3 Ways Mid-Market Companies Can Innovate

If you are a mid-market CEO, you need to be concerned about innovation. If you’re like most mid-market CEOs outside of the technology industry, you’re probably concerned that your core product(s) are or are becoming a commodity where price is dictated by the market. As a result, these you have internal cost pressure while profit growth has slowed or is starting to decline. New competitors are entering the market, competitors are taking your business, and/or consolidation is happening because scale is the only way to get better business results. Innovation is the way out of this dilemma. Here are three ways mid-market companies can be more innovative.

Innovate!Look at Consumer Products

Consumer product innovation happens at an amazing pace. Think about any product, even a commodity – for example, toothbrushes. The toothbrush itself is very basic, a handle with bristles. But with clever innovation, the toothbrush became more than just a plain old piece of plastic. Bristles were produced in different colors and lengths, handles became different shapes, battery operated toothbrushes were introduced. These days, kids listen to hit music in their heads, played by a toothbrush!

Now think about your products: what features or functions can you change? If you sell flowers in pots, make the pots stand out, perhaps the pot can be a different shape or a brighter color than your competition. If you make industrial products, create a distinguishing feature such as the shape and color. Your objective is to make your product more innovative than your competitor’s so it will stand out in the market.

Create Product Roadmaps

Technology companies at the very front end of the innovation process are continually updating their product roadmaps, always searching for new ways to improve their products and services. The search could be done by their own R&D organization, by partnering with startups, or by simply buying key technology components. All the companies that make mobile phones – Apple, LG, Samsung, etc. – have roadmaps that span years into the future. When you buy that phone in the store, you are getting a product that was conceived at least 18 months before.

Do you have product or service roadmaps? Once you identify what features or functions you can change, determine how much investment you need and an approximate ROI. If the financials make sense, then figure out how long it will take you to implement that change. Focus a small team to produce the new features and functions. Build on the first change, making your product or service roadmap into a guide for years to come. Consistent review and updating of the roadmap must be on your management agenda.

Value-Add Services

Product and service companies are often one and the same. The service often takes the lead role in creating value, especially when the product is a commodity. There are hundreds of examples all around you – just look for them! Enterprise Car Rental will “pick you up.” You buy an iPhone from Apple, and then you need iTunes and the app store to go with it. A local store or restaurant gift card is a service that helps you give a gift and helps the store with cash flow and more customers.

Are you creating new value-added services? Just like a product roadmap, services improve your connection to the customer, create repeat business, and generate new revenue streams. The internet makes services easier and more affordable to offer services than ever before. For example, if you sell or rent industrial equipment, connect your equipment to the internet to track usage, then sell customers monitoring services and predictive maintenance plans. Think about the information you have about your customers or the industries you serve and leverage that information to develop a value-added service.

DataKey Difference: Strategy is directly connected to tactical planning to ensure successful implementation. Generate inspiration towards a profitable and sustainable future for your company through innovation.  DataKey has the tools and experience your company needs to create effective strategies to help you creative innovative products and services, specifically tailored to your company’s industry, products and customers. With DataKey as part of your team, make innovation a top priority and start building towards your potential today.

DataKey Featured in 2013 Westchester Economic Development Guide

DataKey in the 2013 Westchester Economic Development GuideDataKey Consulting was featured on Page 14 of the 2013 Westchester Economic Development Guide presented in partnership by the Business Council of Westchester, Westchester County Executive’s Office, and Westchester County Office of Economic Development.

DataKey President Ted Miller commented on the crucial importance of infrastructure – both the brick-and-mortar variety and the intangible networks of personal connections – towards building a strong business community.  Lucky for local business owners, Westchester has both in spades!

Read more in the full article here (PDF).