As the heart and soul of economic progress, innovation has long heralded greater growth not only for companies, but for nations and individual careers as well.
The ability to repeat a successful innovation model – the holy grail of new product development – confers upon enterprise organizations an important additional benefit: lasting competitive advantage.
The innovation challenge, though, lies not merely in the elusive nature of creativity. Successful innovation within large companies has been trending consistently downward in the 21st century, and according to the Journal of Product Innovation & Management, up to 49% of innovations now fail. It’s illuminating to discover why.
It should not be surprising to learn that new product innovations in many sectors are found to be mostly uninspiring to both consumers and business customers alike. Anyone who has ever encountered a “new and improved” label can attest to the failure of most innovations to deliver a promised benefit or fulfill a relevant human need. Consumers grow skeptical, even cynical, about whether the term “innovative” retains any meaning.
Likewise, products that may in fact deliver real innovation value, but at the cost of exacting too great a behavioral adjustment on the part of the user, are equally doomed to failure. It seems the quest for better value stops at “heavy lifting.”
New product innovations also fail because they simply take too long to reach the marketplace. This trend is particularly costly to product designers in an atmosphere of rapidly evolving consumer need. Yet as the cycle of this need accelerates, the conventional product-to-market cycle slows. Presently, most new products can take 12-36 months to hit the market, by which time the developed product innovation has lost most of its potential to satisfy customers.
Meeting the Product Development Challenge
Understanding the challenge of bringing innovative new products to market requires clarifying the realities that underlie it.
According to Salesforce, 96% of executives cite a lack of collaboration as the main source of workplace failure. Innovation has long been understood to be the product of team effort, relying on peak levels of workforce engagement and collaboration for success. Yet stakeholders have never been more geographically dispersed, an embedded workplace reality that handicaps from the start the kind of fluid collaboration style needed to bring about successful innovation outcomes.
Secondly, this is the era of big data, in which exponentially larger amounts…