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Established companies in mature markets often struggle to innovate.
It can be hard to focus on delivering what made the organization successful while constantly feeling pressure to expand margins. It doesn’t have to be this way. All companies, regardless of size or legacy, have the opportunity to reimagine and test how they engage customers and deliver products. They all can get a modernization tune-up at an innovation garage.
What is an innovation garage?
When companies devote limited time and resources to innovation — inarguably, a critical step toward staying relevant — they often update only one function, such as rebuilding a digital channel to support a new product launch or moving an app to the cloud. All too often, they examine little else. Proper innovation, however, calls for floating and testing new ideas in a broad ecosystem that includes many systems, platforms and processes, as well as customers, partners and employees of all types.
Rapid innovation and the need to constantly create new products, processes, efficiencies and channels to market are as important as ever. IBM Garages help companies view new ideas through the lens of an organization’s most important consumer and employee personas, imagining the art of the possible and the value it can deliver.
Using IBM Design Thinking methods, the garages serve to align company stakeholders behind key initiatives so they can formulate the best new ideas and run proof-of-concept exercises that help cull ideas and prove out those with the most impact. Anywhere from three to 30 employees can participate, and they can include cloud architects, design thinkers, coders, data scientists, floor managers and user experience designers, among others as required.
From there, our innovation garage performs proof-of-concept exercises, conceiving prototypes in only a matter of weeks rather than the norm, which can be as long as four months. In the garage, companies get a true sense of how a creation looks and benefits from analytics that illuminate what it will do to improve processes. The team will know right then and there if the idea will work. If it’s bound to succeed, participants can continue working in the garage on-site or remotely from their offices during pilot phases of a program, until eventually they release the creation to market.
How will customers react to new company concepts?
The ability to anticipate behavior and reaction to a new product or service before customers discover it is what truly helps a company to be agile. A business must have room to make mistakes, but it also must be able to rectify those mistakes instantly in a manner that will create deeper loyalty rather than frustration. Often, consumers switch brands because an app doesn’t work intuitively or they don’t have a channel through which to deliver feedback that would improve the customer experience. Why devote time and money without having a mechanism to fully understand how it affects those who will use it?
By garage testing the merits of new ideas and thoroughly studying how they will be received, businesses ultimately become more open, flexible and responsive to customers and employees alike. This promotes a culture that thrives on innovation and employing the best new technologies.
Companies of all types and sizes are expected to be as nimble and experimental as a startup. Garages enable them to create and release ideas to market — and internally to their own employees — that lead to rapid adoption with higher rates of success and effectiveness.