Innovation Tip: Ways Companies Can Identify Opportunities for Innovation

By looking at the people intended for the solution, companies can pinpoint areas of opportunity and discover potential areas for innovation.

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Innovation is not easy. 

One of the reasons innovation is difficult is that in many cases the people who are to be the recipients of innovative offerings don’t know that they need them, and can’t even explain to them if they tried. For instance, the iPhone, Airbnb, or Uber, these amazing offerings in the market today couldn’t have been described or imagined by the users who now profoundly enjoy them. 
This difficulty makes it hard for companies to successfully and consistently innovate, that of course, the arduous process involved. Nevertheless, there are ways companies can identify opportunities for innovation. Innovation is defined in many ways, however, the one entity that the general consensus can agree on, is that innovation involves creating something of value for people. People. Herein lies the not-so-secret sauce that inspires innovation for companies everywhere. 
By looking at the people intended for the solution, companies can pinpoint areas of opportunity and discover potential areas for innovation. However, looking at customers’ unfulfilled, undeclared needs or the entire customer chain, as a jumping-off point for innovation is really the basic level. Customers, though very important, offer only a fraction of areas companies can innovate. MIT’s Innovation Radar framework, though published in 2006, still holds true today and highlights many opportunities for innovation. It goes beyond customers to list environments as Distributed presence innovation, think of Starbucks selling CDs and music at their physical stores, or innovation in processes where companies can redesign their core processes, or innovation value capture, where companies get revenue from new streams of revenue, for example, UberEats. These ways of innovation are plotted on the Innovation Radar to highlight areas of innovation and even compare companies with competitors on areas they are innovating versus opportunity areas. 

The Innovation Radar allows companies to benchmark their innovation efforts against competitors

References: MIT’s Sloan Management Review – The 12 Different Ways for Companies to Innovate.