INSIGHT: How NZ businesses can innovate faster and better

David Reiss, Business technology specialist, Spark Digital, admits true innovation is hard. So hard, in fact, that the majority of established businesses aren't successful at it.

True innovation is hard. So hard, in fact, that the majority of established businesses aren't successful at it.

But - like Blockbuster and Kodak - if you can't keep up when your industry is disrupted by innovators, your days are numbered.

Your success can slow you down

Established businesses are often successful because of their stability and ability to deliver what customers expect. You need to provide good, consistent service to keep the money coming in to pay your bills and keep your staff.

But that element of success also means IT teams are tasked with keeping the lights on and making controlled, incremental changes. Policies, processes, investments and incentives all reward "safe" behaviour that reduces risk.

This approach does work to deliver evolutionary changes, but it seldom results in earth-shattering innovation.

It really is a mindset of "slow and steady wins the race" - which is great when your industry is moving at a steady pace - like running a marathon. But it gets dicey is when that pace suddenly increases.

Technology is speeding the race up

Technology is enabling innovation; strengthening competitors and creating disruptive new ones. These competitors will one day turn the marathon you are running (and maybe even winning) into a sprint.

The pace of change is so fast that successful businesses could be seriously threatened in a matter of months.

Disruptive innovations are coming harder and faster than ever; like Uber for transport, AirBnB for accommodation and Spotify for music. The barrier for new entrants is also being removed by crowdsourcing sites like Kickstarter.

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