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Key principles for a winning B2B innovation strategy

*This article was originally published on prooV’s website on 12/10/2018. prooV merged with QAssure to become 1TX in July 2022*

When making purchases, businesses are more discerning and have more complex requirements than individual customers. That means that B2B companies need to bring constant breakthroughs and innovations at scale in order to serve their consumer base well.

We have put together these guidelines based on the innovation activities of some of the most experienced and successful B2B enterprises so that you can create a B2B innovation strategy that provides the results you are looking for.

Create a Culture of Change

Dedicated innovation programs are growing in popularity across all industries and disciplines, but while many companies talk a big game about innovation, many still find it a challenge to enact real change. 

The problem lies in deep-seated company culture issues.

Innovation is about following big ideas and embracing new ways of thinking; not doing what everyone else has done or sticking to tried-and-true ways of the past. No company ever broke ground by doing the same thing over and over.

Former CEO of Novartis, Daniel Vasella, states that his innovation success has “come out of a reflection, an independence of thinking that was bigger than conformity. Personally, and professionally, conformity is not important.”

When it comes to innovation, companies should never think in terms of restrictions. Instead, they need to embrace possibility.

Why 45.3% of survey respondents said cultural issues was the biggest barrier to innovation

Think Beyond Reactive

Many B2B companies pride themselves on their customer service. They advertise the fact that every time a client calls, they respond immediately. They react quickly and efficiently.

On one hand, that is exactly how it should be. Clients should be the top priority.
However, problems arise when this leads to always being a step behind.

In an interview, Robert C. Wolcott, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Kellogg Innovation Network, explains why B2B companies need to be more proactive, and not only react to client demands:

Waiting for a client to tell you what they need will never put you on top, and your innovation strategy needs to be driven by more than just client suggestions.

You need to anticipate what your clients want and explore options that they haven’t even thought of yet.

Your innovation strategy should focus on what your clients will want and need tomorrow, not what they want and need today. It should be proactive, not reactive.

Keep Your Options Open

We’ve talked about the benefits of open innovation before, but it bears repeating because it is so integral to fostering a sustainable innovation program that delivers tangible results.

Open innovation has become so important because relying on internal innovation is unsustainable and less effective.

For one, the culture within a company can become a feedback loop. You can only see things from your own perspective, and sometimes problems require a fresh perspective for truly ground-breaking solutions.

Looking outside of your own corporate structure for solutions, and evaluating those solutions on a streamlined proof-of-concept platform like prooV can drastically reduce the cost and risk of innovation.

In an interview, Daphne Gottschalk, the Head of Innovation at Amdocs, details her thoughts on open innovation: “To succeed, large corporations must take steps to become familiar with and adapt to the new models. Such change needs to occur at all levels, including organizational, technological and business leadership.”

This is the strategy preferred by every top B2B company from IBM to Northrop Grumman. And it cannot be ignored if you are looking to grow your business and break ground for your clients.

Mastering Innovation

Building a successful innovation program takes time and dedication, but by following these guidelines, every B2B company can create a winning innovation strategy that will drive their success for years to come:

  1. First, you need to carefully cultivate an atmosphere of innovation at every level of the company. If the culture of your company is fundamentally stuck in its ways, then innovation becomes exponentially harder.
  1. Next, innovation needs to be driven by what customers will want, rather than what they want right now. Being reactive may work for day-to-day operations, but it will not push you ahead of your competition like proactive innovation.
  1. Lastly, do not underestimate the importance of open innovation. Collaboration and partnerships are where most real innovation is born. Mastering that idea and embracing mutually beneficial cooperation will ultimately separate the good-enough companies from the true mavericks.

To learn how 1TX’s solutions can support your organizations B2B innovation strategy, contact us today!