Strong leadership is key to enterprise innovation.
Enterprise products are a complicated sector of any industry. An enterprise product not only must be all things to all stakeholders, it must also meet exactingly high standards, which can vary widely from industry to industry. Creating an innovation strategy that lets you push your industry forward without leaving clients behind needs several pieces to be effective.
Choose A Starting Point
To start with, there needs to be a “bedrock.” While any enterprise product will have wildly different users, usually your clients buy your product to do one of a small number of things. What is that bedrock concern—the one thing the majority of your clients use your product for, or at least start using it for? Just as importantly, what do your clients want your product to do right now, or in the near future, and what’s happening in your various divisions to deliver that?
Know Your Goals
Another question that needs exploring is where your company wants to go with this innovation. Remember that goals are to be reached for, and you don’t get there in one stride, but a careful consultation of your business strategy will offer some drivers for your innovation strategy.
Select A Leader
Innovation on the enterprise level needs a leader, one person who can marshal the whole process and keep it moving forward. Innovation strategy here needs to be strongly focused and needs a shoulder behind it to keep it moving. This also helps in that if somebody has a “big idea,” they know exactly who to take that idea to, and that person has a responsibility to listen.
Innovation is about more than ideas.
Develop A Focus
Innovation leaders should be gathering ideas with a specific focus. A suggestion box is great for small changes, but on an enterprise level, there simply are no small decisions. Enterprise-level innovation is as much about choosing an overall direction to head in as a goal itself. Often, flexibility and innovation will be needed to figure out certain steps. So rather than a free-for-all, your innovation leader should be looking for specific ideas about the future.
Design A Refinement Process
No idea pops out perfectly formed, and that’s particularly true at the enterprise level. Any idea, no matter how brilliant, will need to be carefully examined by the many different stakeholders to ensure it’s workable, and to address small issues before they become bigger challenges. A balance does need to be struck between care and speed; one struggle in any innovative process is the battle between innovation and “the way we’ve always done things.”
Plan For Execution
The final step, once your innovation has been winnowed, refined, and considered, is to begin executing it. With enterprise innovation, this means far more than just building it. For example, rolling out a feature might need to take a phased approach where some clients help beta test the product, or some simply get it earlier than others because the product will need to be tweaked for some industries. There’s only so much planning you can do, of course, so look to an execution that’s quick, but flexible.
And don’t forget; your company can’t focus on just one innovation. This process should be happening in multiple places where you see opportunity for possible disruption. To learn more about enterprise-level innovation strategy, contact us.