Customers often have better insights on product improvement and innovation, so businesses must work to engage with them accordingly. Source: Shutterstock

Customers often have better insights on product improvement and innovation, so businesses must work to engage with them accordingly. Source: Shutterstock

Innovation happens when businesses collaborate with users

IN THE fast-moving digital age, businesses must innovate effectively or risk losing relevance.

By definition, innovation has a wide context, but successful innovation involves generating new ideas to produce a new product or technology that satisfies specific needs. Not only that, innovation is a game-changer for an enterprise if it successfully addresses a specific problem and offers a valuable solution.

To put things into perspective, a technology user who was frustrated with the fact that a disposable camera strapped onto his wrist could not capture himself surfing. He ended up designing the infamous GoPro.

An idea born out of innovation upon discovering a problem with existing technology. That innovation is now worth US$800.

This further reinforces a recent study which reveals that business leaders source more than 50 percent of their innovation from the users of the products themselves.

Daily or consistent users of a certain technology have the most valuable insights as they can identify specific problems that exist after extended use.

This is where companies must tap into the potential of innovative users. Collaboration must happen efficiently at a productive rate to ensure market growth and improve existing products.

When there is a problem, there is a demand or need that is not fulfilled. This, then, triggers a chained reaction of idea development involving product improvement or upgrade.

For ideas to be generated, problems that users face and struggle with must be identified.

When a clear issue is detected, problem-solving ideas that can be translated into a form of new technology or product design will follow.

There is a need to acknowledge the increasing growth of user-driven innovation products. If businesses learn about users’ rising issues in product usage and their new demands for functions and services, a possible US$800 worth of product innovation awaits.

Companies sometimes struggle to engage with the users of their products as they fail to realize that their employees may also be users.

Creating a pool of feedback and suggestions made up of current employees that use the product for a certain period is the most practical form of collaboration.

In order to do this, employees need to be able to test and optimize the product on their own time, allowing them to structure feedbacks and reflect critically. Companies then, collect their insights to be analyzed and developed into ideas for product innovation.

Of course, credit is given where credit is due. Sourcing product users for a business innovation effort is not enough, a form of reward or recognition must be provided.

When the solution is commercialized, it adds revenue, production growth, reputation, and market value for the operation. On the other hand, it is a consumer-centric win for users.

Innovation is indispensable. Companies must either get with the program or prepare to fall out.