Business development · 3 March 2016

Why innovation is the answer to productivity problems

Without innovation behind it, a business can quickly become commoditised
In our increasingly global marketplace, companies of all sizes need to remain at the cutting-edge of technology and use creative energies to stay competitive, now more than ever. A thinking outside the box? mentality is something that should be embraced across all sectors in order to allow small companies in particular to compete on a level playing field with larger global players.

While there is broad awareness of the benefits innovation can bring to a business, Britain has recently fallen short of productivity expectations despite an increase in economic growth. Therefore, encouraging businesses to be innovative and enhance their performance is now top of the agenda for organisations such as the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), as well as government bodies who are keen to see British industries thrive.

Defining innovation and putting theory into practice

For many businesses, there is still a question mark around what innovation actually is and why it’s important to encourage a creative culture where innovation can thrive. By definition, innovation refers to changing and creating more effective processes, products and ideas in an inventive way, which go above and beyond monitoring industry trends to affect demonstrable change in the marketplace.

Without innovation behind it, a business can quickly become commoditised, more generic and therefore less relevant to the marketplace and customers. Innovation is therefore important in helping differentiate a company from its competitors, by improving service levels to existing customers and identifying new ones to drive growth. In order to achieve this there are a number of things micro firm owners can do to keep the innovative spirit alive, outlined below.

Encourage staff to be innovators

Your staff can be the ultimate foundation for innovation. You can encourage innovative thinking amongst your entire team by fostering a culture of collaboration, hosting group planning and feedback sessions in order to set the bar for ideas to flow freely. Business owners should look to lead by example by sharing overarching company aims for the future with staff and inviting their input. This demonstrates respect for their opinions, which will ultimately motivate them.

Use technology

Technology can be a great facilitator to innovation in the workplace by assisting in certain areas, such as research and development. Technology can also help a company improve its business processes, stay ahead of trends and quickly adapt to the changing marketplace. Whether it’s the physical movement of goods, monitoring inventories in different places or securing access to new locations, you should always be looking at ways of embracing new technologies to benefit customers, the business, and the world around you.

Communicate creatively

Communication is an area companies of all sizes should look to evolveand remain competitive in. Owing to social media, small firms can now’share content with hundreds, if not thousands, of followers at atime. Like everything in business, communication is evolving and adaptingto social media and can contribute to success and growth across all areasof a company. From learning about your audience via social listening, finding new customers, to getting instant feedback, social media canunderpin a company’s success if used correctly and creatively.

?Focus on new product development

This is a crucial way a company can be innovative, spearheading its growth to stay at the leading-edge of its sector. By implementing the above tips, businesses can gain crucial insight into the thought processes of internal and external audiences, allowing each to develop products that staff can get behind, and that customers want. Owners can build a personality for their brand, and develop products that identify and reflect core company values.



David Poole is managing director of sales, UK South at FedEx Express and FedEx UK. FedEx Express is the world's largest express transportation company, providing fast and reliable delivery to every US address, as well as more than 220 countries and territories.?