Many people and companies get a bit uncomfortable with the ideas of management consultants and other business development consultancies. It’s understandable. I mean, most consultants produce reports, not actual solutions. That may have been a great thing in the last millennium, but in the current age, we don’t need just analysis and potential scenarios. We need actual business solutions. My personal interest has always been to see things that could be improved, and try to come up with creative ideas that actually solve that. Never to create something that goes into a bookshelf, or lays around on a hard drive somewhere. There are some easy steps to be more innovative, and more customer-centric.
Identify the problem
Focusing on problems is an amazing catalyst for solving those problems. Every business should embrace their customer’s problems, analyse them and understand how to solve those problems. People face these problems every day, and any business that has it’s prime purpose to solve problems real people may have in their lives or at work, will find that they will make more money, create stronger connections with the customers, and be more trusted. Every manager, every employee should always walk around trying to identify problems. The other (and rather complimentary way), is to listen to people’s plights, adds what they are facing every day. Done’t expect people to come up with solutions, just let them tell you about their challenges. This can be done in focus groups and surveys, but simply asking people you meet is just as efficient. Observe how people reveal their problems, and ask them what it would mean to them if that problem was solved, either through technology or through human centric solutions.
Create solutions, not reports
Businesses in 2017 and beyond need to understand how to utilise technology or cultural shifts to solve the problems people have. Even the problems people don’t know they have. No one knew they really needed a watch that send them notifications, measures their heart rate, keeps them moving, and allows them to pay by just by tapping a button and flicking their wrist against a pay terminal. Yet Apple’s wearables division would be a Fortune 400 company on its own if it was separated from Apple Inc. Finding problems close to home for consumers and business decision-makers and solving them will create revenue streams that no one knew existed six months ago. By looking at problems and potential problems, we can find solutions that makes life easier for regular folks, and that’s worth a lot more than some stupid desktop report that no one reads, or at least never does anything about.
Forget advertising, start creating real life connections
Branding is no longer an advertising question. it’s simply about creating the best real-life experiences for the customers. If going into a Samsung store makes you feel like you are seeing the future of electronics, you won’t care that their advertising is lacklustre. in fact, you probably won’t even notice their ads. It doesn’t matter. Advertising has become a game of trying to disrupt (i.e. disturb) the consumer as much as possible.
Build it, and they will come
Yeah, I know I’ve probably said the opposite in the past, but we know now that valuable services are the ones people use, not the ones they only talk about. So, the most important thing needs to be to create useful services and products. That’s how business got their start in the beginning. They saw a problem, solved it, and charged for it. These days, innovation seem to focus on protecting current revenue streams, rather than creating new ones.
Most importantly, get input from as broad a base as possible. Many companies have gotten all the way through to product or service launch before they realise that there is no need, or that the product/service is inferior or hard to use. Use the 6 pillars of innovation to cement the right strategy, and the right solution development.
Erik Ingvoldstad is the Founder & CEO of Acoustic.
Follow Erik on Twitter @ingvoldSTAR, follow Acoustic at @AcousticGroupSG
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