Today’s big bang disrupters run on tech that didn’t exist 20 years ago—a social networking empire hosting 1.65 billion people and a taxi service you can reach without ever picking up the phone. So in a time when it seems like everyone is launching a startup and we’re always on the verge of the “next big thing,” thinking outside the box is more important than ever.
In today’s hyper-connected world, constant innovation is hard to achieve, and although a great IT team can help make it happen, plenty of other businesses are armed with the same technology resources and talent. Big-bang disrupters are bringing down entire industries, causing a mad scramble to compete and escape becoming obsolete. What can your business do to develop disruptive ideas? The need to think outside the box is obvious, but the ways to go about it may not be as clear.
Block the buzz
Don’t get lost in a sea of never-ending buzzwords. It’s important to pay attention to what relevant vendors are saying, but vendors often have a bias or sponsored point of view. Keeping up with the news of your industry is important, but it’s equally, maybe even more important to let your ideas lead you along the right path. Make your decisions based on specific company goals and ideals, not the hype in the vendorsphere.
Unleash the power of IT
The old ways of doing things in IT will no longer cut it. Businesses are searching for employees who can learn the ropes of IT, but more importantly, they want creative and innovative minds. Technical skills can be taught through hands-on training and traditional education, but it’s difficult to teach people to think creatively. Automation is changing the face of legacy IT, freeing workers from daily manual processes and making room for strategic and creative thinking in IT departments. So give them automation and let them innovate.
The beauty of innovation is that it’s a process—not a light bulb you switch on or off. To become a disrupter, your business needs to do what other competitors do more efficiently, creatively, and cost-effectively. For example, the smartphone has created a massive market shift for products like digital cameras, alarm clocks, e-readers, and even, to some extent, laptops. Some of these products will disappear completely—others will evolve. To find new ways to innovate, look at the market trends happening both inside and outside your industry. You might be surprised by the opportunities you find. Who thought an app could take over the taxi industry?
Keep your eyes, and the minds of your best players, on holes that need innovative and ground-breaking updates and solutions. Innovation leadership isn’t about thinking outside the box once per quarter—it’s about doing it every day.
Understand your industry
Knowing what your customers want is key to overcoming their expectations before your competitors do. Creating a version or benchmark of where you see your business in the next five to ten years can help ensure your company’s success in the long term. The success of big disrupters hinges on having easy access to consumer opinion and data that allows a product to be developed closer to the right strategy for the business. You must determine the movement of disrupters in your industry to stay competitive.
Innovating takes adaption. As an innovation leader, you need to set an example of out-of-the-box thinking that will encourage your teams to do the same.