What Role Does Innovation Play In A Downturn Market

Innovation means many things to many people.

For me, Innovation is centred on introducing changes through new methods, ideas or products to drive competitive advantage and gain market share.

Boom To Bust
Historically, in boom years, the trend of innovation has been to focus on doing things quicker, cheaper and faster. One has only to look at technology innovation across the trading environment, from program and algorithmic trading through to Direct Market Access (DMA) and Smart Order Routing, where speed has been king and latency has sounded the death knoll for an organisation.

There are no prizes in business for coming second. In the current climate, being the quickest and fastest is no longer a sure fire way to gain market share and improve the bottom line. Innovation in the current market may not feature at the top of the CEO’s agenda, but current conditions dictate innovation as a key element to introduce operational efficiency and remove cost from the bottom line.

Current Role Of Innovation
Gone are the days when Innovation was hailed as the new messiah to part the balance sheet and propel the P&L on a climbing wave. The new wave of Innovation is typically tactical in nature and focused on cost efficiencies to retain market share against the adage of doing more with less.

These initiatives, by their very nature, are small innovative steps funded as part of existing operating technology or project budgets. Only when these individual innovation accomplishments are knitted into a cohesive roadmap can the CIO prove his true worth. Central to this is turning standalone innovation achievements into a cohesive Innovation roadmap that delivers true value to an organisation.

Selling The Pitch
While everybody else is hunkering down in the current environment and discretionary funding a distant memory, the temptation is to stop innovating but nothing could be further from the truth. Innovation needs to continue to sustain the corporate entity. In tough markets, it becomes ever more critical to increase innovation to grow market share. As markets have shrunk along with the revenue per customer the only winner is the one that continues to innovate to grow market share and remove costs from the bottom line.

For an organisation to innovate, the correct culture needs to be in place to foster an environment where innovation can evolve unhindered to envision and create new business products and services. It is the CIO’s role, as a leader of change and driver of Innovation, to lead initiatives to support flexibility and agility for rapid business change. As the Innovation champion, the CIO requires courage to know when to pull the plug on an innovation project that is not delivering. Key to this is not punishing failure.

The correct environment needs to be in place to support a blame free culture to enable innovation projects to be canned without blame and repercussion when they don’t hit the mark.

History has told us that the greatest innovations in time such as the Apple IPod or Cisco Telepresence would not have happened in a kill / blame culture.

Why not share your success stories with me?

Email : ian@IanAlderton.com
Tel : +44 (0) 7702 777770

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