Innovation Management in the Business Environment

Introduction

In the current competitive market environment, firms are forced to maintain creativity in their production strategies. According to Kotler, Keller, Brady, and Goodman (2012), emerging technologies have redefined the business environment in many ways. Customers are well informed about the specific needs that should be met by the products they purchase. This means that they will only purchase a product that meets or exceeds their expectations.

As Annacchino (2003) observes, customers have become very demanding because they have several alternatives to choose from every time they want to purchase a given product. Competitors are also keen on producing new, improved products as a way of gaining a competitive advantage. These are some of the challenges that have forced many firms to embrace creativity in their operations.

Trott (2011) defines creativity as the ability to address a normal task in a supernormal way. This scholar says that creativity enables a firm to undertake a given process at a lower cost and within a shorter period because of the unique approaches which are not currently practiced by other firms. Creativity may also involve coming up with a new product in the market that meets the customers’ needs in a unique way. The new product may be meant to address the customer’s needs that are currently met by the existing products. However, the new product offers superior satisfaction, making the existing products to be of a lesser value in the eyes of the consumers.

New product development is actually based on creativity. According to Crawford and Benedetto (2011), it is almost impossible to come up with an innovative product when creativity is lacking. Many firms are currently struggling to develop new products that meet the customers’ needs in a superior way. Some of the top brands in the world market today owe their success to their innovative employees who were able to visualize new products.

Trott (2011) says that innovation involves visualization. This means that employees are in the best position to come up with innovative ideas for developing new products or coming up with new systems that can enhance production systems. Once an idea has been visualized, it is always taken through a rigorous process of screening to determine if it is viable before it can be put into practice.

Innovation can only be relevant if it is allowed to spread, either within the firm or an industry. According to Adetule (2011), it is almost impossible to monopolize an innovative idea that has been actualized. The Diffusion of Innovation Theory helps in explaining this fact. According to this theory, once one comes up with an innovative idea, it has to be spread to others within a given system in order to be useful. If it is a production strategy that an employee has come up with, this knowledge must be passed to other employees and the management in order to find a way of putting it into practice. As the new system or product gets popularised, the Diffusion of Innovation Theory holds that different people will embrace it differently based on a number of factors.

The innovators are the individuals who are keen on coming up with new ideas at a regular interval. Early adopters are those who are keen on embracing new concepts as soon as they emerge. The early majority are those who wait to see what happens to the early adopters before they can embrace the new concept. The late majority are cautious individuals who take time before adopting new concepts, while laggards are those who completely ignore new technological concepts.

Application

The film industry has seen massive changes over the past 50 years due to emerging technologies. As the name suggests, photography during the early era largely depended on the use of film. However, as time went by, the relevance of films was put into question, given the needs of the consumers. Most of the consumers of the product were tourists who visited various parts of the world during their leisure time. They wanted to have a memory of their travels.

However, the use of films was proving to be tedious because it involved extra expenses of buying the films. The cameras were also very large and heavy, making the whole experience less pleasant. In the 1990s, it was time to go digital. Technology had facilitated the creation of a new product that met the needs of the consumers in a perfect way. The digital camera was an innovative product that eliminated the need for films in photography. This product received a massive acceptance in the market. It became a hit almost immediately.

Innovation at Eastman Kodak

Eastman Kodak is an innovator. They invented the current digital camera technology. However, the firm is very poor when it comes to adopting new technology. After coming up with new technology, it took over 20 years for the firm to be put it into practice, leaving the early adopters to beat it at its own game.

Innovation at Fuji Film

Fuji Film can be defined as an early adaptor when it comes to innovation. It has been slow in coming up with new products but very swift when it comes to embracing new inventions.

Challenges

Eastman Kodak and Fuji Films face a number of challenges, as mentioned in the section above. Stiff market competition is the major challenge that these firms face in their operations. To overcome this challenge, these firms can use innovation in order to make their products superior to those of their competitors. Each of these firms can take advantage of their competitive opportunities in order to overcome these challenges. Kodak is an innovator. It has a team of highly skilled employees. These are the factors that it should exploit in order to come up with products that will outsmart those of its market rivals. On the other hand, Fuji Film is an early adopter. It knows how to identify a new production approach and how it can be used to gain a competitive edge over rival firms.

Future Innovation

It is apparent that this industry still has huge potential. However, Eastman Kodak has a lot to do in order to remain competitive in this market. As Bhal (2005) notes, innovation is the only way through which this firm can achieve success. It is not enough being an innovator. The management of this firm will need to embrace change when it becomes apparent that it is the only way of becoming competitive in the market. The main recommendation that the management of Kodak should take note of is that change is inevitable. This firm must find innovative ways of managing change. The figure below shows an innovative change model that should be used by Eastman Kodak.

The model shows five major steps that this firm should follow every time it is faced with a new technological invention that requires changes in its operations.

Conclusion

It is clear that innovation is a force that a firm cannot afford to ignore in the current competitive market. As explained in the introduction, innovation theory provides us with a means of understanding how new knowledge is spread and applied within a given social context for the benefit of a given organization.

List of References

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Trott, P 2011, Innovation Management and New Product Development, FT Prentice Hall, New York.