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An Accept customer, David Wagner from Solution Labs, was recently kind enough to share his experiences in innovation in a webinar and press release as well as a guest blog here today on The Innovation Jam. Solution Labs delivers analysis and reporting solutions that enable organizations to make intelligent forward-looking decisions on capacity planning and performance of IT. They’ve been able to triple revenues, boost productivity 25 percent and beat out much larger competitors.
In a recent post Hari referred to innovation as a sort of ubiquitous religion in the high-tech field. Like religion, there’s hundreds if not thousands of different variations and each individual company or person finds their own way.
So let me start out by saying I’m not here to push our methodology for innovation on others.
Our company is exclusively focused on capacity management, but we compete against much larger companies – some are even more than 100 times our size. So for smaller companies like us, it’s a story of David & Goliath, except we’re competing against a dozen giants that are up to 100 stories tall. We have only two advantages: we are highly focused in a way our competitors are not. And the other is that we are far more nimble and adaptive to our customers, and the markets, evolving requirements.
Having only a small fraction of the development resources of our competitors, we simply have to be faster, smarter and more responsive. Accept360™ has helped us do that for almost 3 years now, so I welcomed the opportunity to share our innovation tips on their blog, because all of these are things their software has really helped facilitate in our own company.
Innovation is a Race
I understand Accept’s CEO sometimes refers to the time element of innovation as “failing faster”. What this means is that some products or product features will be a success and others won’t, but if it takes you a year to develop the product, you’ve already failed. Someone else will create that product first.
If we waited every two years or so for a product release, our company would be dead in the water. Leap-frogging over competitors on a bi-annual schedule just to let them catch up before the next release is a quick way to find yourself in quick sand.
That’s the old model.
We don't "fail faster", we know in advance what is required, for whom it is required, and why. Our bite-sized innovation allows us to constantly test the market, get feedback from customers and keep our development focused on the things customers will value. We’re analytical and intelligent about our next moves, but we also don’t hesitate for long. You'll see more of this in some exciting developments in the very near future.
Innovation is a Process
As much as innovation is about technical achievements, out-of-the box thinking and creativity, it’s a daily business process to improve marketable technologies in a way that will make them more appealing to existing and prospective customers. Companies have to stop thinking of R&D as a mad-scientist lab where breakthroughs occur at random or based on how much funding you provide and institutionalize the entire process.
Institutionalizing that process will not only streamline the use of resources, but root out bias and quickly identify what customers really want. In the last 18 months, we grew revenues over 200 percent and released three major releases and several point releases without increasing staff. Accept360™ helped our developers spend less time tracking and prioritizing requirements and more time creating the features customers asked for.
Align your Company
A lot of academic work on leadership shows that great leaders are ones that can align the people that work under them with a common goal. Part of institutionalizing the process of innovation is also institutionalizing the process for making sure those doing the innovating, the business managers leading the company and your customers, are all on the same boat, steering in the right direction.
- David Wagner, Solution Labs