Wednesday, June 01, 2016

THE NEW WORLD OF INNOVATION

innovationThe term “innovation” is sweeping the corporate world today. Suddenly there are Chief Innovation Officers, Directors of Innovation and the like, at many large companies and, perhaps predominantly, in the Fortune 1000. 

Also, an innovation industry is developing, with innovation consulting firms helping corporate heads of innovation meet the developmental challenges they are all facing. What is behind all this? Why is it happening now? And what role should communications play in telling the innovation story? 

First, what does innovation mean? My own definition is this: developing something new that did not exist before, and thereby disrupting the traditional order. 

We are living through a period where technology has matured and is speeding up the rate of innovation, changing almost everything and where it is applied. Apple set the tone and may be at the foundation of what is energizing the entire movement. Yesterday it was Spotify and Netflix. Today it is Uber and Airbnb. Amazon and Google are moving at breakneck speed. This drive for the new is putting pressure on all companies, regardless of industry, to look into the future, examine its processes, its products and services, and its talent profiles to ensure they are not only keeping pace but advancing their entire program. 

At Makovsky, our SKYLABS company is developing transformative and disruptive concepts, products, and solutions for a range of clients in different industries. We see innovation as a way of getting ahead of the competition, and the communications industry could put itself in a leading position by driving its clients to confront this area, if they have not, and edge them into “innovation actions” including telling their innovation stories. 

Although I do not have surveys to prove it, I bet consumers prefer innovative companies that develop life-changing products (e.g., the iPhone), in the same way that they prefer companies that support socially responsible causes. We know that consumers prefer companies that make a difference. And our challenge as communicators is to tell brand building stories that attract new customers and build credibility. 

We are not just communicators…we must be strategists that move our clients into the innovation space. That way, we can responsibly build their reputation as innovators, as developments occur, benefiting and attracting their own employees, new recruits and last but certainly not least, their customers. In that way, we as public relations professionals will play a key role in driving progress and impacting the future. We will help fulfill consumer needs and simultaneously deliver business value and growth. And at bottom we will tell the corporate story of how and why these new innovative ideas really matter to each of their targets.