also about tightening up operational processes, making them less costly, less time-consuming, and/or more sustainable. These changes often have downstream benefits, such as helping organisations become more versatile and agile in times of need. Even in periods of high volatility, such as the times we are faced with, such efficiencies add up and allow businesses to thrive.
    3. It improves talent attraction and retention: More than ever, employees – particularly millennials and Gen Z – want to work for mission-driven, fast-moving companies that they believe have a bright future. On the flipside, no one wants to work for companies that have stagnated or stopped innovating. Top talents are looking for growth opportunities, so companies that innovate are ideal grounds for talent to grow along with it.

Getting buy-in for business innovation

However, getting buy-in for innovation can be challenging. A good way to introduce a culture of innovation is to start with areas that have an immediate impact on the work, so staff can see its positive results. Here are some ways to get started:

    1. Modernization: According to the State of the CIO Study 2023 by Foundry, which surveyed 837 IT leaders, modernizing applications and infrastructure is one of the top areas of focus among CIOs in the next three years at 35% – and for good reasons too. App and infrastructure modernization helps organizations protect their investments and refresh their software portfolio by taking advantage of contemporary infrastructure, tools, languages, and other technology progress. Besides, it makes sense on the bottom line, with modernization efforts proven to reduce cost, improve security, generate better revenue, and enrich customer experience – among other benefits.
    2. Adopting cloud management solutions: As of 2022, 94% of enterprises use some form of cloud services. This is because cloud services have a myriad of benefits, from cost savings to data security. However, moving to the cloud is not the end of innovation. For businesses, especially those that are scaling up, innovation can also come in the form of solutions that help you automate or optimize complex processes and workflows in the cloud. Some examples include Nimbus Stream and CloudPrimus from Xtremax, or the Certificate Authority Service (CAS) from Google Cloud, which provides multiple services with a single subscription.
    3. Operational efficiencies: Business innovation is more than just cost savings. It is also about examining new forms of operational efficiencies. Here are a few examples:
      The first is Modern Ops, which helps businesses continuously improve the management and maintenance of complex software systems via automation, continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD), and team collaboration. The second is to leverage cloud services, especially microservices, for scalability and flexibility. The third is DevOps, which fosters collaboration between developers and operational teams and creates more reliable and secure software. Finally, businesses must maintain observability to monitor the entire infrastructure, which in turn leads to faster, more accurate diagnoses and debugging in real time.

Embracing failure for successful innovation

Overall, business innovation allows businesses to adapt to changing environments, meet the evolving needs of customers, and stay ahead of the competition. However, innovation is easier said than done. It often requires active collaboration with others, the ability to overcome resistance from stakeholders, and investing valuable time and resources into generating solutions.

Despite these challenges, the results often outweigh the risks. In fact, business innovation, by its very nature, is all about engaging in constant iteration. The key to success, then, is to embrace failure, turn each one into a steppingstone for the next big venture, then create sustainable, long-term value for the business.