Whitcomb L. Jackson, an American mechanical engineer, made something that was originally called a clasp-locker. With further development, the clasp-locker was developed to become the common zipper that we all know today. By using a zipper, we can easily open and close bags, trousers, shirts etc, and our lives are made that much easier. However, the zipper would not exist without serious innovation – and this is true for many of the complicated and sophisticated pieces of technology we find in our daily lives, driven by the very human desire to solve problems and make things better.
“Innovation is seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought”.Albert Szent-Györgyi, Hungarian Biochemist, 1937 Nobel Prize Awardee in Physiology or Medicine
Innovation is intrinsic in the human condition and can be found in all parts of life. The changes in environment, social structures and technology have continually pushed humans to keep innovating and striving for a better way. As humans, our brains offer us incredible potential to see alternatives in all areas of our life, encouraging us to innovate, survive and thrive in our ever-changing, highly competitive world. For businesses, without innovation, they simply will not stand the test of time and will instead fall far behind their competitors as technology and trends shift and change. We’ve seen many businesses, once considered to be world leaders in their field, fall far behind their competitors because they refused to, or we unable to, innovate. By seeing and understanding the current market, technology and trends, any organization should be encouraged to apply new processes, procedures, methods, products, and services to create innovation in their business.
With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting millions of people around the globe, companies need to adapt, change and innovate to survive, and hopefully see that the current pandemic is an opportunity to grow and evolve their business. We see banking and finance institutions are reducing services that involve face-to-face and physical interactions with their customers, while innovating and enhancing their mobile application capabilities so they can support broader and more personalized online banking and financial services. This could result in more sophisticated and advanced mobile applications, which may be far superior to that of their competitors, giving them a distinct advantage in the cluttered marketplace. One door is indeed closed, but instead, other doors are opened.
One of the most important challenges of applying innovation in an organization is within company leadership. Leaders really should have a broader, better, and clearer view of the organization's goals than their staff, allowing them to initiate innovation, set the direction and encourage change across all stakeholders. Leaders generally have capabilities that allow them to shape the organization’s culture to encourage innovation and new ideas. A strong leader is required - without any doubt - to apply innovation to all parts of a company to continue their operations, to compete in the market and to achieve the organization’s goals.
In most cases, innovation is not easy. In many situations, roadblocks occur that hamper adoption and innovation, such as:
- Lack of bandwidth - Often companies are too busy producing and selling their existing products or services, leaving limited resources to initiate and to develop innovation, which can have a serious impact on the sustainability of the company overall.
- Fear of change - The argument “we have always done it this way” is a common roadblock for innovation. A stagnation of your team or company, leaving your employees stuck firmly in the ‘comfort zone’, can really hold your organization back.
- Additional cost - In most cases, an organization does not dedicate sufficient budget for innovation. Companies tend to allocate the budget to areas that offer a quick return on investment, which innovation may or may not do.
- Lack of technical expertise - To innovate, having technical expertise is a must. Many organizations are hesitant to innovate, as they think they do not have sufficient knowledge and experience to work on these new areas or new technologies.
- Too risky - Innovation may mean more risk for an organization. Without proper planning, calculation and execution, there is strong possibility that innovation may be a costly exercise, rather than one that generates more revenue or new opportunities.
When you consider those roadblocks and once you understand how important innovation is, there is a clear path to encourage innovation within your organization, while alleviating roadblocks – and that is by working with capable outsourcing providers to support the company in key innovation areas. By engaging other parties that are specialized and have strong expertise, companies have access to a team that will help and support innovation initiatives within the organization.
The benefits of outsourcing your innovation are many, including:
- Focussing on areas of expertise - Organizations can instead focus on their core business activities and let outsourced providers focus on key innovation initiatives without hiring more employees, allowing them to focus on their tasks and area of expertise, offering greater efficiencies and stronger results.
- Fresh eyes and ideas - Engaging third-party providers mean inviting fresh eyes and ideas into the organization. Injecting people from outside of the organization who have different experience and exposure will bring new ideas, different ways of thinking and new perspectives, which can lead an organization towards innovation.
- Lower labor costs - When outsourcing, companies can lower the cost of labour on key activities, like software development, because the company does not need to carry the cost of additional employees, including wages, taxes and training, as this is completely handled by the third-party provider.
- Sufficient technical skills and exposure - Typically, third-party providers have the right technical skills and specialization in key areas, allowing them to be true experts. They tend to follow the current trends, continually innovate within their field, are up to date with the latest technologies and equipped with advanced skills. They then share this in-depth knowledge with companies, showing them how to innovate within their own industries or market space, without the need to develop that in-depth expertise themselves.
- Risk-sharing - By engaging with external providers, the risk of innovation on the organization is shared and lessened. Outsourced providers offer expertise in their field and an existing investment in equipment, staff and skills, which removes this risk from the company. Because they are experts in a key area, the risk is not great to the third-party provider, allowing a company experimenting with innovation to have access to these elements, without shouldering the responsibility themselves.
Over the past 20 years, software development has become a key area to support innovation within an organization. This often allows the organization to provide better products and services to their customers, and increase their profit. However, technology is ever-changing, at a faster and faster pace, meaning innovation plays an even more crucial role. By engaging the right outsourcing providers for your organization for software development, you ensure that you position your company for a future in the changing digital landscape. With advanced technical skillsets and updated technologies, your outsourcing providers should become an important partner for your organization to continue innovating and maintain pace with the latest trends and stay one step ahead of your competition.
Innovation is a never-ending journey that encourages companies to see and take advantage of opportunities and evolve the way they do business. Without room for innovation and improvement, companies stagnate and are pushed out of their market. To avoid this, we – as a person, team, organization, and society – have to keep innovating to invent and improve all areas of life, to make living better. We as humans are equipped with the brain, knowledge, experience, and ability to adapt to life's challenges, and to see new ways of doing things better, faster and stronger. Innovation is indeed inevitable.
Edwind Arhandhika - Engagement Manager