Markets are becoming increasingly competitive, and advances in technology and digitisation are putting companies under increasing pressure. To stay in the game, businesses need to innovate. Innovation can be the difference between make or break.
Whether it’s adopting advances in technology, embracing agile methodologies, adapting the workplace to retain staff or responding to customer needs and industry trends, all come under the innovation umbrella and enable business to thrive and grow.
Innovation is about bringing new ideas to the fore. You can invent an idea, but how you develop it, implement it, or bring it to market is innovation. It doesn’t have to be a major breakthrough; it could be small changes to a product or process that improve productivity within your business.
For example, we recently worked with a specialist engineering company to aid improvements to production line technology. Using generative design of a vacuum device, the 3M BIC design team took the CAD file, critically evaluated and optimised it, additively manufactured the revision and x-rayed it to verify internal integrity, leading to a more streamlined production process that limited damage to products.
Innovating to ensure customers’ needs are met puts you in a strong position to retain their business by building up a level of trust, showing that you’re putting their needs at the heart of your business. It can also help you better engage with employees. By involving staff from the bottom up to suggest ways to improve the business, it will feel like a team effort. Encourage ideas with incentives and make sure you reward success.
Strategy away days are a great way to involve the whole team and we often have companies using our facilities, away from their day-to-day work, to help generate ideas for future business models and better products or services. One of our rooms features floor to ceiling whiteboards that are great for capturing brain storming sessions.
Innovation is about introducing something new to your business and should be part of every corporate growth strategy. Innovation can help:
- create new or improved products
- help penetrate markets faster or connect to new ones
- secure larger market share and enable you to become more competitive
- foresee challenges and find ways to avoid them or solve them in creative ways
- increase productivity
- motivate, retain and increase staff
- reduce costs
- increase brand awareness
- anticipate disruptive challenges from new business models or technologies.
Don’t get left behind
Choose to ignore innovation and you could be at risk of:
- losing your share of the market and risk being overtaken by competitors
- low staff retention – staff may feel demotivated and move on
- low productivity/ efficiency – if systems are old, they could be slowing you down
- reduced margins and low profitability
- jeopardising the future of the business – putting your head in the sand could be detrimental to the future of your business.
Once decided on what or where you need to innovate, set yourself goals and objectives (short and long term) to help plan how to approach your innovation project and monitor them regularly to ensure they are still inline with your overall business strategy.
The cost of innovation is often the first hurdle, but funding sources are available that can help businesses drive it forwards, so don’t let that put you off. Time can also be a challenge, particularly for SMEs, so seek out partners, such as the 3M BIC or universities to help tap into the latest technology or to share R&D.
If you’re looking to innovate, but unsure where to start, contact a member of our team today. We can help integrate innovation into your business strategy, provide access to advanced technologies for product development, and can signpost to innovation funding to get your project off the ground.
Contact 01484 505601 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org