Staying Ahead of the Innovation Curve

Innovation isn’t a stop and start process. It is a continuous cycle that is equal parts community involvement, personal ingenuity and enthusiasm. Organizations don’t innovate in a vacuum. They require feedback and a clear understanding of what problems need solving.

Apple Computer is frequently used as an example of a company that mastered the art of innovation. They released their products slightly ahead of obvious consumer demand, although once the product was released it quickly became indispensable. They capitalized on the market and beat out competitors by incorporating exceptional design and a dedication to quality. However, the underlying success of Apple is the fact that it was always able to anticipate what consumers would want slightly before the consumers themselves realized it.

Social media has come to play an increasingly large role in influencing innovation. In the past, companies had to perform hours of market research on small groups in physical rooms. Now, social media allows companies to quickly sample the public’s perception of a particular product or service without leaving their HQ. From Twitter to Facebook to YouTube, the public conversation is easily viewable and can be quickly condensed using customized social media monitoring software.

To stay on top of innovation, organizations must not be afraid to actively involve their target audience in leading discussions. They must also be prepared to venture into unknown territory. A company or organization that plays it exactly by the book isn’t being innovative; they’re being conformist. Innovation relies on a certain element of risk-taking and gumption. Organizations should first make a list of the specific problems they wish to solve. By being very specific, solutions will soon present themselves.

Indirect answers or guidelines can also be found through social media. The target audience may have certain ideas about a particular service or product. In the public sector, for example, a proposed public transportation route may not be the most efficient in meeting the needs of the populace. A more efficient route can be determined through online polling or even forums in a matter of hours. Social media provides a highly adaptable and efficient method of beating out competitors and providing people with what they need.

Christopher Smith. Canadian. CEO of We provide enterprise content management solutions for governments around the world.

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