In the quicksand that is today’s digital business landscape, staying put is tantamount to sinking. To escape this quagmire and thrive in an increasingly competitive and innovative market, companies need to continually reinvent themselves. By attacking their own operational weaknesses while simultaneously putting in place interventions that help foster customer intimacy, companies can ensure they stay ahead of the competition.
Be it business process automation, churning large volumes of complex, disparate market data, or engaging seamlessly with customers through various media channels, digital innovation is at the very heart of the modernization enterprises today need to undergo. It has grown from a luxury into an immediate business necessity, in order to keep themselves relevant and competitive.
What is digital innovation?
To strengthen competitiveness, businesses are increasingly depending on digital technologies to create new markets, build enablers that ease the way for customers and partners to interact with them, and usher in greater collaboration and cohesive efficiencies in operations. Simply put,
Digital Innovation refers to the use of mobile and web technologies to better the competitive position of a company in the market place.
10 things to consider in a digital innovation strategy
Digital innovation, like any winning business strategy, needs to be reflective of factors that are both intrinsic (your business landscape) and extrinsic (prevalent market circumstances) to your business. A robust digital innovation strategy must include an amalgamation of the following perspectives:
1. Identifying and resolving business deficiencies and bottlenecks
2. Hunting down competitor weaknesses to gain business turf
3. Redefining and expanding market presence through innovation
4. Strengthening operating teams through greater cohesiveness
5. Improving operational efficiencies through smart automation
6. Facilitating transparency for changing customer, partner needs
7. Managing enterprise-wide operations in a centralized, scalable manner
8. Reducing operational costs through a cloud-based, serverless model
9. Bringing transparency into management information flows
10.Ensuring business data security and compliance takes a front seat
Opportunities in digital innovation
Digital innovation, by virtue of its relevance and applicability across varied walks of business operations, is a necessity for enterprises looking to boost their competitive edge.
When enterprises constantly increase their competitiveness through a culture of digital innovation, remaining continually on the hunt, they become difficult to be hunted.
With the rapid evolution of technologies today, the potential for digital innovation is limitless, in terms of the depth and breadth of their relevance for business operations. Here are a few key benefits to consider:
Business development and expansion: Digital innovation can help create new user segments, enhance usage and revenues from existing segments, usher in new application and revenue opportunities, facilitate replication of product functionality in new markets, and introduce a new commercial paradigm in the market. In a digital era, where businesses have yet to build digital innovation into their business roadmap, a successful digital innovation can translate into clear business value for your customers, and an edge over your competition.
Higher through put of operational machinery: One of the most effective ways an organization can get its people to focus on innovation and value creation is to free them from routine, low-value work that doesn’t require skilled decision-making. Digital innovation occurs when routine processes, that previously required human intervention, flow smoothly through a well-defined set of decision-making rules (that only throw up exceptions that need attention). Such digital-innovation-led automations lead to faster processes, quicker response and resolution times, and the ability to scale to higher volumes, all while assuring significant cost savings.
Ease of doing business: Digitization helps you collect and disseminate information with your stakeholder ecosystem on channels of their choice. Besides keeping your interaction with your stakeholders organized, this also streamlines the collection and storage of large volumes of key stakeholder information, helping resolve customer concerns efficiently. Ease of doing business with a company is a huge competitive strength that breeds customer and partner loyalty, thus enhancing stakeholders’ lifetime value. Perceived ease of doing business with your enterprise also helps build positive brand recall from potential customer segments.
Data-backed decision-making: In a world that’s flooded with information, it’s expedient for businesses to put in place measures to collect and store large volumes of complex, unstructured market data in a meaningful manner. Digital innovation in the field of management information systems (MIS) helps businesses not only automate the collection and storage of critical business data but also help sensibly process it in real time, and derive and disseminate key business insights to relevant business stakeholders in a consumable format. This helps build customer/partner intimacy as a unique differentiator for your business to succeed.
Personalized market offerings at scale: Digital innovation helps businesses segment their customers more effectively, and create customized product offerings and pricing bundles. Depending on your business model and level of digitization, key customer and market insights gathered from the aforementioned analytics/MIS arm, can be directly fed to your personalization engine to customize business offerings and communications for different segments in real time. Keen insights into customer behavior, combined with knowledge of technological capabilities, can make a business manager sense emerging opportunities early and take proactive, data-backed business decisions to anticipate and respond effectively to market trends.
Approaches to digital innovation
Corporate culture: “Hunting isn’t just something we do. It is fundamental to who we are.” Organizations that embody this attitude to conquer the market need to consciously recognize digital innovation as a key component of their corporate culture and communicate to their employees the need to constantly look out for areas of improvement, process automation, and digitization. Innovation should be a key yardstick for measuring employee performance and success, and training employees on the benefits of innovation should be the norm. A top-down emphasis is vital for ensuring grassroots-level internalization of this philosophy.
Initial seeding of digital innovation efforts: When a company is taking its first steps towards digitization, it makes sense to seed digital innovation projects across various functions by getting a few people from each function to champion the project implementation. It’s vital for companies to get the maximum involvement of employees who bring substantial knowledge of current processes and their rules. It may be good to start with small projects and celebrate early wins to get employees’ buy-in to such efforts.
Focus on process rather than end results: It’s highly recommended that organizations follow an agile process for digital innovation, where the feedback loop from end users is built into the product development cycle. Such a process ensures that the developed product is tested multiple times at each stage, and loopholes are identified and plugged on an ongoing basis. The final product that results also tends to be more intuitive and accepted by end users and customers.
