Companies with a restricted view of innovation can miss opportunities to create new value for customers and themselves. The restriction is their perspective on innovation, like believing that technology by itself is innovation; it’s not.
There are many dimensions of business that can be innovated: business model, technology, customer experience, management, brand, networking, platform, value capture, supply chain, processes.
Process innovation is the most common of all types of approaches because you can always simplify. But also because integrating new technologies into a process gives you the opportunity to start from scratch. Yes, starting from scratch is an opportunity. Most people and organizations don’t see it this way because they’re myopic, and afraid of challenging what already works.
In doing so they fail to understand that inserting technology into an existing process gives them the opportunity to rethink and make the process better; to do so you have to experiment.
New technology enables a new and better process
Last week I shared with you a story about an engagement I had with a large mexican conglomerate that wanted to integrate our emotion recognition technology into their credit application process; and they wanted us to do it for free.
From our perspective, the focus of the engagement was to create a new process enabled by our technology; not insert our technology into an existing process. They saw it differently, and wanted it to work off the bat; it doesn’t work that way.
Specifically, we have to think about the experience, from beginning to end, that a customer goes through; this applies to any technology. That’s only one aspect, the others have to do with making the process useful for both the client and customer.
Figuring this out doesn’t happen in a brainstorm, or a Skype call, because you won’t find those answers in your and other people’s heads; it happens when you prototype ideas in the real world.
Apart from Neurosurvey, we also took on the challenge of partnering with HR Avatar to integrate emotion recognition into their platform. We’re not done yet, but I can tell you from that experience that connecting to our API was not enough, we’ve had to experiment various approaches to figure out the best way to achieve repeatable results.
After experimenting, we’ve concluded there are two steps we can eliminate. We arrived at this conclusion by brainstorming and, wait for it, experimenting with live people.
Start with the user first
I’ll give you another example. Chatbots have been hyped for the last two plus years, and there are many tools than can enable anyone with zero coding ability to create one in a few minutes. These types of chatbots are like auto-responders, come prepackaged in templates, and are free to use; with some constraints. If you want to learn more on how to code, resources like this article could be of great help.
Sounds great. But human interaction is more complex than simply providing a few choices for users. As a service or product provider, you have think through the experience before doing anything, doing so guarantees you’ll have something more robust that is truly integrated into a business process that helps the user achieve their desired outcome.
With that said, last year I built a chatbot for the largest car dealership group in Mexico. After multiple chats with the CEO and his operators, we developed a lead capture chatbot that would eliminate bottlenecks in the sales process and streamline their responsiveness with customers.
Again, they wanted it to plug and play; but chatbots don’t work that way. We had to think through the experience, but they insisted on plug and play.
I knew the process didn’t work. And to show them I had a friend pose as prospect, go through the experience (there were many loose ends) and got his opinion. I then used his feedback to back up my argument, it then became clear to them that there were changes needed to be made in the follow-up process.
- Technology enables you to do something in a better way, but you don’t simply plug and play technology into an existing process and hope it works perfectly.
- Every new technology comes loaded with assumptions about how it might work in practice; you need to test these assumptions and how they might change a process before moving forward.
- Experimentation is the shortest path to innovation.
Also published on Medium.