I think it’s safe to assume that we have all heard the phrase “don’t imitate, innovate” in some form or other, but from my point of view, there are only so many times that the wheel can be invented, meaning that sometimes, you would, could and should imitate.

I’m not talking about 100% stealing ideas from others but gaining an understanding of where you are in your journey. Both as a person and as a company. Sometimes you have to imitate to lay the grounds for being able to innovate.

In our recent SAS Innovation Summit, Gerry Brown, CX Research Director from IDC Europe, talked about the difference between Invention and Innovation, and how incremental improvement suggestions from both customers and employees can lead to constant Innovation.

Learn how to C and understand that X marks the treasure!

During COVID, a lot of companies had to look at their digital presence from a customer experience (CX) point of view, and either kick-start it or revamp it completely. I would venture the guess, that pretty much none of these companies started out with “Let’s come up with a completely new way of doing online”. Most, if not all, would have started with a look at who else in their industry is “doing online” with great success, and mull over how they could imitate what has proven to work and then add some additions of their own.

We all know the digital consumer is using an impressive amount of touchpoints in their journey from demand to purchase, and if you really want to understand and predict that behaviour, you have to be able to transform the data at your fingertips into actionable insights. This is not necessarily done in one step, and for some it makes sense to cut this into several steps, adding value and understanding before taking the next step.

Data without insights is like a Happy Meal without a toy!

An increasing number of clients are taking these steps, with CX identified as strategically important in boardrooms, there will be more and more focus on either beginning the journey or expanding on a current one, leading us to the point regarding imitation. Some of these steps are done by all and make perfect sense to start out with. So, DO invest in collecting this data, DO invest in proper handling of this data and by all means, DO invest in how to understand and use this data.

And this is where innovation comes in. How you use your data is what can set you apart from everyone else. You don’t have to be massively different, but data allows you to pull out and determine the uniqueness that is your brand, and how people interact with it. Data not only answers questions but builds new ones and both are equally important because both contribute to moving closer to standing out.

Data, and the understanding of it, is able to highlight your success as well as put failures into perspective. Sometimes a failure is the start of a better way or process, meaning that a failed campaign can highlight flaws in the way you work or interpret a user journey, setting you on the path to success in the future. Therefore, being able to analyse your failure is as imperative as being able to analyse your success.

Automation is not here to fire you, it’s here to empower you!

“Does that mean that we have to spend all our time analysing data” I hear someone shouting from the back. Not at all. These days, most of this can be automated with the right tools and platforms, leaving the standard and easy in the capable hands of automation, as well as reaping the benefits for suggested future steps from AI and ML. This leaves your hands free to focus on more complex actions…

….bringing us back to innovation, all of the above should be what we define as “basic business” and one of the biggest drivers for success is being “brilliant at the basics”. When you achieve that, it not only frees up time to work outside the box but acts as the prelude to innovation.

The definition of innovation is quite clear, but the act of innovating is in the eye of the beholder. Innovation can be as big as a whole company shifting focus and as small as adding a button that provides faster access to given information. It’s influenced by the company, the industry, the users, the workers and in the end, you!

Innovation is not a driverless car….unless you are inventing it!

You are the key driver to innovation for any company, and one of the first steps towards innovation is putting word to your ideas. In this regard, I’m my own worst enemy. How many of you have had an idea, just to hear that voice inside your head saying, “well if it was that simple, someone would have come up with it already”, prompting you to assume that it has already been discarded before. Our sense of self-preservation, while often having our backs, sometimes also presents our biggest hurdle, so next time, speak up and share your idea. It might just be the “new wheel”.

So, what was my point with this post?

I guess it was to outline that unless we sometimes imitate, we will find it hard to innovate, and innovation has to start with you!


About Author

Allan Lezcano Mølgaard

Business Solutions Advisor in Customer Intelligence at SAS

Allan is a Business Solutions Advisor in Customer Intelligence at SAS, with a primary focus on the Nordic region. With more than 15 years in Online Advertising and Marketing Tech, he is an expert in helping organisations shorten the distance between brand and customer, through data-driven engagement strategies. His unique outside-in approach enables him to drive business value from both sides of the table.

Leave A Reply

Back to Top