Building an innovation portfolio: Though it’s tempting to strive for a gargantuan idea that will transform the world and make the company a runaway success, these products seldom happen. Digital innovation is never a one-off initiative that completely transforms a company. Successful companies typically manage a sizeable portfolio of innovations from across different functions of its operations. This portfolio spans from big disruptive innovations to incremental product and process innovations. As the number of digital initiatives mushroom across divisions and processes, the company gets well on its way to a true digital transformation.
Choosing the right technology: To venture into and thrive in the field of digital innovation and transformation, it’s vital for companies to choose a robust technology platform that provides it with the ability to launch cross-regional, cross-functional, enterprise-wide digital initiatives, deploy automations at scale, and seamlessly integrate various initiatives into a cohesive whole. The right choice of technology platform and tools can provide both the speed and flexibility required in a fast-changing environment.
Digital innovation, the low-code way
As digital innovation increases and more companies embrace digitization of their operations, the need for professional developers/coders has increased rapidly. Low-code application development platforms (LCAPs) have emerged as an attractive model for businesses looking to lessen the workload on professional coders and instead enable their business professionals and citizen developers to take a more active role in application development. With a low-code development platform, they can automate core business processes, configure simple workflows, and handle the management/analytics of business data.
In a fast-changing digital landscape, LCAPs offer companies the ability to launch digital innovation measures 10x times faster than those powered by traditional programming. Reliance on software programmers is greatly reduced, and business managers can choose to get their programs developed entirety using these LCAP tools.
Low-code/no-code platform adoption is gaining sizeable traction, and is predicted to become a mainstay for business digitization of tomorrow.
In fact, according to Gartner, low-code app development will account for 65% of all app development activity by 2024.
Here’s a quick breakdown on how low-code platforms can help aid digitization:
● Centralized enterprise data
Low-code platforms, are usually cloud-based, allowing you to store all your business data in secure, encrypted data centers. Platforms like Zoho Creator take a structured approach to organizing your business-wide data, supporting fast and secure data migrations from your legacy databases, helping orchestrate complex data operations, and deploying relationships across different data entities in an intuitive manner.
● Organization-wide automation
Most low-code platforms support configuration and deployment of business process automations through a visual workflow designer. Zoho Creator’s development interface helps you automate routine transactions and digital operations at scale with just a few curated drags and drops. Zoho’s proprietary, user-friendly business programming language, Deluge, helps deploy complex automations with ease and with no prior programming experience.
● Empowered citizen developers
Digital transformation endeavors often go astray due to the asymmetry in information between business users and technical developers. Technical developers’ lack of understanding of specific business objectives and outcomes, coupled with business users’ limited understanding of technology is key to this dissonance. Low-code platforms empower business developers to manage digitization end-to-end, without you having to break a sweat!
● Best-of-breed architecture
While single-vendor, integrated solutions offer higher interoperability, their implementation can be both time and cost intensive. Due diligence in identifying the right vendor is paramount, as this often involves a sizeable risk and the termination of several existing business systems to accommodate the vendor’s full suite. However, best-of-breed solutions help businesses achieve cost efficiency and give more room to stitch together a digital ecosystem that truly reflects their business. Zoho Creator offers out-of-the-box integrations with 300+ applications/platforms for quick, tight integrations.
● Accelerated time to market
Low-code platforms help accelerate application development and deployment. The cost of maintenance has also proven to be lower than traditionally built applications in many cases. This becomes a critical factor in the business success of market-facing applications. Zoho Creator’s intuitive platform helps users build and deploy applications 10x faster than traditional software development approaches.
● High interoperability
This is a benefit that’s unique to Zoho Creator’s low-code platform, which is powered by our very own, business-user-friendly programming language, Deluge. Deluge also forms the core of Zoho’s suite of 50+ business applications that cater to the digitization and automation of nearly every walk of your business. This means that with Zoho Creator you can harness the potential of all your Zoho products, bringing you that much closer to digital success.
● Stakeholder management
Online client portals are secure application gateways designed to provide customers, vendors, and partners with a single point of access to a company’s products, services, and information. Zoho Creator’s stakeholder portals simplify the way line-of-business apps are shared and used by people, both inside and outside your organization, making it essential for any market-facing application that caters to more than a single target segment.
● Hassle-free operations
Low-code platforms are conceived and built to let you focus on building business apps without having to deal with any backend operation, infrastructure, or maintenance woes. You don’t have to buy and maintain servers, troubleshoot hardware, run software patches, or perform upgrades. Zoho Creator’s servers are hosted on private, geographically distributed, fully-encrypted data centers that assure 100% security and transparency in how your data is stored and managed, while assuring 99.9% uptime!
About Zoho Creator
Zoho Creator is an industry accredited, low-code application development platform that helps you streamline, centralize, and modernize business data, processes, and digital infrastructure, without requiring any prior programming know-how. Recognized as a Visionary in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Low-Code Application Development Platforms, for 2020, Zoho Creator provides you with endless possibilities in terms of the functionality that you want to digitize. Be it customer service apps, accounting and invoicing, or project management, Zoho Creator offers a module for every business need.
With its easy-to-use, drag-and-drop visual elements, Zoho Creator helps both business users and programmers, and has the versatility to handle complex workflows with intricate conditions and triggers. Zoho Creator enables you to connect to every piece of software you use, and run your business from a single integrated platform. It helps you draw data from multiple sources—databases, APIs, legacy ERPs, and cloud services—and presents insightful web and mobile-ready dashboards, on the go. In fact, 95% of customers have been able to successfully implement using Zoho Creator within a month!
While a low-code platform is not the be-all and end-all to digital innovation, it qualifies as a bare essential for businesses looking to accelerate their digital innovation endeavor in a structured, scalable, and time-tested manner.
The opportunity to make digital innovation central to your business strategy is yours for the taking!