"The end is near when the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside" - Attributed to Jack Welch, encapsulates the mantra for innovation in business.
The past few years are smashing traditional mindsets. We're witnessing things that we couldn't have imagined, and the shock value for virtually any event has drastically reduced. We're seeing shifts in consumer behavior and demands, moving at a rapid pace. Expectations from products and services have never been so high. Therefore, innovation in business in every possible domain has taken a new leap.
Companies like Tesla see themselves not as just car manufacturers but as creators of upgradable smart mobiles. Their Unique Selling Proposition is not just being electric but being 'different.' This 'difference' might not be defined by superlatives like speed, power, and style but in terms of personalization, customization, and uniqueness. Other brands, such as the 'ON' brand of shoes, market their product similar to a new tech product. These brands do not slot their products in a specific category. Instead, they are adapting faster to the ever-changing consumer experience journey than their competing brands. This quick adaptation and a focus on business reinvention are what sets them apart, often leading them to achieve cult status.
The economy has taken a hit over the last few years, affecting people's purchasing power. As a result, plans have been rescheduled, investments have halted, and liquid cash has become the need of the hour. We can all witness the impact on industries like Auto, Real Estate, Luxury brands, and other high-value items. But there is a silver lining here – an opportunity for innovation in business that will meet the demands for more exclusive, personalized, and customized products when this phase is over.
Global events and crises command the power to create sudden shifts in product demands and the introduction of new categories in a very short span. For instance, the sales of Dishwashers rose exponentially in China during outbreaks of diseases like the swine flu. Today, we see the same trend in India. This observation gives us a hint about the future of business, which will likely be shaped by the changing needs and demands of consumers.
Most manufacturers today react to such situations in a mildly tactical way. For instance, the automotive industry attempted to create virtual showrooms overnight. However, these reactions often fail to adequately address consumer needs. These half-baked solutions satisfy marketing dynamics and PR points but do not distinguish the brand in any meaningful way.
Radical solutions are often the most difficult to adapt to existing systems and processes, especially in times of budget cuts. However, these are the solutions that make a difference and point to the future of business. These actions shift the narrative.
The term 'Innovation' is one of the most abused words by corporates. True innovation breeds in an environment where different or no rules and learning from failures are key. But not everyone needs to be innovative; it's a choice. The problem arises when you push for innovation without compromising on your set processes and rules. This creates tremendous pressure within the system, and by the time you implement your innovation, it becomes a norm.
In a world where everyone and everything has enough buyers and sellers, you need to decide if you want to follow the norms, offer discounts, stay in a line and be a profitable mediocre or break the rules, accept failures, run in a zig-zag, and strike gold. Demanding the best of both worlds without creating internal chaos is like jogging downhill.