IT Innovation – a buzzword that has caused quite a frenzy among companies of all sizes and levels of experience in the last few years, is a subject of controversy among specialists, who have expressed various opinions on the matter. In the current business landscape, those who have yet to embark on the innovation train in IT, have struggled to keep up with more open-to-change competitors, who have not been afraid to adopt new strategies and techniques and integrate innovative technologies and tools. Businesses that are reluctant to innovate however, do have their reasons, as this is no easy process, and requires tremendous effort and a willingness to transform at both internal processes and mindset levels.
But before we identify and elaborate on some of the difficulties and challenges that innovation brings along, let’s first take a look at the types of innovation that companies can choose from.
This type of innovation occurs when companies decide to upgrade their existing offering, by making use of available technologies. Integrating them allows businesses to improve their products and services, add new features to them and make various enhancements, which are designed to attract new clients and secure pre-established relationships with regular clientele.
The architectural innovation, also known as adjacent innovation, enables companies to enter new markets, while using the technologies and knowledge that they already possess. In this sense, businesses bring changes to the architecture of an existing product, thus creating a new one, that appeals to a different audience than that targeted before.
We must also draw attention to the disruptive innovation, that, as its name suggests, implies the adoption of new technologies and innovative business models, that have the ability to disrupt industries. Companies turning to disruptive innovation have the opportunity to offer unique services and products to their clients, therefore gaining a competitive advantage, a most sought-after benefit in this dynamic business landscape.
Another type of innovation is that surrounding the development of completely new products and services, by means of innovative, never-before-seen technologies. Radical innovation assists companies in opening up new markets and helps them transform their clients’ daily lifestyle.
Now that we have gained a glimpse of the types of innovation out there, let’s dive into the obstacles that companies have had to face when seeking to innovate.
So, why do businesses find it difficult to innovate?
Because they fear change – this is one of the main reasons for which most companies are in doubt when considering to innovate. To a certain degree, a fear of the unknown is, of course, understandable, yet the benefits that one might reap when innovating their products and services, are not to be neglected. Large companies are also discouraged by the financial risks that innovation comes bundled with, or the reputational damage that they may suffer, in case their innovative ideas fail to come to life.
Another obstacle to innovation is that revolving around the lack of skills requiredto make this complex process a reality.In this regard, companies have found it challenging to identify specialists who not only have the technical skills that they are looking for, but also the creativity, empathy, and original thinking, necessary to help them advance. What’s more, businesses have had issues finding a balance between the freedom that they offer their innovators and the control that they need to retain over processes.
Last, but not least, we must mention the cultural conflicts that innovation may give rise to, as transforming employees’ beliefs and mind-set, so that they are open to change, is a delicate task. Fostering innovation in the workplace and encouraging employees to express their doubts on one hand, and taking time to explain to them what and how transformations will be taking place on the other, are a few suggestions that companies might want to consider, when aiming to successfully innovate.
Companies have had a tough time trying to find the innovative solution that best fits their needs, and even more trouble implementing these changes. The risks surrounding financial loss and reputational damage, along with the fear of the unknown and of cultural challenges, are some of the obstacles that make businesses think twice about innovating. These barriers however can be overcome, if businesses properly prepare for them and take the appropriate measures to gracefully manage such troubles.