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Innovation triggers to look out

Part 1 of a 3 part article

How easy is it to differentiate? Image source: wiki under creative common license

Every organization wants to innovate and the boards are very supportive of innovation efforts. But how good are you at recognizing the smoke that indicates that innovation is now a priority?

An analysis of the great organizations that have not survived disruption in their industry, will show that even great organizations can fail to see the danger signals or grab disruption opportunities.

The early warning signs that you and your industry should be innovating can be classified in 3 buckets

  1. Tough to differentiate between products or offer

  2. Offers have become too complex and customers are struggling to use them

  3. Under or overpriced markets

In this first part, we look at the situation where it’s tough to differentiate between products or competing offers in the market

This warning sign is common in industries that are product/offering focussed and where the barriers to develop a competing product/offer is low.

For example, most corporate hospitals would fall in this category. The layouts, process, the treatment protocols, specialities and pricing would be very similar. Why would a consumer choose one hospital over another? Probably convenience, the specific doctor you want to consult, the direction of your insurance provider are some factors that drive the choice. But except in specific cases, you could probably go to any corporate hospital in India and get similar quality of treatment at comparable costs.

Another example would be shopping malls. You will find the same retail brands at every mall, very similar dining options, the same movies running in theatres operated by a chain etc. Again proximity is probably the key factor that determines the choice of mall to visit in an Indian metro city.

The Indian automotive market is beginning to have a similar look. Take small SUV’s, they all look very similar in appearance, have similar engines, gearboxes and probably distributed by dealership owned by the same person.

If you find yourselves in this situation you should look for innovations that impact the customer experience

The experience innovation deals with the way the customer experiences the offering and include Service innovation, Channel innovation, Brand innovation and Customer engagement innovation.

The customer experience shift serves organization well when customers are looking for better experiences amongst the competitors. Such shift is not only relevant for B2C business, but also for B2B business. In a socially connected world, both good and bad experiences create impact and customer experience shift becomes a powerful tool.

Too often organizations find experience shift as a way to attract consumers that ignore a market; for lacking personalization, for being elitist, for lack of humanizing element etc. The other opportunity for experience shift arises from the industry creating barriers for switching, such as technology lock in, contract penalties etc.

The type of innovations that embody experience shift include creating better services; manage the consumer experience across life cycle, customize and personalize service requirements of consumers, create effective loyalty programs etc.

Innovating the delivery channel is another option and organizations can explore concepts such as experience centres, surprise channels like pop ups, use of non-traditional channels, going direct etc.

Customer engagement models provides a key innovation opportunity and research indicates that this continues to be a weak area for most organizations. Innovation opportunity exists to simplify and automate engagement process, curate and enable personalized engagement, grant users and employees authority to shape unique opportunities themselves, humanize engagement and so on

Branding innovation continues to be a weak innovation area for organizations. Opportunities exists for organizations to reinforce key attributes and enhance credibility of the offering, achieve values alignment, leverage brand and extend reach, component branding etc.

Larry Keeley's book 10 types of innovation, explains these in much more detail and is a great read for an innovation professional.

If you would like to explore the different ways in which your organization can innovate, do reach out to me.

Krishnan Naganathan

Krishnan is a leading innovation consultant and focuses on helping people and organizations innovate and build capabilities for innovation. He brings over 25 years of experience in the industry and consulting. You can reach him by phone / WhatsApp: +919791033967 or email:


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