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How Innovation Consulting Could Benefit Your Business
Is innovation a deeply rooted part of your organization’s culture? In today's competitive landscape, It’s more than just a buzzword. It has become a mindset of Millennials that drives growth and disrupts complacency. Every business needs to embrace and feed innovation. It’s often a huge part of transformations but nurturing it with only internal team members is not always possible.
Many times, you need an innovation consultant who can put you back in touch with your entrepreneurial spirit. Hiring an innovation consultant can help your business in numerous ways.
Don't worry if you're new to the concept of innovation consultant. In this post, we will answer all your questions and provide critical insights on the topic.
Who is an Innovation Consultant?
An innovation consultant delivers advice, guidance, and direction to businesses seeking new growth and business strategies. Innovation, in this context, ties directly to creating more value for your customers. That value could represent different things, not just technological advances, as many tend to associate it solely with this sector. It’s applicable across many industries.
Do Business Leaders Prioritize Innovation?
While looking at the innovation landscape, it’s on the radar of most growth-minded leaders. The McKinsey Global Innovation Survey found that 84% of executives believe innovation is key for business growth. However, only 6% are satisfied with the current innovative efforts supporting performance.
We can say that everyone is on the innovation bandwagon. The execution, however, is off the rails. Much of that comes down to either a lack of a strategy altogether or one without a clear direction. If this is where your business stands, then innovation consulting firms can provide the catalyst you need to rethink innovation.
How Can an Innovation Consultant Support Your Company?
Depending on your industry, needs, and other factors, an innovation consultant can be a pivotal resource in your journey. Here are some examples of how they work to support businesses.
Finding What’s Broken and Fixing It
Your company might have processes & workflows that aren’t efficient. Growth blocks if a company’s culture doesn’t celebrate continuous and incremental improvement. Processes become stale and could be doing more harm than good. Employees who spend a lot of time developing workarounds aren’t innovating.
Referring to an innovation consultant and discussing your organization’s situation with them will help you identify methods to improve. So, look to an innovation consultancy to identify the breakdowns in your organization and provide actionable solutions to improve them.
Entering with a Fresh, Unbiased Perspective
Leadership and employees have biases. There is no way to remove them. It’s because they live the work every day. They are simply doing, not ideating.
Tapping an innovation consultant to study and analyze your processes will bring insights others can’t see. Plus, their viewpoint is objective and not influenced by pre- or misconceptions.
Redefining the Organization’s Vision
An organization's vision can evolve but become murky when it’s not explicitly defined. Furthermore, there could be competing visions among stakeholders. Innovation consultants can help get everyone on the same page. A consultant can do this by spending time with different groups and departments and learning what makes the company unique.
A vision shouldn’t be some countless, vague theory or aspiration. A concrete plan should outline the company's direction and how to get there.
Offering Opportunities to Conduct Business in New Ways
Consultants and their fresh perspectives offer ideas around new ways to conduct business. These may include new sales channels, diversifying products, or other revenue stream opportunities. The most successful businesses do this with precision.
Uber isn’t just a rideshare company. They now deliver food and even have a program called Uber Freight. Likewise, Samsung isn’t just a tech and electronics company. They are a big player in life insurance in Korea. They also build ships and contribute to the healthcare industry.
Some businesses will have apprehension about new or unknown opportunities. An innovation consultant can assist with developing an execution plan to test new waters.
Crafting New Growth Strategies
Building upon the opportunities, innovation consultants are masters at developing new growth strategies. These will align with the company’s vision. Strategies provide organizations with a blueprint of how to seize opportunities and create a pipeline of new revenue. They can help you size up a market and identify gaps that will resonate with the audience of buyers.
Upskilling Your Team
Another way innovation consultants deliver value to clients is by developing their teams. Employees are any company’s most valuable resource. They just may need support, which often occurs due to a skills gap. Consultants can identify what roles need new training, which, in turn, can generate more innovation.
One example is companies that want to implement agile software development. Agile transformation relies on a set of principles from the Agile Manifesto. It’s a shift from waterfall approaches, embracing flexibility, collaboration, and transparency to iterate faster and better.
