Demystifying Business Innovation

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Guest post by John Sviokla

Why innovate?

Because the growth of your business ― and, ultimately, its success and sustainability ― demands it.

In the past two decades over a billion new customers have entered the market economy, mostly in the parts of the world we now refer to as “emerging markets”.

In the eyes of today’s CEO ― regardless of his or her home market ― that’s where the action is: it’s among the customers of the fast growing market economies in countries like China, India, Russia and Brazil. (To learn more about what CEOs are thinking about emerging markets and other topics, check out the results of PwC’s 2011 CEO Survey.)

As a result, businesses seek innovations that will lead to competitive advantage in the right places around the globe. Those reliant on mature markets need to differentiate, while those in emerging locales are moving up the value chain to lessen their dependence on cost advantages they know can be fleeting. Everyone wants to grow in their own back yard, and someone else’s. Business innovation will flourish as companies fight to win.

In today’s hyper-connected globalized economy, innovating is not optional, it’s an imperative. And making innovation a reality has clearly moved beyond allocating resources for men in white coats working on mystery projects in isolated labs.

Innovation today not only involves deep science and “people in white coats”, it is also the continuous need to improve and re-invent products, processes, services. . .and even brands. These days, that means involving a lot more people, both inside and outside the organization ― engaging them in rigorous processes, structures and practices to help ensure that rapidly evolving customer expectations are met.

So just how do successful innovators create the processes, structures and practices to move the handful of viable ideas from among the thousands circulating within all organizations all the way to implementation?

A new global report I helped create along with my colleagues at PwC highlights some of the misconceptions surrounding business innovation and looks at how successful innovators create the right environments that turns viable ideas into reality. It’s called Demystifying innovation: Take down the barrier to new growth.

Earlier this year CEOs in virtually every sector told PwC that innovation is a priority, with 78% saying that they believe innovation will generate ‘significant’ new revenue and cost reduction opportunities over the next three years.

While many companies are pursuing innovation to secure competitive advantage, for certain industries ― such as pharmaceuticals and media and entertainment ― innovation is a matter of survival where scientific and technological advancements are changing customer demand and business models.

Besides this report, there are several other recent pieces of PwC thought leadership on the topic of innovation that may interest you. Among them are…

Decoding Innovation’s DNA

This issue of PwC’s Technology Forecast contains several different articles about innovation. It focuses on enterprise innovation and the role of information technology. In it, the authors try to answer the question: Is innovation the result of inscrutable, opaque genius, or can innovation be treated as an end-to-end process that can be optimized over time?

Measuring Innovation

If innovation isn’t measured, can it be managed?  Understand how universities manage innovation through a range of disciplined and novel approaches.

Six Tensions Influence Innovation

Later this month PwC’s View magazine will feature an article where I introduce the six tensions that most impact a company’s ability to successfully innovate. Be sure to look for that at

Tells us what you’ve learned about how to “demystify integration” and take down the barriers to growth in your organization.

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  • Montreal businesses

    Usually the problem is people are thinking, if this is working, why change it? And even if you make changes, sometimes they will go back since they don’t let an idea or an innovative project flourish.