Peter Drucker wrote, “The purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer.” If your purpose is to get and keep profitable customers, your customers should be your primary source of innovation. No company can simply develop a new product based on some cool idea and throw it over the wall in hopes that marketing and sales can figure out how to create a need in someone, somewhere. Competition is too intense, customers too demanding, and profit margins too thin for this.
To effectively leverage innovation to fuel customer-centric growth, companies need to: 1) deeply understand customers’ needs, wants, desires, and attitudes regarding their products, services, and company and update this regularly; 2) assign executive champions for innovation initiatives; and 3) create a unified process for identifying and qualifying opportunities for products, services, markets, or segments.
Many of the existing Customer Insight Conduits™ (channels through which information passes primarily from customers and the marketplace to a function within the company that is able to make data actionable and drive customer-valued change throughout the organization) such as advisory boards, direct conversations, and other activities can yield innovation, be it incremental product improvement or business transformation.