With predictions of a global recession, cable manufacturers may be considering abandoning any plans for innovation. Even in an economic downturn, however, there is always a place for bringing new ideas to market when the innovation process is incremental. This most common form of innovation utilises existing technology and increases value to the customer through adding new features or design changes to existing products. It can also mean adding value through simplification; in other words, removing features that are no longer relevant and only serves to add cost to the product.
The consequences of not innovating may not be felt immediately but, in the longer term, customers’ heads will be turned by companies who are taking their changing requirements more seriously. Investors and shareholders alike will favour companies that show both ambition for growth and a confidence in their offer.
So how can you champion innovation within your business? New ideas are likely to come from one of two sources: your customers and/or your staff.
Customers must demonstrate a need, desire and, most importantly, a willingness to pay for your product development. Even then, you need to be sure that, as well as securing income in the short term, the innovation aligns with your long-term plans for the product.
Similarly, staff across any operation of the business could be the source of a new idea, particularly if innovation is considered not simply as product development but rather the introduction of new processes.
Cultivating this approach where all are encouraged to feed in ideas may require a culture shift; particularly where long-serving members of staff may not see the need for improvement in products and processes which they first helped to conceive. They also need to see that their ideas are being acted upon; and the same goes for customers who actively input into your product roadmap.
Including innovation as a measure within staff appraisals and as a dedicated item on meeting agendas along with incentivising those ideas that go on to become commercially viable, can all help to keep innovation at the fore of your staff’s minds.
Finally, innovation – particularly disruptive innovation – requires investment. A welcome injection of finance may be available through Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs). KTPs are Europe’s leading programme in helping businesses improve their competitiveness and productivity through funded partnerships with academics and researchers. More information on this and other innovation support measures is available from the EC’s directory of knowledge transfer support and, for UK companies specifically, from Innovate UK.
You may also be interested to read Cimteq’s blog on Innovation velocity – all you need to know about accelerating your cable product development. For more information on Cimteq, please email Katy Harrison, Marketing Manager, Cimteq at firstname.lastname@example.org
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