Business Innovation – ideas for business models to gain competitive advantage

Do you have a plan for business innovation, to make sure your business model is fit for the future, in light of market changes and innovations elsewhere?

What is having an impact your market? What is creating new opportunities? Legislation, technology and demographics are just three drivers of change.

I invite you to take a look at the thoughts and ideas below, and some carefully selected resources from respected thought-leaders, as a stimulus for your own creative thinking and innovation for your business.

Business Innovation can open a Global Opportunity

Global changes are creating business opportunities and challenges for entrepreneurs and companies of all sizes and in all markets.

To pick just three from a wide range of changes, opportunities, and challenges:

  • Mobile phones – and the ability to access information while on the move, and the personal, location specific marketing opportunities being created
  • Cloud computing – and the ability to create and deploy applications quickly, globally and to create trading portals and online communities that can be monetized
  • Social Media – and the ability to find, be found, connect and communicate with people globally much more swiftly, but also to share views and ideas, and collaborate globally as well.

Which changes will have the most profound impact on your market?

Agility – the fourth competitive advantage

Competitive advantage was defined by Michael Porter in 1980 in three dimensions: ‘Best Product’, or ‘Lowest Cost’, or ‘Closest to Customer’. Now, a generation later, all three are important, and the benchmark in each area is much higher.

More recently a fourth dimension has emerged, ‘Most Agile’. The ability to implement changes rapidly, and successfully, is becoming a significant competitive advantage.

  • This might mean launching new products more quickly, as is evident in the motor industry for example.
  • It might mean changing processes more quickly, as is happening in software development and release, with Agile and SCRUM methodologies.
  • It might mean re-purposing value quickly, for example turning a service into a product (Banking and Financial Services for example), or a product into a service (Software as a s Service) .

These need to be grounded on a sense of what the market and customers are looking for, based on innovators instinct (Steve Jobs, James Dyson) or methodical research, of a bit of both.

Where do you get your inspiration for business innovation from?

There are many fantastic sources of ideas and insight, from thought-leaders with many backgrounds.

Your sector

Looking within your industry and seeing what the innovators and role models are doing elsewhere, through trade magazines and conferences is one source. There is a danger of being a ‘me-too’ player though.

Other sectors

Looking at other industries and examples is another. There are now even more publications and information sources available, via the Internet. LinkedIn for example now features thought-leaders who you can follow and read, if you have time and inclination. Tapping into quality sources of great ideas and thinking will probably pay dividends, over listening to gloom and doom of mainstream news media, or pulp fiction of too many television dramas and soaps.

Thought leaders

Through social media it’s now much easier to find thought leaders. There are thousands in LinkedIn for example. It is possible now to Follow them without needed to make a connection. There are also millions of blogs and twitter accounts where you can identify people with interesting views. However, it can take a huge amount of time to read articles only to find they are of dubious quality. I’ve identified some of te thought leaders who have provided ideas that have helped me and my business innovation.

Sources of Business Innovation I respect

Some thought-leaders and inspiration sources that have had a profound effect on my thinking are highlighted below. I hope you find them interesting and useful too.

Roger James Hamilton – Fast Forward Your Business

Roger has an amazing view of the seismic and game-changing drivers in the global economy, and a very engaging way of sharing them. He has refined the changes to ten, which he updates annually, which fuels his speaking tours. I was introduced to Roger and his thinking by Topher Morrison via John Cato and I attended one of his events in London in 2011. He records many of his events and they are available via YouTube. To give you an example, one of the ten trends is A.I. Artificial Intelligence. This is reaching the surface not just in decision-support, such as self-service database searches but also in business operations. Customer support call-centres are starting to implement A.I. to handle inquiries. If it enables me to achieve what I want in less time and lower cost then I for one don’t mind.

Roger has also developed a diagnostic tool to provide guidance into people’s entrepreneurial strengths. Although he refers to it as a Wealth Profile, at it’s core is an extremely well developed and presented personality profile model specifically for entrepreneurs and people in business. I’ve found it provide great insight and clarity into my own strengths, and roles that fit with those strengths, and also to identify complementary strengths to partner up with. I hope you are able to find similar clarity from it.

Take your Wealth Profile test Now!

Tom Peters – Re-imagine!

What impressed me about the thinking that went into this book was not just the range of ideas and the visual treatment but also that Tom actually wrote it. He was a successful corporate consultant and speaker who could have gone into comfortable retirement. But instead he chose to share some really profound observations and insight into the way the world and business was changing.

As well as demographic changes, particularly the implications of the the aging population and the increasing importance of women, he also puts forward some radical and innovative ideas about redefining the relationship with customers, and the nature of work itself.

Business Model Generation – Alexander Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur

Customer Value Propositions come in many forms, and business structures and models define and reflect these, with greater or lesser success. Simple models, to grow, to make, to sell are evolving as the eco-system and extended supply chain  creates opportunities that are new, or under-served by others. Their proposition covers 9 elements that are in the business model mix. These can prompt entrepreneurs and business owners to evaluate the relative importance of these in their market, and their relative performance as a business.

There are many case studies presented, for example looking at Amazon and their assessment of their strengths in fulfillment and Web IT, and the rationale for their development of the web services business – leveraging their strengths to meet a growing and under-served market need.

If you have found inspiration here or elsewhere, and you’d like to share it, please join the discussion.

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