In a recent article by the Australian Financial Review, it states that half of Australian firms believe that innovation is merely a buzzword. The survey results also show that 23% of companies aren’t innovating at all.
Innovation – What Does it Mean to Us?
It’s no secret that the term “innovation” has been overused, especially in the technology sector. Sadly, this has led many industry players to lose sight of the meaning and importance of the concept. It’s very easy to write-off innovation as just another cliché or buzzword – but the real challenge comes from making it tangible and infusing it in everything an organisation does.
Here at Infomedia, we choose to invest in innovation and make it a core part of our values. We’re always striving to be a unique kind of company, with a different view of the world. We use an innovation mindset to help guide our attitudes toward product development, customer relationships and performance expectations of our global teams.
While our vision is to solve big problems, our approach facilitates progression, not perfection. I’m a firm believer that improvement and growth comes from change, and having an innovation culture is mission critical for success.
Building an Innovation Mindset
To make innovation a part of our DNA, we’ve built a framework that challenges the way we view ourselves, our capabilities and our goals. This framework ensures our innovation priorities are focused and aligned with our business strategy. It enables us to harness not only our internal ideas but those of our global customer base – with a defined pathway for investment and action on worthy ideas.
The importance of this mindset also applies to external factors; the way we communicate and the type of discussions we have with our customers is equally important to foster innovation. This ensures our customers get involved in the innovation process early and get to shape the ultimate outcome.
Our Customers are at the Heart of our Innovations
One of our favourite ways to innovate is to collaborate with our customers. We put our customers at the centre of everything we do and they’re at the heart of our innovation process. With customers in 186 countries, we are presented with many innovation opportunities.
Some of our best product innovations have come from asking our customers: “What are your challenges?”
We encourage an open exchange of ideas and have multiple pathways for collaboration. Our team have a deep level of understanding of our customers’ challenges, and are well positioned to ask the right questions and innovate quickly.
What About the Breakthrough Innovations?
The best breakthrough innovations usually have a disruptive business model. This is sometimes a barrier to success if the current market participants are not ready for it – no matter how good the product innovation is.
In the retail automotive space, dealerships are under pressure to provide the complete ownership experience to vehicle owners, while lowering their operating cost at the same time. When I visit dealerships, I don’t hear them calling for ‘breakthrough’ innovations. They want the simplicity of cloud solutions, with smart interoperability to improve sales processes and customer satisfaction.
When we scope ideas and challenges, our goal is never about ‘disruptive innovation’, it’s about solving problems. We don’t want to build software solutions that disrupts a dealership’s process or workflow – we want to improve it.
Innovating with Purpose
We have a long history of innovation at Infomedia, and the key considerations when we introduce new technology to our global customers are always relevance and purpose.
One of Infomedia’s earliest innovations is the Microcat Electronic Parts Catalogue (EPC). In today’s retail automotive landscape, some might see EPCs as a mature product. Dealerships and Parts Departments use it to look up and order the right parts – nothing more, nothing less.
However, we look beyond what an EPC is designed to do, and think about how to evolve its value to meet ongoing business challenges. Reinventing its purpose allowed our innovation team to explore new and creative ways to leverage technologies. For example, we discovered mobility as an unexploited innovation opportunity for EPCs.
After months of hard work, I’m very excited to announce our latest innovation: Microcat Messenger. It’s a mobile messaging app that integrates seamlessly with Microcat Live EPC. It empowers a dealership’s Parts Department to chat with their trade customers about their parts queries, look up parts information and place orders – all in one convenient location!
Microcat Messenger provides a new way for a Parts Department to interact and engage with trade customers during the buying process. It caters to the next generation of shoppers who use technology, social media and digital platforms to research, interact and shop.
The addition of Microcat Messenger turns Microcat Live from an EPC to a powerful parts selling tool. Dealerships can now turn their Parts Department into an online retail store or e-commerce platform – now that’s innovation!
Innovating and Winning – Not Just a Cliché!
In short, I believe that innovation is imperative for the ongoing success for any company. To us, innovation isn’t simply about adapting and staying relevant. It serves as a good reminder for us to push ourselves to grow, improve and do things better. An innovation mindset challenges us to think outside the box and create cutting-edge solutions that meet the needs of our customers.
So is innovation just a cliché? No, I think it’s best practice. The companies that innovate will win, but they’ll only win if they focus on their customers!