October 15, 2008

Customer focussed Innovation

In a competitive world, companies have been focusing on the innovation or the 'I' factor in every stage of their value chain - product inception, development, marketing, sales and support. In the technology space, organizations and companies have been focusing a lot to infuse innovative thinking into the minds of their employees. But still, we do see a lot of these technology initiatives failing to see the bright daylight!

The key point that some fail to understand and many fail to stick to, is the fact that innovation should be driven by your customer's needs. The "need to innovate" is a stimuli that has to come from the market or your customers. For best results, the process of innovation has to start from the market and end in the market. The terms market and customers can be used interchangeably.

Here is what I use to explain this factor to everyone (including my customers) -
A 'Customer' to me, is like a Holy Cow. Just because I've invented a new shoe that uses the latest of technologies, does not mean that it would make the Holy Cow happy. I need to spend time and understand what this Holy Cow really needs. Technology is always secondary. It's the customer's need that actually drives my innovation

Stay focused and listen to your customers. That is where your future lies!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Check out this customer-focused innovation:

A Light and Sound Saree for Diwali

Unknown said...

Could've have asked for more 'customer-focus'!!

Mr.P.J.Thangavelu has created a wonder by not just creating a customer-focussed innovation, but by also innovating something that puts the customer 'in the focus'!!

Karthik

Anonymous said...

That said, there is whole lot of innovation which is not focusd on the customer - these are innovations that focus on operational excellence. Sure, eventually they will somehow impact a customer - better service, lower cost, faster turn around times - but the focus is more internal than external.

The best known example is how Dell revolutionized the business of manufacturing and selling PCs by pretty much sub-contracting everything. The PCs themselves were no different from those sold by any other vendor but the process of making them and bringing them to market was innovated to reduce costs (and risks) to Dell.

Another example is the recent big innovation called SOA - this is focused on better leveraging existing IT investments by making different software systems collaborate with each other. Customers could't care less if their health insurance claims are processed by a system leveraging SOA or not, but IT departments care a lot.

Unknown said...

Absolutely. Overall, the message is - "Innovation has to be outside in, than inside out". When our customers want a less expensive solution/product, we need to innovate at every level in the value chain - both internal and external to the enterprise.

Dell's strategic decision and the SOA approach to IT/business is apt. Even in the manufacturing industry, Toyota has continuously focused on innovation with its very own and famous principles like Kaizen and Kanban. By innovating their internal processes, they are able to produce a product with the highest quality and performance.

Karthik