Innovate or Perish

Innovate or perish!
By Roger La Salle

As a speaker on innovation at this year’s Professional Conference Organisers event in November, it may be timely to reiterate the need for innovation in all types of business.

To give some context; in a book entitled Creating Wealth by MIT professor Lester Thurow the alarming statistic was revealed that whereas in the 1920’s the life expectancy of a US based business was some 65 years, by the 1990’s this had fallen to less than ten years!

The fact is that no matter what business you are in you can be sure if it is highly profitable others will soon enter the market. Market saturation will inevitably occur and profits will be eroded to somewhere near bank interest rates. Consequently if bank rates rise significantly the marginal players or those with excessive overheads will ultimately succumb.

Classic examples of market saturation have been in the proliferation of Petrol stations, and of course the once highly profitable Convenience Stores that have now popped up on almost every shopping strip. In the future as convenience stores move to beat the competition by changing the model, you can be sure that ultimately some will move to a “drive through” service to offer more of what they do well, “provide convenience.”

Being “Number One” is no safeguard
In the past Boeing dominated the passenger aircraft business but now plays second fiddle to Airbus Industries. Airbus may now be leader, but what lies ahead as the Chinese work to develop their own aircraft manufacturing business? In the future, if not already, China will be the largest market for airliners with strong nationalistic instincts motivating them to buy locally.

In the past the big speaking agencies were highly profitable with a well tried and true business model – the commissioned selling of speakers. But now, even the speaking agency business is becoming saturated with new players entering the market at every turn, all working hard to be number one on Google. Perhaps the time has come to explore some new initiatives in this arena and do better at providing and delivering what these businesses see as core business.

The bottom line is that as a businessperson if you are not aware that this saturation scenario will transpire, you may be ignoring the obvious and perhaps failing to explore innovations that can set you apart from the pack.

So it is with little doubt that conference organisers should be asking, what is it they can do to set themselves apart and be the most sought after agency? Be assured, there is always a better way!

Innovation and Opportunity Capture are systematic processes!
The answer of course lies in innovation and the systematic search for opportunities in your business space and to plot the trajectory of your industry over time to anticipate the future.
As a means to achieve this we can use a form of systematic thinking rather than the abstraction of pure creativity that should perhaps be more confined to the performing arts.

Accurately and systematically applied, a structured innovation approach will naturally yield the outcomes necessary to provide business insights to shape long-term sustainability.

Change or be ready to fall by the wayside
One thing is sure, if you fail to embrace the art of innovation and change, your future will be at great risk. New players will enter the market and poach your customers by presenting them different or improved models or perhaps just better pricing, this being the ultimate business killer as you “race to the bottom”.

Innovate or Perish, that’s the overriding need of businesses today, but how many of us are really doing it?

Roger La Salle, is the creator of the “Matrix Thinking”™ technique and is widely sought after as an international speaker on Innovation, Opportunity and business development. He is the author of four books, Director and former CEO of the Innovation Centre of Victoria (INNOVIC) as well as a number of companies both in Australian and overseas. He has been responsible for a number of successful technology start-ups and in 2004 was a regular panellist on the ABC New Inventors TV program. In 2005 he was appointed to the “Chair of Innovation” at “The Queens University” in Belfast. Matrix Thinking is now used in more than 26 countries and licensed to Deloitte, one of the world’s largest consulting firms. www.matrixthinking.com

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