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March 27, 2023

Understanding Innovation as a Large, Well-Established Enterprise

Understanding Innovation as a Large, Well-Established Enterprise

Tim Sherwood

Global Vice-President of Avaya Product & Offer Management

Innovation is crucial to the continuing success of any business, especially well-established enterprises. New products and ideas are tested every day, just as new opportunities are ignored. Blockbuster thought going digital would be too expensive. Blackberry failed to adapt to the changing smartphone market. Toys R Us sued Amazon versus using them to build an eCommerce presence. To paraphrase Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer, “Innovation is the only way to keep customers happy and competitors at bay.” 

Here are five questions for well-established enterprises navigating innovation:      

What is innovation? 

Innovation is about making changes to something established, specifically by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.  

Noteworthy companies like Airbnb, Uber, and Apple innovated through major technology breakthroughs, but innovation doesn’t have to be a completely new business model. It can be as simple as an upgrade to your customer service or new features added to a product. Leading organizations ensure continual innovation by creating roadmaps that document when new products or features will be rolled out to the public (ex: on a quarterly or yearly basis). 

At Avaya, we’re constantly thinking of ways to innovate our cloud communication products based on what customers want and need, from new ways to connect to global expansion capabilities to AI-powered features. Above all, innovation should be about responding to customer needs.  

What does innovation mean to you?      

Are you familiar with the term “Innovation theatre?” It’s used to describe an initiative done to merely signal that innovation is happening (in reality, it has no significant business impact). This display is unfortunately all too common. Under this umbrella of “innovation theatre” are activities that promote the idea of innovation but don’t lead to actual innovation within the organization (think hackathons and classes).  

A 2021 analysis from McKinsey found that the world’s 50 most innovative public companies hold innovation as a central value three times more often than other companies. Some describe innovation as a “moral responsibility.” Is innovation foundational to your enterprise like core business functions such as sales, marketing, and IT, or is it a performative act?  

What are you afraid of? 

Innovation is about more than ideation. You need to implement to create new value. Gears need to shift, processes need to be reformed, and budget needs to be allocated. It can be scary. Research shows four fears hold back corporate innovation more than others:  

  1. Fear of failure: No innovation initiative has guaranteed success. Are you still willing to act? 

  1. Fear of criticism: Criticism provides clarity and necessary redirection, but it can also hinder innovation if not properly applied.  

  1. Fear of uncertainty: Business leaders need a certain amount of tolerance toward unpredictability (as evidenced by the recent global health crisis). Remember that there are ways to safely experiment with new products, and most experiments can be reversed.  

  2. Fear of negative impact on one’s career: It’s easy for loss aversion to take the wheel when we’re considering the risk of doing something new.  

Innovation can be intimidating, but it’s ultimately a positive pursuit.  

What do you want to innovate? 

Enterprise innovation comes in many forms, from product innovation to CX innovation to process innovation. If you’re not sure where to start, consider these findings from Deloitte

  • 40% of enterprises kick off their innovation process by looking internally for opportunities to optimize existing business operations. Another 25% do so by scanning the marketplace for new technologies and ideas. 

  • Higher-growth companies spend less time looking inward and more time responding to customer needs. As a result, they are quicker to uncover customer and stakeholder issues. 

Are you ready to innovate? 

A 2021 study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group found that only 20% of enterprises are fully ready to deliver the innovation they see as being critical to their success. Are you ready to prove impact in your day-to-day actions? We’ll be posting a blog soon on how well-established enterprises can start walking the walk with innovation. In the meantime, read about some customers who are innovating with Avaya solutions here

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