What will drive business success in 2017? In short, innovation will continue to reward the companies that know how to execute on it swiftly. And according to analysts at Gartner, we’ve only begun to feel the effects of innovation – soon the ripple effects of digital change will begin to infiltrate and further disrupt business as we know it.
In fact, Gartner’s recently released predictions for 2017 highlight just how deep digital innovation will impact the way we do things. Some of the major trends suspected to emerge in the new year include, immersive and augmented reality customer experiences, the decline of apps and the rise of app-like websites, and the expansion of blockchain into other areas.
And while savvy business leaders clamor to develop ideas to jump on these trends and shake up their industries, there’s one thing at the root of it all that can make or break even the best innovation: the customer experience. In today’s highly commoditized, and fast-paced marketplace, customers expect a great experience, and rightly so. And the brands that have discovered how to use innovation to build a better experience are the ones posing a threat to the industry Goliaths.
With this in mind, what are the three keys to business and innovation success in the new year?
Know thy customer
Who do you serve and why should they care about your innovative product? Does it make their lives easier in some way or alleviate a major or small, annoying burden? Or maybe it makes an otherwise ordinary process extraordinary.
The only way to know what will be extraordinary in their minds is to talk to them. Before you invest in the development of your digital disrupter, find your audience and get to know them intimately. This can be done through face-to-face meetings, surveys and polls, LinkedIn or Facebook groups, phone interviews, or even conversations at industry conferences.
Whichever method you choose for getting to know your customer, be sure you are asking the right questions to get to the root of the problem you are solving for. There are also numerous ways to go about this. One is to start with “What are you trying to get done?” followed by the five why’s.
It’s a method for gradually digging deeper and deeper until you get to the root cause. Generally by the fourth or fifth why, you’ll uncover the use case for why they do what they do. Can you eliminate some of those why’s along the way so they can achieve their end result faster?
Build the brand alongside the product
In the past, the product or company brand has been an afterthought –something that came only when it was time to think about marketing. But today, it’s the product and the brand that create the customer experience. So I invite you to consider these two things cannot be decoupled -they must be built alongside one another.
Brand is far more than a design asset. It represents all the moments and interactions along the customer’s journey, and the emotions and perceptions in the customer’s (and potential customer’s) mind. It’s also representative of your purpose and commitment.
Thus, brand should be foundational to a business strategy, impacting how and what you innovate, how you take it to market, who you market it to, and how you engage customers in it. With customer experience an essential component to successful business innovation, branding must become an innate part of the strategy.
Prototype and test your solution
Prototyping and testing is not just for product development, it’s critical to all aspects of business from user experience to branding, business and pricing models, and even customer acquisition. Getting customers involved early and often is key.
Doing so enables innovation to be built based on relationships with customers, which saves time and money – and ultimately helps ensure you disrupt an industry or process worth disrupting. By integrating customers into the process early, you will better be able to prioritize key features or functions, eliminate those they don’t really care about, build an experience that will keep them coming back, and create a stronger brand.
Make conversing with customers part of your protocol to hone your innovation efforts. You might uncover new areas ripe for disruption you may have previously overlooked.
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Published at Fri, 30 Dec 2016 21:05:00 +0000