Staff may know about agile in theory but need additional support to make this transition. An innovation consultant can create a plan to upskill teams, removing the roadblocks to transformation.
Capabilities of an Innovation Consultant - The Benefits
Innovation consultants can provide substantial value to your business, as documented by what they do. The role they can play serves up a host of benefits as well, including:
Improving product development by analyzing opportunities, creating more effective processes, and ensuring marketability.
- Saving time by enhancing productivity
- Reducing costs by removing barriers, enhancing workflows, and being strategic in all growth initiatives
- Tracking trends by tapping into their expertise and having a deep understanding of the industry
- Implementing new technology and processes that expose employees to better ways to complete tasks
- Making connections to other experts can accelerate growth strategies.
In all these benefits, one constant advantage businesses can expect from innovation consultants— is learning. Through every step of the process, your organization will learn. They’ll learn more about your business model, the market, trends, ideas, and innovation. If your company wants to foster a learning culture, an innovation consultant can assist you with hitting this goal.
How Does an Innovation Consultant Protect Innovation?
One of the most critical responsibilities of an innovation consultant is to protect innovation. The consultant doesn't only dissect the growth blockers of your company but also safeguards your organization with innovative strategy consulting.
There are two types of protection:
- First, legal protection, including patents and trademarks, protects intellectual property (IP). Innovation consultants usually have some IP experience and can offer guidance on this.
- Second, there’s the act of protecting innovation from noise, fears, and objections. Innovation consultants can filter out and respond to negativity about change and evolution. There will always be detractors because no one “likes” change. However, without it, no business can harness innovation.
When Should Organizations Seek Innovation Consultants?
There are many reasons to hire an innovation consultant. If your organization invests in this expertise, it must be ready for what comes next. In an ideal world, certain events can trigger the need.
Here is the list of situations when you might have a dire need to hire innovation consultants for your business:
New Competitors Are Emerging
If your organization has long held market share and is seeing encroachment, it’s an excellent time to boost innovation. In most scenarios, the incumbent has been around for some time, and there’s a chance complacency is occurring. Competitors may be seizing on this, so it’s time to kickstart your innovation engine.
R&D Is the Only Source of Innovation
Many businesses believe their R&D is a hub of innovation. While they can provide prototyping and usability studies, these teams often live in silos. They may have use cases to validate new developments but operate without context. They don’t understand user needs, business objectives, or market variables.
Innovation consultants can complement research and development to create opportunities for other innovators in the company.
Internal Innovation Initiatives Are Failing
If a company rallies its innovators to do just that and then doesn’t deliver, it’s a failure. It doesn’t mean the employees aren’t bright and full of ideas. They might be unable to translate those into revenue.
Ideas aren’t complex; executing them is. Sustaining them is even more challenging.
Many excellent ideas crash and burn because of execution problems. Does anyone remember TiVo? It was one of the first DVRs (digital video recorders). They failed to protect their innovation and market it successfully. Now everyone uses DVRs, not TiVo.
Further, many billion- and trillion-dollar companies have not been able to make returns on innovations. Think of Google Glass, Microsoft SPOT watches, and Nike’s FuelBand, to name a few.
Your company's innovations may be much smaller in scale than these examples, but they are still prime examples of innovation failures. If your team is stalling here, get outside help.
Solutions Need to Evolve
A company’s solutions only solve current problems and may become incompatible in the future. Problems can change, sometimes rapidly. When such issues happen, brands need to evolve. For example, companies often spot opportunities based on how customers use their product that synergizes with their current product suite. This triggers the need to create something new for the same audience.
A relevant case study that illustrates this is Amdocs, a well-known software company that serves telecom. Looking at customers' shifting priorities and objectives, the company identified e-learning as a new line of business. E-learning wasn’t new, but it was new to them. The organization successfully innovated and deployed the solution with a comprehensive product strategy.
Is Your Business Innovation-Friendly?
We are living in the 21st century and this question should be our top priority. No organization can survive and achieve long-term growth without innovation. All you need to do is strategize, implement and optimize your business model. Icreon brings you an all-in-one service to address all your business innovation needs. We possess over years of experience helping clients with new innovations and redirecting their paths of digital success. Explore Icreon's Business Model Innovation Services.