Innovation needs to happen at every level

For some time now, innovations have not been limited to the development of good products or services. Today, the notion of capacity for innovation compared to the competition prevails at all levels of a company.

According to this definition, innovations can be divided into three categories:

1. Innovation to the benefit of the customer

The most effective changes are those that offer customers benefits, whether current or future. Customers are more receptive to new products when these products represent a clearly identifiable improvement for the customer.

It is important for the customer’s genuine requirements to be correctly identified: does the innovation actually meet the customer’s needs or is it just presumed that the innovation will be useful to the customer?

Correctly assessing the customer’s requirements is a vital but tricky task at times. Engineers or entrepreneurs are often so convinced about an idea that they have developed or about a marketing idea that they forget to seek confirmation from their customer base.

2. Process innovations

Process innovations refer to optimization of the process for production of the service and/or good, and not the service or good itself. Process innovations help the company organize operating processes (equipment or IT) efficiently and creatively. ‘Process’ is understood as the continuation (from inputs through to the end product, via the intermediary phase) of tasks carried out within a company for the production of a service and/or good.

The goal of process innovation is increased productivity (relationship between the result of the process and the intermediary period). The company wants to manufacture quality products at the lowest possible production cost. These goals are influenced by process optimization. Innovations can also contribute to improving reliability and reducing raw materials and/or energy requirements.

3. Sociocultural innovation

Products and processes are not the only things subject to innovation. In the area of human resources, the aforementioned corporate innovations are also necessary. For example, when a company sets itself the goal of becoming the employer of innovative employees or of promoting its employees in their field.

Company objectives:

  • Increased work satisfaction
  • Reduced fluctuations
  • Better protection against accidents and safety in the work place
  • Encouragement of creativity
  • Promotion of employees’ entrepreneurial attitude

It is difficult to measure cultural innovations. For example, to what extent is it possible to ascertain whether identification of employees with the company in relation to their objectives, has increased? Reference points may be established by employee surveys:

  • Better protection against accidents and safety in the work place
  • Reduced employee turnover
  • Reduced absences
  • Reduced rate of accidents and deaths

Innovations within the organization are called structural innovations, which means the improvements to the operational and developmental organization of the company. Organizational innovations make it possible to achieve:

  • “hard” goals such as reduced costs, improved quality and increased productivity;
  • “soft” goals such as increased job satisfaction, a better work atmosphere and increased employee creativity.

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Last modification 28.08.2018

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