Innovation in Emerging Markets

Innovation as a Game Changer

Success for businesses in the 21st century depends on how well they innovate and move up the value chain. Innovation is the meeting of existing and unmet customer needs by providing solutions that enhance customer value.

Innovation is derived from the Latin word innovates which means renew or to change. Innovation is all about using a novel or better technique or process to actualize solutions. Whereas invention refers to the aspect of the idea or the product, innovation refers to the method of actualizing it.

The innovative approach allows businesses to approach new and existing problems from a fresh perspective and gives them the advantage of solving the problems in a better way than their competitors solve.

Further, as Albert Einstein remarked, problems cannot be solved from the same consciousness from which they have been created. This means that there is a need for a fresh look at the problems that businesses and societies face and use newer methods to solve them. This is where the innovativeness of the businesses in deploying innovation is so important.

The fact that businesses can reap the benefits of innovation is apparent from the way in which leading innovators like 3M and Google apart from Apple have flourished over the years.


Innovation, Invention and their uses

The other aspect about innovation is that it results in creation of value for the customers that is at the heart of all customer-focused strategies.

The traditional emphasis on solving problems using a mechanistic fashion has resulted in many problems being unsolved because the 21st century business landscape is all about creative and inventive problem solving that utilizes nonlinear thinking and out of the box ideas to solve the problems. This is where innovation with its emphasis on a newer and better way of solving problems is so important for businesses. This is also the reason why innovation can become a game changer for businesses in the 21st century.

By taking a fresh look at the problem and viewing it using new lens and a newer way of solving it, innovation can help businesses break free of the rut they are in and instead, rejuvenate and revitalize them.

For instance, if we take the example of an automobile, consumers are no longer looking for a newer version of the automobile but something that can enhance the value that they derive from it.

Innovation in Emerging Markets

The third aspect about innovation is that it can become a game changer for businesses in emerging markets letting them bypass the lack of infrastructure and basic services. For instance, many developing countries lack basic facilities where people have to do with minimal comforts. However, the rapid spread of mobile technologies has meant that many emerging markets have surmounted the problems by leaping onto the innovation curve.

The farmers, traders, and workers in these countries use their mobiles for everything ranging from communication to placing orders and tracking inventory apart from dealing directly with the consumers and eliminating the intermediaries. In this manner, innovation can help the developing countries solve intractable problems and let them jump onto the bandwagon of growth and success.

The example cited here is of businesses like Bharti Telecom and Vodafone engaging with the Indian, Chinese, and African customers to provide them with mobile telephony. This lets the power shift to the consumers away from the intermediaries and the intermediaries by letting direct interactions between the farmers and the consumers, which facilitates the setting of price that is fair to both parties.

Concluding Remarks

Finally, businesses have a role to play in performing an enabling and empowering function in fostering innovation. This means that not only can innovation change the rules of the game for businesses; it can also fulfill the social responsibilities of businesses towards society and create a win-win situation for all stakeholders.

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