Historically, there have been significant barriers to being a technology innovation company. But companies who want to survive must embrace the importance of technology innovation and find ways around these traditional barriers.
The good news is that the barriers are easier to overcome now than they were even a few years ago.
Years ago, if you wanted to start a technology company, you needed to have a server farm, high-speed internet, proper cooling, backup strategies, and significant staff resources. It took a lot of money and expertise to start a tech company, and it didn’t always pan out. Now most of that infrastructure exists in the cloud just waiting for you to leverage it.
As recent as the early 2000s, it took millions to start a technology company. Amazon was one of the cheapest technology startups in history, and they had $5M in angel investing and another $8M from venture capitalists. And that was cheap. Other companies started with $100M in funding. Yes, there’s still an investment required for starting any company, but the cost of entry can be much lower now.
There are lots of companies and people in the technology innovation space, so you don’t have a lot of time to compete. If you have an idea for a product or service, chances are someone else already had that same idea. But we all have the same number of hours in the day, so the question is simply whether you’re willing to put the time and effort in right now at this very moment.
Any company, whether startup or established, needs people. Software developers, information systems specialists, and big data scientists are incredibly valuable. I’ve seen estimates that the best developers are worth 10 to 20 times what a good developer is worth. The best talent is hard to get, hard to keep, and you have to pay them a lot to stick around, because they’re always thinking about new ideas. The advantage now is that you can outsource the talent you need to innovate, rather than always hiring it directly.
Breaking the barriers
The challenge with each of these barriers is to turn it around and start seeing the opportunities rather than the barriers. You can leverage your existing capabilities to overcome any of them. There are companies in Silicon Valley that are willing to throw lots of money at solving a problem, and yet they don’t have anywhere near the experience that you and your team probably have.
They also don’t have your existing customer base, and your customers are a significant investment opportunity. They possess a wealth of information, and you can leverage that as you begin shifting to technology innovation.
Have a product idea? Create as minimum viable a product as you possibly can and then put it in front of your customers for a beta test. Gather their feedback, change the product accordingly, and give them another beta version.
Agile development is a critical component of technology innovation. You’re not trying to create the perfect product on your first pass. Be willing to start with something really basic, get quick feedback, and adjust as needed.
Pursue, pivot, perfect. You have an idea, so pursue it. Pivot that idea as needed based on your experience and the feedback from your customers. Perfect that idea and get it to market.
You also have to be willing to fail, and fail fast. And then move on from that failure to create something better.
Eventually, you end up with a successful product that your customers are excited to buy.