April 30, 2013

The Business Needs that Drive Innovation

In today’s hyper-competitive business climate, businesses don’t need to innovate just to gain an advantage over competitors. Businesses today need to innovate simply to survive. An industry leader can become a laggard in a single product cycle. The pace of technological change is disrupting business models and forcing companies to continually improve their products and services and/or create new ones.

CARFAX is an example of a company with a very successful product that needed to be optimized to maintain market leadership. CARFAX provides detailed vehicle history information to help millions of people buy and sell cars with more confidence. By 2010, it was clear to the company that its product had to be made available on mobile devices to remain the market leader.

We worked with CARFAX to develop iOS and Android applications that put vehicles history reports in the hands of mobile shoppers. A bar code scanner allows dealers and buyers to get the information at the most critical time – when they are on the lot making a buy decision.

Our client Northrop Grumman provides an example of new product innovation that drives cost savings through improved productivity. For Northrop Grumman, 3Pillar developed a mobile app with the capability to give flight line personnel, military leaders and depot operations staff secure, real-time insight into aircraft readiness, fleet readiness and mission capability rates.

This application takes fighter jet maintenance to an entirely new level. By moving critical data from deep in the network to the edge, workers can take immediate action that saves time and money.

When it comes to either optimizing an existing product or creating a new one, most companies look for external expertise. Internal resources are often focused on keeping day-to-day operations running, and maintaining existing legacy systems. An external product development partner can bring new technology and fresh innovation to bear. Coupled with highly skilled and experienced resources, companies can deliver differentiated products to market much faster.

When looking for a product development partner, obviously it’s critical to choose the right firm. The right partner takes you all the way there – from business pain to idea, idea to design, design to development, development to product and market introduction. The key to this process is a disciplined focus, which starts with defining the minimum viable product (MVP).

You can’t move swiftly to market if you try to “boil the ocean” with your first product release. My team helps clients clearly define the top priority new product attributes, design those attributes, then get consumer feedback and iterate. This process delivers a stronger product to market faster. It’s all about disciplined innovation designed to quickly enhance revenue streams or reduce costs to operations.

Almost all businesses are going through a disruptive period of change right now, and its pace is accelerating. Innovation is no longer required to lead, it’s required to survive and grow. There is no longer a status quo. Companies will rise or fall depending on how well they use innovative technologies to create differentiated and compelling experiences for their customers.