By: Mark Green
The heart of innovation is testing new ideas. Most often, it involves blending data, techniques, or processes to create new products. Occasionally, it is create products from scratch.
Blending is the low risk scenario. It expands the value from current costs. It has a higher success rate than building products from scratch. How many deliberate - not accidental - inventions do you know of that do not blend prior ideas?
Yet, many companies struggle with this. Large companies usually have areas of responsibilities, and no easy way to bridge these. Those who try to innovate encounter prioritization resistance in addition to fear of cannibalization.
Startups tend to be more flexible, and experimental, and yet they struggle in this area too. Often their product is new to the marketplace, and scaling involves finding repeatable business development opportunities. These opportunities require fitting the new into the old (syncing data, tech, and processes) to demonstrate value. Typically startups go through multiple rounds of these development opportunities before discovering and anchoring to what scales. This is the classic prioritization struggle with early stage startups. In reality, it is the same problem that any growth-stalled company faces: the innovation conundrum. The only difference is that bigger companies have expense decisions to make as well.
The simple way to solve this problem is have an independent team solely focused on business development.
Such a solution is where many companies get it wrong. They often think business development means a separate sales person with some product knowledge to fish for opportunities. Or just as bad, CEOs take this role and disrupt the roadmap with every pilot opportunity.
A more effective way is to start with the right team, a team that can fully develop engagement opportunities. The team needs to identify opportunities, develop pilot concepts to engage with, set up the meetings, develop the MVP (minimum viable product) for the pilot engagement, and manage the product and business sides of the engagement without involving anyone else in the company. Call it “sales with skunk works.” This what business development needs to be in order to solve the innovation conundrum.
The reason many smaller companies shy away from this approach is it is simply too expensive to retain the talent necessary to succeed. Larger companies stumble on ownership politics and culture.
Successful teams require experienced multi-disciplined experts with imagination, flexibility, and a willingness to get their hands dirty. The ideal team includes both sellers and builders led by an architect with deep knowledge and experience across current business data, tech and processes.
One simple way to solve the innovation conundrum is to hire this packaged team as a service from a company like martechpartner.com. You get ready experts who have deep experience in all aspects of marketing data, technology, and processes. You can hire their service in pieces or as a fully formed team.