I saw this fantastic idea and piece of design on the Yanko Design website recently. It’s a clock that you simply tilt on order to change to – or from – Daylight Savings time. No need to fiddle with a tiny wheel at the back, or buy one of those ugly-looking clocks that automatically adjust their time from a radio signal. A wonderful example of User Experience. Clearly someone took the time to think about the problem, and proposed a solution that’s both elegant and novel.
It’s a great application of adding a new twist to everyday object. Or should that be ’tilt’ instead of ‘twist’…
The Second Mouse Gets The Cheese
Innovation in business can be seen as the ultimate goal, or the road to failure. There’s a saying in business: “The early bird may catch the worm, but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese.” The concept of taking someone else’s idea and refining it further is the mainstay of business. There’s often little profit in being first.
Why? Because being first means creating a market for something that currently doesn’t have one.
It requires the audience already be aware, and educated to the problem the innovation is designed to address. A problem that, quite often, the audience doesn’t even know they had. Only once your audience has been educated to the existence of the problem, and that your product/service addresses that problem, will anyone contemplate buying from you.
Not only is that a tough gig, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll recoup the money you’ve spent educating the market. There’s not even a guarantee that you’ll still be in business once the audience has woken-up to your idea, and is prepared to beat a path to your door.
So if being first-to-market is fraught with danger, is business innovation today about doing what someone else is doing, but somehow ‘better’?
Business Innovation Is More Than “Me-Too”
Personally, I don’t think so. Today, however, prospective customers want more than just your version of someone else’s idea. There’s little room for “me-too”. To build a creditable business value offering means innovating. The audience needs to know – and feel – that you’re providing something special. Something that marketers would call “added value.” Something that your audience is already familiar with, but done in a different way. Your way.
Maybe that business innovation is taking someone else’s idea and moving it to the next level – as was the case with the Apple iPad, LED lightbulbs or bread that comes pre-sliced. Or maybe it’s introducing a disruptive technology or product. Or maybe it’s producing a clock that you tilt to change the time by an hour.
What’s your innovation? Why should your customers buy from you and no-one else?