Although the pandemic results have been catastrophic in many ways, it’s important to remember that massive periods of transformation also pave the way for innovation. Around 90% of executives say they expect the pandemic to change the way they do business for at least five years. Over three-quarters of all leaders also said the pandemic would create new growth opportunities.
Here’s how companies can continue to innovate post-pandemic.
Use Customer Insights to Discover Opportunities
One of the biggest changes to transpire during the last couple of years has been the transition to more “digital” channels for customer service and sales. While this landscape has taken some getting used to, it also represents new opportunities in insights and analytics from digital interactions.
Over the last year, you’ve likely collected a lot of information from your customers and about your audience. Use what you know about your customer’s needs, competitors, and your changing marketplace to determine where your new strategy for innovation should begin.
For instance, if you noticed during the pandemic people were looking for faster delivery speeds and better order tracking when buying products online, build on that trend in the years ahead.
The most effective strategies for growth will start by pinpointing a significant customer need or pain point and working backward to find the technology that might help. Having a specific issue you want to address will also make it easier to measure the potential gain for your business and customers.
Foster a Culture of Innovation
Innovation in any business requires a well-connected team full of people with different perspectives and insights. As you move forward into the new world of post-pandemic business, make sure your employees are equipped with everything they need to keep sharing their ideas and perspectives.
First, make sure to properly engage your employees at every step of the way. Remember, only around 41% of employees were actively engaged during 2020. It’s often difficult for staff to stay focused during difficult times. To keep staff engaged going forward, you’ll need to make sure you’re constantly communicating with your teams, offering recognition, and responding to their needs.
Once the right strategy is in place for engagement, enable strong communication through various channels like video, audio, and chat, so teams can constantly come together and collaborate on new ideas. You can also encourage active innovation by bringing employees together for group meetings to brainstorm solutions to problems.
Make sure everyone has a way to share their ideas with the group — even if they want to submit suggestions anonymously, and never undermine an idea.
Create a Feedback Loop
One of the biggest lessons the pandemic has taught us is that every company can benefit from being more flexible and agile. If you want to identify and leverage the future of innovation, then you need to be willing to experiment and change direction from time to time.
The best way to determine when it might be time to implement a change is to develop strategies for collecting information about your audience, your market, and your team. Encourage your staff members to provide feedback on how you can improve their remote working experience or help them to feel more supported in a new age of work.
Keep an eye on your industry and use tracking tools to monitor conversations that employees or other businesses might have about your brand. Don’t forget to watch your competition too — they can offer an insight into opportunities you’re missing. Give your customers a way to give their insights and feedback too. Host polls asking your clients about the most important new features they’d like to see in your product or what kind of issues they’re facing in the current environment. This will help you to better understand what your customer needs so that you can adapt accordingly.
The more data you collect, the more you can ensure any future innovation investments you make are going to deliver the right ROI.
Crowdsourcing ideas from a diverse group of experts can significantly contribute to your business innovation success.
However, not all businesses have the resources and software to implement crowdsourcing campaigns on a large scale. IdeaScale can solve such problems and help you implement crowdsourcing campaigns that are sure to bring your business to the next level.
Keep Your Eye on the Future
During a crisis, like the 2020 pandemic, many companies shift their focus to responding to the current environment and “surviving” any changes that might emerge. While it’s important to respond in an agile way to changes in your industry, you also need to make sure you’re not stuck in the “reactive” phase for too long. Eventually, you need to get to the point where you can begin predicting the future and creating trends rather than responding to them.
The information you collect from your feedback loops will help with this, as will a certain capacity for risk. You’ll need to be prepared to make changes from time to time and learn from your customer’s response. Encourage all of your team to take the same approach. The more you look ahead of the current trends, the more likely it is that you’ll end up one step in front of the competition.
Innovating in a post-pandemic world might seem like a daunting prospect. Many companies are struggling to simply survive the changes happening in their industry.
If that’s the case for you, it might feel like you don’t have the capacity to be creative and pioneering right now.
However, with the tips above, you can encourage ongoing innovation from your team and boost your chances of long-term growth.
Lisa Michaels is a freelance writer, editor, and a thriving content marketing consultant from Portland. Being self-employed, she does her best to stay on top of the current trends in business and tech. Feel free to connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.