What True Business Innovation Entails in 2021

Business Transformation|5 Minute Read

What True Business Innovation Entails in 2021

‘Business innovation’ may seem like just another buzzword. (Or, at least a rather vague term.)

In reality, it’s a key part of companies’ success today. The more innovative business solutions they test, optimize, and scale, the greater the returns in terms of revenue and efficiency.

It’s become especially important to prioritize business innovation amid the pandemic, during which commerce conditions and consumers’ preferences seemingly change daily.

And yet, only 15% of enterprise executives are allocating spend toward innovative business ideas and initiatives, according to a 2020 Deloitte Insights report.

It’s clear many companies are simply trying to withstand this ‘down’ period. That means they’re investing in tried-and-true tactics and tools they know will help them endure in 2021.

But the Deloitte study’s authors noted the organizations that go this route are shortsighted.

Instead of sticking with the status quo, Deloitte noted it’s vital for businesses to implement new, innovative approaches — and embrace modern tech — to grow in the long term.

“Savvy CIOs are … focusing on business innovation and other offensive technology investments — those that create and enable new opportunities, business models, and revenue sources,” the report’s authors stated.

More specifically, investment in solutions like a customer data platform (CDP).

business innovation strategy

Building a sustainable business innovation strategy with the appropriate ‘PPT’

Successful innovators today aren’t just the organizations with the right people, processes, and tech to help them execute and gradually improve their desired business strategy.

They’re also the companies that gain a competitive advantage and greater market share through experimentation and adaptation: from business model innovation (e.g., testing new products/services or revenue streams due to COVID-19) to process innovations (e.g., better aligning growth-focused teams to improve customer experience).

Regardless of the exact approach, innovative companies all have one big thing in common: A best-of-breed technology stack in which unified, actionable customer data is accessible to all relevant stakeholders.

In other words? They invest in a single source of truth to merge and consolidate first-party data and make it available to marketing, ecommerce, analytics, and other growth teams to fundamentally transform how they understand and interact with customers.

Of course, a solution like this won’t lead to effective innovation projects in and of itself. Rather, executives need to manage change when onboarding new tools.

That is to say, these business leaders must assess core business processes and ensure the appropriate personnel have the proper data resources and literacy to utilize them.

As BlueConic COO Cory Munchbach wrote for Toolbox, a common perspective among C-suites today is the (misguided) belief tech alone can be their savior, so to speak.

“[O]ne of the biggest fallacies of martech is that each new and innovative solution that is added to a company’s tech stack will be the silver bullet that marketers have been looking for to solve all their problems,” Cory noted.

But, as Cory noted, “there is no such thing as an easy button” for organizations today.

Embracing innovative business solutions to expedite growth and improve efficiency

There’s no one right way to develop an innovation strategy. But investing in modern tools that enable companies to own the relationship with customers is a good starting point.

Our CDP is one such technology. It, like other platforms, isn’t a ‘silver-bullet’ solution. But it is a system that centralizes customer data and makes that data accessible to all growth teams and their tools — which is now the foundation for true business innovation.

Consider how BlueConic customer Belgian Cycling Factory (BCF) executed its mid-pandemic innovation approach. One that accelerated its own growth and that of partner dealers:

  • As was the case for many businesses, 2020 proved to be a challenging year for the bike manufacturer. Sales of its bicycles and related gear at dealerships declined, as brick-and-mortar showrooms shuttered.
  • So, it turned its attention online. Notably, it built an ecommerce store and launched a marketing-as-a-service offering for its dealers so it could target and deliver individualized messaging to engaged individuals.
  • More specifically, they were able to promote bikes and other items of interest to them and at the most relevant store (e.g., one nearby or that had the product(s) in stock).
  • Knowing the market demand for products in each region helped BCF and its partner dealers find a new, sustainable avenue for revenue growth.
  • The BCF team could now interact with its audience in a more intelligent, highly personalized manner. Moreover, dealers gained insights into which bike models and accessories were most popular at each location.

Ultimately, BCF’s dealers increased earnings 10-15% after gaining new and improved product and customer insights that helped them determine which bikes to keep in inventory.

And this innovative approach to direct-to-consumer diversification meant Belgian Cycling Factory could streamline and scale its customer engagement efforts, bolster its overall business efficiency, and keep its revenue moving in the right direction.

business innovation

Executing a new business innovation approach with a modernized tech stack

Not every business will need a ‘radical’ innovation strategy like Belgian Cycling Factory’s: one in which new technology is onboarded and a new business model is implemented.

But the former innovation element — a modernized business technology stack — is likely one many organizations will need to address in 2021 and beyond.

Why? Because mid-sized and enterprise companies alike often attempt to carry out their respective business innovation strategies with disconnected and/or legacy solutions: POS, MDM, CRM, and other three-letter-acronyms.

(Or, worse, they try to repurpose data tools specifically designed for internal-facing parts of the business, like finance and operations, to orchestrate customer experiences.)

But reliance on disparate tools that silo data within each team and store data and recognize individuals in ways unique to each system deters efficient and effective engagement.

“You don’t have to throw away the entire machine,” BlueConic VP Marketing Michele Szabocsik noted for Forbes. However, you do need a system that connects these tools to enhance your engagement efforts, and, in turn, realize desired business growth.

At its core, business innovation means constantly evolving, experimenting, and adapting.

Whatever your consumer-centric innovation objective is (democratize data science and analytics, deliver better digital experiences, etc.), it’s best achieved with a CDP.

In particular, a pure-play CDP that enables tech users to contribute to a high-quality, end-to-end, mutually beneficial customer experience, thanks to unified, actionable first-party data.

Find out how you can accelerate your business innovation efforts and realize greater operational efficiency with our pure-play CDP. Schedule your BlueConic demo today.

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