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Innovation: Transformative Technology (People, Process, Systems)

Innovation is a seemingly common, yet powerful word in today’s technology industry. Venture Capital and corporations are fueling research and development in technology. For example, in Q1, VC funding hit $17.3 billion total. More specifically, technology growth rounds have increased by 4%. (Source). Additionally, tech IPOs are outperforming all other markets, further encouraging investors to put their money in this sector. As of Q1 2017, four IPOs: Snap, Presidio, MuleSoft, and Alteryx are up 22%. (Source)

Technology innovation can create value in many ways, allowing people to perform tasks more efficiently, conveniently and reliably. However, any type of change brings along challenges that need to be faced. As you’ll see below, when it comes to tech innovation in particular, the opportunities created greatly outweigh these challenges and ultimately lead to success and optimization, for all parties.

This first post of the four-part Innovation Blog Series will dive deep into transformative technology and the unique opportunities and challenges it presents.

Innovation isn’t simply coming up with an idea; it also requires listening to hundreds of others’ perspectives and iterations of change to perfect the solution before you achieve widespread adoption.

INTURN is one of those innovations. INTURN started from an idea, and since then has developed into a sophisticated retail technology platform used by some of the most recognizable brands and retailers. To get where the company is today, there were countless hours spent listening to these businesses, taking extensive notes, prototyping, requesting feedback, and implementing new features.

The pace of technological innovation and widespread adoption is accelerating. First look at consumer innovation: It took telephone 50 years to reach 50mm users. TV 22 years, Internet 7 years, Facebook 3 years, Twitter 2 years. Consumer level innovation is creating a more tech savvy business audience. Also look at enterprise level innovation: In 2016 alone, Salesforce released over 175 new features, allowing for better time efficiency, and overall higher customer success.

One of the most widely referenced social science theories explaining how populations adopt innovation is the Diffusion of Innovation (DOI). The theory uses a traditional bell curve graph to help illustrate the adoption rate and it is highly applicable for technology adoption at the consumer and enterprise levels.

What is the The Diffusion of Innovation model?

While the graph appears pretty simple, it’s worthwhile to dive deeper into the bell graph’s five sections. These categories have various definitions depending on the technology sector of how people adapt to new innovation:

Innovators (2.5%). Innovators are the visionaries willing to try new ideas and take risks along the way. These are the people that don’t need much convincing, they want to be the first to try the new innovation. You’ll find them signing up to be part of a beta release audience to help test and provide feedback.

Early adopters (13.5%). People in this category are the thought leaders and drive change within an organization. They may not express a willingness to try anything that comes along, but they’re comfortable with change and helping others understand the importance of change. These people will buy the Fitbit right away, immediately trusting that it’ll make them more active if it makes sense. They don’t need anyone else to tell them it works.

Early majority (34%). These individuals aren’t thought leaders, but they are the people you see lined up outside of a store on the day a new set of VR goggles come to market. Right when they saw an employee using them and showing how they work, the early majority are on board.

Late majority (34%). These people are somewhat skeptical, typically waiting until a larger population adopts an innovation to invest their time, effort, and resources to make a change. This is your Dad who finally decides to order the Amazon Alexa after seeing and using it at your house.

Laggards (16%). Everyone knows people who are “stuck in their ways.” Convincing these individuals to make a change is challenging, but a lot of times worth the challenge. These are the ones that are fine to turn their thermostat up by hand, they don’t think they need a Nest.

While not everyone is the innovator who quickly adjusts to new ideas and optimizations, all other roles play crucial factors in successfully implementing a new form of technology. Inventors need the kind of people who will test out their ideas, as well as those who need to be convinced to use them. This feedback is then used to iterate on the technology, consistently making better, more user-friendly versions. Thus, the innovators, the laggards, and all in between are important to the adoption to new technology.

To begin, the inventors ask themselves, “How can I revamp this process, this system, this service, etc?” Then, “How will I appeal to the late majority; how will I convince the laggards?” It’s challenging, but doable. From Siri to Seamless to Alexa to INTURN to Uber, technology innovation is undoubtedly continuing to grow.

Seems simple, but while there is significant upside to adoption of optimized processes and more advanced systems, these modernizations come with many necessary steps starting with innovators to the end goal of convincing the skeptics.

Stand out from the others – New tools and platforms are being released on a regular basis and boosted by successful press, so it’s easy to get blinded. Pay the due diligence by researching and analyzing to ensure the innovation idea will outshine its competitors

Align leadership – this takes time, effort, and possible compromise

Communicate effectively – convey benefits of the technology, how is this different from the competitors in the space?

Prepare your team – assign all roles, ensuring all aspects of making this solution work are cohesive

Be organized – be prepared to have all information ready, including answers to questions, available resources, and a collaborative team

Train users – ensure users are using the technology to the best of their ability

Anticipate Challenges – have a response ready for any objection or opposition

Make it sexy – Excite the innovators, appeal to the majority, inspire the laggards

Make it routine – Make use of the solution as part of consumers’ everyday lives

Innovate further – be ready to make updates, releases, and any changes based on feedback to ensure consumer satisfaction

Though challenges may certainly arise during the process of technology innovation, for both the inventors and the “adopters”, the proof is in the facts: they are achievable. If done correctly, with hard work and great teams, a successful idea can be implemented. And the reward will outweigh the challenges that were faced, as the end result is a new, more efficient way of operating that decreases time spent and provides numerous other financial benefits. Innovation is key to success.

Part 2 of this blog series will discuss the scale and implementation of retail innovation in comparison to other areas of innovation, so check back next week!