12 Innovation Concepts That Will Dominate the Recovery

When the Recovery starts, certain companies will grow faster and these companies will look dramatically different from what we’ve seen the past ten years. I have just returned from a landmark event called The InfoComm 100. This was a three-day networking think tank of leaders and visionaries from all over the AV Industry and around the world. I will write more about it in future blogs and articles, but let me just say that my brain is full of ideas and concepts generated by this experience. Rich Karlgaard, Publisher of Forbes Magazine provided us with an eloquent keynote in which he predicts that the recession will end this quarter (Q2, 2009). While he makes a compelling case, the real takeaway of his talk was a list of attributes of the companies that will do well in the recovery. Here is his list of the 12 Innovations and my thoughts on what they mean for us.

DESIGN
People, humans are wired for great aesthetics and companies that can satisfy or feed that need will produce more compelling products. Elegant design (Apple Computer) in both form and function (and packaging) will be a huge differentiator. Consider that everything you do directly or indirectly touches your customer. Will successful companies have Chief Design Officers? Perhaps, but at the very least they will have the dialogue about whether that would be the right thing to do.

SPEED of OPERATIONS
Time is money, but more importantly – time is time. We can’t get time back and neither can our customers. In the new economy spawned by this recession, speed will have even greater value than the financial byproduct of efficiency.

ANALYTICS
Companies that understand the marketplace and customers at subtle levels will be able to do more with smaller market shares. But analytics and metrics matter in other areas as well. Having access to real time data and then knowing which data is relevant will be a huge competitive advantage.

SUPPLY CHAIN MASTERY
Yes, this applies to you. Whatever your supply chain involves, it can improved upon. Companies that master the supply chain (Dell Computer) will gain market share and improve their cost basis for ongoing business. Those that stray from that mission (again, Dell Computer) will feel its recoil. (See SPEED of OPERATIONS).

SELF SERVICE
There is a growing segment of society that would prefer to do all they can themselves before involving the supplier. This is why we buy products online instead of visiting a retail store or use a ticket kiosk instead of standing in line at the airport or movie theater. The key is making self-service fun and intuitive.

LOW COST
This goes beyond choices about processes and efficiencies; this is a philosophy (Walmart). Even luxury and service offerings can make low cost (Green, profitable, resourceful) appealing. (See SELF SERVICE).

DISRUPTIVE TECHNOLOGY
Market leaders have a hard time disrupting themselves. Breakaway companies will find ways to reinvent themselves to make room for new ideas. Disruptive Innovation fills a gap that doesn’t exist until that innovation is born (iPod).

TRAINING
The world, society, youth – everyone is learning more and learning differently. Whether you are training your employees or customers – or maybe training is your product – this attribute will a big advantage going forward.

OPEN SOURCE
This goes beyond opening your products to sharing and improvement. Think TALENT. Seek and share ideas and contributions from unconventional people and places.

CUSTOMER FEEDBACK
This ties back to ANALYTICS and SUPPLY CHAIN. How we process and apply customer feedback can set us apart and rive return business.  Customer feedback is a philosophy, not an initiative.

VIRTUAL INNOVATION
A big company does not need to be all under one roof. This does not simply mean branches or glocal (global/local) offices – it even goes beyond telecommuting. Virtual innovation might mean Second Life customer interfaces or marketing initiatives initiated by artificial intelligence.

INNOVATION OF MEANING AND PURPOSE
Trust for institutions is at a low. Companies that exist for a purpose create added value for the customer and every person that works for or with the firm.

Any one of these innovations could propel a company into spotlight. And I think that choosing one of these 12 and trying to find your unique solution could also be a mistake. What is innovative about looking for innovation? Start with this quote from the InfoComm 100 roundtable “The future is based on customers we haven’t met yet.” Now, what would that customer want from a company he/she hasn’t met yet?

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