Frugal Innovation Supports Customer-Obsessed Innovation

Dan Bieler

Photo: Indian By Design

The age of the customer demands that businesses drive innovation at ever faster speeds and with limited budgets. More than ever, innovation is of the essence, and innovation must be cost-effective. Frugal innovation offers an alternative approach to driving innovation as it is based on the tenet to do “more with less” in contrast to the widespread practice to increase the R&D budget. Frugal innovation:

  • Opens opportunities to cater to people “at the bottom of the pyramid.” Traditional R&D often ignores those customers with lower purchasing power. Frugal innovation specifically targets this customer segment, opening up opportunities for new revenue streams.
  • Is complimentary to traditional R&D, not a substitute. Frugal innovation will not replace traditional innovation, but it will add a new approach to drive innovation.
  • Requires a change of mindset and a different approach to innovation. The frugal innovator’s mindset sees constraints not as a disadvantage, but an opportunity. Frugal innovation supports and furthers a mindset for global innovative collaboration.
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Innovation Management Solutions Push Innovation That Creates Both Change And Value

Dan Bieler

Source: The Forrester Wave™: Innovation Management Solutions, Q2 2016

Innovation that only creates change is just that — change. When we asked firms about their major business objectives, 37% claim that product and service innovation is central to their business transformation.

But old-style innovation will be very tough to maintain. To exploit business value from digital technologies, innovation managers need to increasingly think in open ecosystems, open standards, open platforms, and open source software. Digital innovation equals service innovation, which in turn requires a willingness to experiment and engage in minimal-viable-product thinking, because:

  • As customers’ demand changes more quickly, innovation cycles must get shorter. Fast software innovation will “eat” slow hardware innovation given the ever greater role that software plays for today’s business value creation. An innovation management solution supports decision sessions and real-time voting and collaboration to quickly validate or gauge the interest of organizational priorities in short sessions. Organizations need to be willing to fail fast, be able to work iteratively on product and service improvements, run idea experiments based on soft-launches, and get feedback on innovation efforts via external feedback loops quickly.
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