The Collins Manufacturing Co. was a major US producer of horse carts in the late 1890s. They produced over 30,000 buggies and wagons each year at their plant in Jackson. The advent of the automobile forced a downturn and by 1907 the business had closed. I imagine the owners had originally envisaged the business carrying on to future generations, however ignoring technological improvements and changing customer demand can destroy a business.
Innovation is defined as anything that changes something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.
We don’t have to go that far back in time to remember large household names that failed to innovate such as Blockbuster, Blackberry, Toys R Us, Tie Rack, Polaroid, HMV and I have to include Kodak, who initially held the future of digital photography and chose to ignore it.
The need to innovate becomes even more tangible when we consider items that have disappeared from common use within the past 25 years. The list is extensive, but I will name a few: CD’s, DVD’s, phone Books, encyclopaedias, VCR’s, fax machines, land line phones, standalone GPS devices, movie rental stores, directory enquiry services, photographic film and development booths, PDA’s, overhead projectors, VHS and magnetic audio tapes, manila folders, treasury tags………...and so on.
As a business leader, don’t get complacent and rest on your previous success. This can leave you in a dangerous position, especially when everyone around you is innovating and adapting. What are you doing now that will differentiate you from your competitors?
A failure to innovate can leave you limping behind competitors. Technology needs to be included within your business model irrespective of your industry. The continued development of Artificial Intelligence will replace most data entry and number crunching tasks within the next 5 years and whether you agree with the prospect or not, AI will become the new reality. But innovation does not need to be as advanced as AI, basic innovation can include improving everyday business management controls and processes and this is where we can help.
Companies need to be mindful of their own competitive position in the marketplace. They can’t rely on the products and services they provided in the past, they need to be looking wider and seeing how they can bring new products, services and technologies to market and create greater efficiencies in their operations,
Government incentives are available for innovation and certain development costs can be included under the R&D tax credit scheme.
To conclude, remember that all the companies I listed above were very large companies. They enjoyed massive amounts of success; however, this was all brought to an end due to their failure to innovate and adapt. Let it be a lesson to all business owners and leaders, if you want your business to succeed, innovate according to the demands of your customer.
Reluctance to innovate and change can ruin a business, so don’t let it ruin yours.
For those in doubt I suggest reading the book “Who moved my cheese” by Dr. Spencer Johnson, to learn how to anticipate, adapt and enjoy change.