To take innovation to a new level, you need to harness information technology in a way that actually simplifies things and produces real-world results for real people.
By Samuel Greengard
Innovation is a funny thing. It takes guts to take a chance. Hence, we watch the same boring plots in movies over and over again. We see the same mediocre products recycled and reincarnated ad infinitum. Companies eke out enough profits until they don't. This continues until someone pushes forward with a semi-original idea. Then, it's a stampede to copy the originality.
In business, we see this scenario play out every day. Very few companies innovate. Many simply wait until the market matures enough that it's safe to wade in. Sometimes this strategy works well. But in an era of swift and constant change, playing it safe is often dangerous. It's a recipe for irrelevance.
Even small steps toward innovation matter. For example, Hilton Worldwide just announced that it will roll out a mobile-based check-in platform with room selection tools and smartphone-based room keys. The system will also let guests purchase upgrades and place requests through the app.
Remarkably, the concept isn't new, but Hilton is the first major hospitality company to go live with such comprehensive next-gen mobile tools. It will introduce the technology over the coming months and the company says it will have the system operating across 4,000 hotels by the end of 2014.
Likewise, museums, such as Ruben's House in Antwerp, Belgium, have introduced Apple's iBeacon technology to create a more interactive environment. It's possible to view contextual information about exhibits while strolling through a gallery. Restaurants, such as Mook Group in Germany, are also turning to iBeacon to track customers, including identifying their favorite table, what dishes they prefer and how long they spend in the restaurant. The restaurant chain will use the system with its loyalty program.
Unfortunately, a vast swath of industry is moving way too slowly for its own good. Many CIOs—and other business leaders—are adopting a wait-and-watch mentality and, in the process, surrendering any chance to achieve a competitive advantage and brand superiority.
Here's the thing: if you want to take innovation to a new level you don't have to reinvent an industry or remap the future of the business. You don't have to be Airbnb, Uber or Zipcar. You simply need to focus on how to pull together information technology in a way that actually simplifies things and produces real results for real people. Keep your customers satisfied and the business will likely thrive.
About the Author
Samuel Greengard is a contributing writer for CIO Insight. To read his previous CIO Insight blog post, "In Pursuit of Digital Talent," click here.