An innovation hub helps a company scale and remain competitive in the industry. It cultivates the right environment for growth. Learn how you can build an innovation hub for your startup and come up with a great innovation strategy.
In today’s technology-driven world, businesses have to be on top of their game with the latest tech trends. The U.S. is already spending over 1 trillion dollars on technology products, services, and staff in 2021.
And this number is projected to grow in the next year. Clearly, the future of most businesses will involve a certain degree of digitalization and technological solutions. Whether it’s improving customer acquisition or finding ways to cut down costs, a startup must consistently come up with ways to improve itself.
Let’s first understand the role of innovation in business development. Generally, what is it? Webster defines innovation as the “introduction of something new.” In business, this would refer to creating or improving a product, a systematic process, or a new idea. The meaning also encompasses the whole concept of entrepreneurship, pursuing opportunities beyond the current norms.
The Importance of Innovation
It’s the survival of the fittest businesses in a volatile industry. You can’t remain stagnant as the world is fast evolving. For a startup to succeed, it has to adapt to the rapidly changing times and economic situations.
But the question is, how does a business innovate?
We can take inspiration from the story of 7-Eleven. It started as an ice company that mainly sold block ice to households for food preservation. But when refrigerators became popular, they pivoted by expanding their line of products.
First, they sold food and drinks. Then, they gradually added beer and liquor to the menu. And as a nice touch, they extended their operating hours to a much longer one.
From an icehouse in the 1920s that simply sold block ice, it is now one of the largest retail stores in North America and Asia today. Their secret? They never stopped innovating. They’ve created signature products like the famous iced drinks Slurpee and Big Gulp.
They changed from a delivery service to a storefront. And they even pioneered the idea of a 24-hour convenient store. Not only did they pivot around turbulent times, but they’ve also evolved and established a solid brand.
You don’t hear these kinds of success stories very often. The risk of business failure is always there. But with a solid innovation strategy, you may just beat the odds and come out strong.
How to Innovate
The goal of innovation is to improve productivity, reduce costs, add value to your brand, expand your network, and finally, increase profitability.
These are some of the items you can innovate in your company.
1. Business Processes
Do away with outdated processes. You have to improve or replace inefficient parts of your operations that are costing you time and money. For example, you can automate specific processes by purchasing a new software.
This kind of investment will increase productivity, lessen human error, and reduce the workload of your staff. Likewise, if you have certain processes that have been consistently effective, you must maximize or expand them.
2. Product and Services
As the old saying goes, the only constant in life is change. Your patrons’ demands and preferences are bound to change. They will gravitate to what is trendy and fashionable. And they will expect your products and services to keep up with it.
Innovating your products doesn’t necessarily mean something drastic, it could be as simple as changing your color scheme or design. The fun part, you can even derive from your original products and present an upgraded version of them.
Just like all the other things in the industry, marketing has evolved. Businesses, small and large alike, are changing the way they’re promoting their products. And if you want to keep up with your competitors, you have to be on the same marketing platforms.
You have to create a set of digital marketing strategies to better reach your customers and advertise to new demographics.
4. Organizational Structure
Along with upgrading your operations, you may also want to change up your company structure. Think of what can make your operations more efficient. Should you hire more managers? Or perhaps assemble a whole new team for a certain project? It’s a matter of understanding what your staff and your business needs.
Keep in mind that innovation doesn’t have to be a major breakthrough. It can come in the form of incremental changes. Innovation is a creative process that invites ideas from everyone. This is why an innovation hub comes in handy.
What is an Innovation Hub?
Although there isn’t an exact definition of what an innovation hub is, it has a common concept. Innovation hubs are considered as a space for like-minded individuals who share the same interest and expertise.
The idea is to foster a community that can churn out its ideas through constant collaboration. It can also apply to an independent organization that primarily does research.
In a company setting, you can consider it as the research center of your organization. One example would be IBM Research and their Industry Solutions Labs (ISL). These are regarded as forums where people can have direct access to scientists and tech experts.
Their goal is to stimulate insightful debates and discussions on challenging problems. Additionally, the concepts created in these discussions lead to product development.
Other than IBM, there are a lot of innovation labs that made an impact on society. Some examples of the products that successfully came out of innovation labs are Amazon Alexa, Unix OS, Watson (AI from IBM), Amazon Kindle, Ethernet, the IBM smartphone, and solar panel’s photovoltaic cells.
Now that we’ve got a better idea of what innovation hubs are, how do you apply this to your business?
How to Build an Innovation Hub
It should be made clear first: innovation hubs are not always necessary for a business. It will depend on the type of industry you’re serving in. It’s most ideal for technology-centered startups, given how fast that industry changes. However, you can still create a small group of innovators in the company.
Here are steps to creating your innovation hub:
1. Define your innovation strategy
Creating an innovation strategy will keep into account the possibilities of the future and help you determine where to focus first. Things like economic disruptions, market trends, and consumer behavior can drastically affect your business. Hence, innovating based on these factors will give you a clearer direction.
2. Buy the necessary resources
Purchase tools, software, and programs needed for your projects. Your team has to have a say in this matter. They can prevent you from splurging on unnecessary things and buy reliable brands instead.
3. Provide solutions to complex problems
Lastly, when it comes to building your innovation hub, you have to focus on what matters. Commit your resources to two types of innovation when establishing an innovation hub: sustaining innovation and disruptive innovation.
Build your Innovation Hub with Full Scale
Coming up with innovative ideas is a challenge for all businesses. Not only do you have to squeeze out your creative juices, but you also have to consider the practical and technical side of everything. You need experts who can help you brainstorm creative and profitable ideas. It starts with hiring the right team.
Full Scale is a software development company that focuses on helping entrepreneurs scale their businesses. We have seasoned experts that can help you innovate your company. We’ll assist you at each level of the process, including recruitment, project management, product development, and marketing.
Want to learn more? Contact us today!