Why Great Innovations Need Even Better Strategies
March 21, 2017
#StrategyforSuccess No.1: In this blog series, we explore why and how strategy has the potential to make and break products and services in the emerging technology sector. This week, we discuss why it is fundamental that good innovations are supported by outstanding commercial strategies.
You’ve designed your product. It’s cool, innovative, and you have the perfect customer in mind. You take it to market. Suddenly, you are beset with problems that you had not anticipated. Your servers crash. Your systems aren’t handling the service in the way you expected. People are calling you but you don’t know what systems are in place to deal with customer enquiries or complaints. Apparently, it turns out that your security isn’t that secure after all.
What do you do next?
This is a pretty dire picture of how some product and service launches play out in the emerging technology sector. Far too often, organisations are so preoccupied with the design, features, benefits, and development of their product or service that commercial strategy falls by the wayside, or is put off until the product or service is market-ready. Even worse, in some situations, a commercial strategy is only implemented as an afterthought or as a firefighting measure.
In order for products and services to succeed commercially, a clear, forward-thinking strategy needs to be put in place from the outset.
But why is having a commercial strategy so important?
Defining the end goal
“Strategy: 1. A plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim” – Oxford English Dictionary
Defined as a ‘plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim’, a strategy dictates the end goal of any product or service. Without a goal, how do you know what you are aiming for? Without an implementation strategy, how will you ever come to realise your innovative ideas? Having a clearly-defined goal and target for your innovation from early on in the process of development aids clarity and enables teams to unite around a common goal. Strategy lays out the processes, procedures and business goals related to the project for everyone to understand.
Delivering the right solution
As part of the end goal, strategy enables organisations to see their innovations as business prospects. Whilst innovating and developing can be very exciting, having a commercial focus is essential in order to make a profit. By identifying and factoring in the needs of a target market and end user from the outset, the innovative process is focussed on delivering a viable solution to a real-world problem.
Preparing in order to perform
“Commercial strategy is integral to the success of any product or service and should be taken into account well before you even reach the starting blocks”
Whilst most companies would profess to understand the centrality of strategy to success, it is often neglected until a product or service is nearing developmental completion. However, in order to deliver the best results, a commercial strategy must be considered long before a product or service is ready to go to market. In the same way that an athlete prepares for a big sporting event, so too should businesses prepare for commercialisation. Commercialisation requires time, energy, preparation, and focus to guarantee results. Having a commercial strategy is integral to the success of any product or service and should be taken into account well before you even reach the starting blocks.
You need to have a Plan B
Having a Plan A is often not enough. In businesses and projects, circumstances change all the time. From internal business changes and restructuring to wider market fluctuations and socio-economic changes, many different factors can affect your plans. So what’s the best way to ride out these changing tides? In short, get ahead and get prepared.
Ensuring that your product or service is supported by a clear strategy from the beginning will enable you to more quickly and effectively adjust to unforeseen circumstances and successfully navigate and overcome challenges. In preparing a strategy, you may even be able to identify and mitigate potential problems before they become tangible. Some products and services may be years in the making, therefore your strategy needs to be flexible enough to adapt to the changing needs of your business and the market as time goes on. Create a strategy that grows with and reacts to your project.
“Strategy has the power to drive short-term and long-term success for the business as a whole”
In the military, the importance of preparation is constantly emphasised, and for good reason. Without proper planning and preparation, missions could fail, result in injuries, or even loss of life. Similarly, in business, it is not an exaggeration to state that strategy holds the power to make or break your product or service.
Innovation no doubt has its place: after all, innovation helps to create products and services that are high-quality and high-performing. However, a strategy has the power to drive short-term and long-term success for the business as a whole. Equally, when a commercial strategy is not seriously considered, the impact can damage a business in the long-term.
Without a strong, strategic approach, products and services are increasingly likely to fail in the market. With proper planning and preparation, however, their future is bright.
Huduma Limited specialises in helping businesses of all shapes and sizes to commercialise their emerging technology products and services. With over 30 years’ experience in delivering solutions on a global scale, we have the skills, knowledge and experience to help your innovations succeed.
Contact us to find out more.