For the rest of the January 2010 issue of CRM magazine please click here.
After the economy hit the skids in the fourth quarter of 2008, many top-level executives regrouped and communicated to the rank and file and to the public the need for innovation. It’s true that innovation is one of the driving forces behind success and will likely be the reason many companies stay afloat. But, as we enter a new decade, it’s not enough to simply say, “We need to innovate.” Organizations must position themselves in a way that promotes innovation, which is why we focus on the topic this month.
First, it’s vital to understand where innovation comes from. It’s often an attempt to answer a variety of questions: How do we do more of what we’re doing? How do we make it better? How do we lower costs? How do we make people more comfortable, more productive, even happier? Anyone who can answer any of these questions can be an innovator. The people who bother giving these questions some thought tend to be passionate about a given company, product, or service, so they’ll invest a fair amount of time to drive improvement. To find out where to locate these innovators, read our feature story, “Where Does Innovation Come From?” , by Assistant Editor Lauren McKay.
Organizations may expect to see innovation out of their product development teams and throughout the enterprise, but one of the best places to find innovative ideas is from customers, according to the feature. After all, these are the people expected to pay good money for a company’s products or services, so it makes sense that the company should ask them what they want. It’s not that organizations haven’t invested in customer feedback before. Many have—through surveys and focus groups—but they haven’t always been able to listen to or act on it. Either they didn’t have the processes in place to collect the right information, or they didn’t have the ability to act on the great customer feedback they collected.
Over the long term, this is worse than ignoring customers, because the company wastes time and money collecting feedback and raising customer expectations. A customer led to believe a company is listening is sure to be disappointed when she finds out it’s not.
Now that social media enables customers to easily and quickly vocalize their gripes or suggestions, companies are forced to listen and act. Because of this, social media will likely become one of the best innovations for innovation’s sake.
There are some other innovative technologies that could reshape the nature of business. We offer a few that are developing in 2010 in the “5 for ’10” feature by Assistant Editor Christopher Musico. This story includes some fun technologies with a lot of business potential, such as surface computing—also featured in the case study, “Scratching the Surface,”—and augmented reality (AR). After using AR, one source in the story says, “I feel like I’m on Star Trek.”
For a look at a broader set of innovative technologies, such as social media, information integration, geolocation, e-commerce, audio/video, and hidden innovation, turn to our special report, “The Innovation Issue.”
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