Why Transformation and Innovation are Important To Understand in Small Business

02/23/2017 08:49 am ET

Transformation and innovation are often used interchangeably, but in the digital world they are as different as cats and dogs. Radical transformation leads directly to new innovation. Innovation creates disruptive transformation. While synergistically linked, there’s an important distinction that every business leader needs to understand.

What’s the diff?

Speed is a key differentiator. Transformation occurs over a much slower time frame than innovation, often taking months or years. Innovation happens suddenly, and its impact is felt immediately in the marketplace. It’s the difference between a slow-burning fire and a spark.

Most often, as a result of planning, collaboration, and execution, innovation comes first. Arising from innovation comes transformation.

An example of the dynamics between transformation and innovation is the phenomenon of digital transformation. Digital transformation describes business practices used by organizations to improve profitability through upgrading core technology. The goal of this strategy is to lengthen a company’s brand stride while nurturing a growth-minded ROI. As new technology constantly upends the old, leading-edge business leaders capitalized on digital transformation strategies to gain market share and stay ahead of the competition.

Disruption through innovation

Innovation turns ideas into reality. Consider how the marketing industry was completely disrupted with the emergence of social media. Distance is now completely irrelevant to communication and with so many channels, information is distributed more widely than ever before. As is the case with most innovations, societal disruptions like this are yet to be fully understood—or exploited.

In this brave new world, every business practice must be constantly reimagined to stay viable. All assumptions are subject to review and debate. The sign of a healthy business process is the fact that it can be reimagined over and over again to fit new goals, purposes, and technologies as they evolve. Social media, for example, is not a static concept, but one that continues to change through innovation.

Social media platforms allow brands to continuously provide consumers with opportunities to connect in real and meaningful ways. A driving factor in selecting a brand can be a consumer’s desire to positively impact the world through supporting the brand’s larger social initiatives. In light of this, social media was the innovation which led to transformation in both the kinds and ways organizations connect with their customers.

Improvement through innovation

One company that capitalizes on innovation is Apple. Their strategies include constantly updating their products with the latest conceptual technology, like call tracking software, which keeps them on their industry’s leading edge. This dedication to innovation continues to build their bottom-line as they establish new benchmarks of customer satisfaction, brand recognition, and real time profitability.

As innovative technology responds to consumer demands, paradigm shifts are becoming the norm. It’s no longer enough to stay competitive; every brand that wants to thrive must constantly think outside of the box—and consider viable alternatives before the competition. This benefits consumers immensely. Innovation leads to better products—and usually at lower prices.

Markets evolve through transformation

The impact of business transformation cannot be overstated. Cycles of reconfiguration, revision, and optimization continue to occur at a rapidly increasing rate. The greatest and most recognizable brands in the world today use transforming innovation to benefit both customers and their own corporate strategies. Companies such as Amazon, Apple, Dell, IBM, Cisco, and Microsoft are recognized leaders in the transformative technology race for customer satisfaction and retention. Savvy business leaders would be wise to keep an eye on the trails they’re blazing.

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