Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb. Someone else turned the lightbulb into a fluorescent lamp.

Graham Bell invented the telephone. Steve Jobs introduced the world to the first iPhone.

Friedrich Greiner is credited to have founded the world's first motorized taxi company in Stuttgart, Germany. Uber created a digital platform that met the supply and demand of transportation within the city.

Look around you. New ideas and products are being created on a daily basis to transform the way we navigate through daily life.

Some of them are inventions - a brand new idea, concept, or product that the world hasn’t seen before. Some, are innovations. Transforming existing ideas, concepts, or products and presenting them in a brand new manner to society.

Now, this isn’t to say innovation and invention are interchangeable. Don’t make that mistake.

They are, however, complementary. As is clear from the examples above, inventions can lead to innovations. But, innovations, too, can lead to new inventions.

Simply put, innovation is nothing but the process of turning an already existing idea into a product or a service to create value.

This process could very well lead to new breakthroughs that the world hasn’t witnessed before. Or, it could also be something as simple as an upgrade to an existing product or service.

While this sounds attractive, the question is - why innovate in the first place? There are tons of businesses out there running smoothly using age-old methods. They haven’t created anything new for years, nor do they plan to.

So, is innovation really necessary? Let the next section shed light on it.

Why Businesses Need to Innovate (and How it Can be Done)

Where there’s competition, there’s innovation. And, today’s competitive market commands innovative techniques like never before.

Companies today are constantly working towards finding newer, more efficient ways to do things. Whether its in-house operations, product development, environmental issues, or employee/customer retention - if there’s no transformation, businesses run the risk of becoming obsolete.

You don’t always have to invent the wheel. But, if you keep redefining your methods, operations, and services, you have a better chance of setting yourself apart from your competitors.

Constantly innovating lets you:

1. Find creative solutions

      Companies can no longer afford to just think about generating revenue. They also need to constantly work towards finding more efficient, creative ways to solve problems.

      Think about edible spoons - now that’s putting a brand new spin on the age ol’ spoon! A restaurant realized that they were using a truckload of plastic to deliver food to their customers. So, they figured out a way to reduce the consumption of plastic by creating edible spoons. Not only did this solution help them stand out in the market, but also, it was a more sustainable way of operating their business.

      So, in order to find creative solutions for problems, it is essential to first open up your mind. Do that by reading more, keeping up with the latest trends, and applying all the creative thinking you have to get ahead of the curve.

      2. Increase productivity

            Tracking all your customer activity on an Excel sheet all this while? Ever heard of a CRM (customer relationship management) tool? You can either design your own (one that specifically meets your business’ expectations), or choose one of the many available tools in the market.

            Upgrading your operations by means of technology can, in no time, boost your overall company productivity statistics. In fact, according to a study by Ultimate Software, 92% of employees believe that the right technology at their disposal helps them do their job efficiently, and ultimately, leads to higher work satisfaction.

            Now, this isn’t creating something new from scratch. It’s just an idea - an idea that, when executed, could lead to magical things in the organization.

            Test new tools from time to time, and figure out your own combination of ideas that lead to higher productivity that actually works for your company.

            3. Reduce costs

              A mini manufacturing factory that employs 25 people to do a job could save massive amounts of cash if it considered just automating the process.

              A company that’s always drowned in paperwork - literally - could consider creating paperless systems that reduce a ton of waste, and in turn, help the environment.

              Cost innovation is nothing new, and this process involves a lot of creative thinking on a business’ part. However, if done efficiently, it can give birth to tons of new ideas that can lead to better output on a company’s part.

              You may not be building a new product or a service here - but you will be introducing some killer features or functions that will help save the company significant costs in the long run.

              4. Gain competitive advantage

                Imagine incorporating innovation into your business strategy, designing a work culture that encourages everyone in the company to come up with new ideas from time to time, and building processes to support them.

                Isn’t that a great start already towards gaining a competitive edge? Constantly thinking of and executive newer, better ways to design your products or communicate with your customers puts you way ahead of the competition.

                This way, you also upgrade your marketing efforts and position yourself in the market in a manner that’s way ahead of your competition.

                To summarize…

                Take inspiration from the businesses that have created great strides by constantly reinventing themselves and reassessing their ways. Apple may have introduced a slew of products over the years, but when it comes to their flagship product - the iPhone - they simply keep innovating there by adding trending features to it.

                While the core idea remains the same, it is their constant upgrades that enables them to stay the darlings of the tech savvy.

                Whether it’s a startup or an established firm, innovation can be achieved as long as you:

                - Never stop improving upon what you’re already good at.

                - Foster a work culture that promotes innovation.

                - Stay curious and invite new ideas to take shape in your business.

                - Listen closely to your customers and figure out unique, never-done-before ways to meet their requirements.

                - Seek inspiration from people that are not from your industry. Sometimes, the people that are from a different work culture are the ones that influence you rather than those from your own.

                  Think you’re an innovator? Prepare to disrupt the world with your innovative ideas and abilities with NICMAR’s two-year program in Entrepreneurship & Innovation.

                  The only program in Entrepreneurship & Innovation that offers the flexibility of two modes - PGD in EI and MBA in EI - this program is based on the Formation, Validation, and Growth (FVG) model.