Technological Innovation is not only important for a business but can be crucial to maintain advantage and profitability. However Managers at a senior level can avoid the issue of Innovation and reject ideas about improving IT in their business because they view this as both risky and costly and will satifice for existing platforms and technologies that are in place even when they are not optimal for business level support. It is of course a managers prerogative to be cautious given the factors at stake however I would suggest a environment of communication to be wholly encouraged from managers to ensure new ideas are being listened to, analysed and, if deemed worthy of investment, implemented.
It is argued that the “Bandwagon” philosophy of Technological development is flawed and possibly so however I would argue that the level of IT and innovation in rival firms should be the first port of call when analyzing same in a business. A clear understanding of how competitors in similar industries use IT for their advantage can be of great benefit as well as providing realistic options for the businesses to invest in. Management love to hear about success stories and if it is shown to them that competitors are using a particular technologies to great benefit it is hard for them to then reject proposals. However it is then the onus of the company to further the technology proposed and apply it for their business advantage. Each business will have different demands and should be individual in their approach to implementing IT however in my opinion the industry analysis can be very effective in showing companies how IT can be successfully used.
There are a number of models and methods available to allow management to access the level of innovation needed in the business. I would suggest that a company should begin with the assessment of the level of innovation and IT in the industry in which they compete. This could be achieved with the help of the Technology Acceptance Lifecycle which is a model used to show how adaptive and positive companies are to embracing technologies. If the most successful firms in the industry are seen to be visionaries and early adopters then its question time for a company to see where their priorities lie.
A company should also analyse the Idea Generation Lifecycle within their business. This will give them insight into how their employees are given opportunities to approach them with ideas and innovative proposals. An understanding of this might illustrate the lack of media available for employees to approach management. It could lead to the creation of periodical meetings, Webchat, e-mail communiqué, even suggestion boxes etc in other words an environment where employees and possibly external partners are encouraged to give develop their ideas on how the business can advance through the use of technology.
When a company receives ideas on how to improve technology and IS/IT strategy within their business there are ways to assess how then to move forward. A Risk Analysis should be considered a priority when cost implications etc are calculated. Every proposal should be subject to such analyses as where there is opportunity there is risk, according to the laws of business. Understanding the risk factors involved will allow for categorization of ideas that appear worthy of further analyses.
Each development with regard a companies IS/IT strategy must be in line with their business Strategy. A GAP Analysis is the perfect tool to analyse this whereby in conjunction with the Prioritised Portfolio Model it allows the opportunity to see how the proposed developments fit in with the business strategy and gives priorities to systems which are crucial to fulfill certain business strategies.
The above steps are taken by companies who are said to be “mindfully innovative”. In other words they have the ability to analyse their industry situation yet have the focus necessary to only apply technologies and strategies necessary that is relevant to their business and their long term strategy.
There are many factors which inhibit innovation including:
- Time constraints
- Lack of resources
- Prototyping by code modification – this is where developers and companies “hack” old business application code and try to redevelop it. It can lead to tremendous frustration and is more time consuming and can be more costly than developing new applications.
- Decision making by consensus.
- The power of the installed base – Employees and customers may voice concerns and unwillingness to be left in the “lurch” while new system is being developed and they also may be unwilling to change.
- The importance of standards can inhibit the creation of independent applications.
I predict a mojor shift in the IT industry in the near future whereby they forecast that only few software providers will remain in the market. The survival of these companies will rely on their ability to be innovative and will prove interesting to see which companies will win the “survival of the fittest battle” in the evolution of the IT Industry.