How to build an innovation strategy

How to build an innovation strategy

As an innovative company, Yellowfin is focused on delivering new products to market, not just incrementally improving what we have. If you're a software company looking to build your own innovation strategy, there are some things that you need to do, and a few you shouldn’t, to make sure you're successful.

Stop looking sideways

The first thing you shouldn’t do is look at your competitors. Many software companies have one great idea and then they stop. If you focus on your competitors, all you're going to be is a fast follower.  

Don't rely on your customers for direction

You also shouldn’t rely on your customers when building your innovation strategy. Your customers are thinking about their own business and what you can do to help them today, not what you should do tomorrow. For example, no one asked us for Signals or Stories before we launched them. But the feedback we get from the market on those two products is astounding. That's because customers can’t imagine what they want in the future because they’re rooted in the paradigm of what they know today.

Our customers become a valuable part of our innovation strategy once we’ve launched a new product or feature. They're the ones that take an idea that we’ve brought to market and stretch it and take it in new directions. This helps us iterate and create the best product on the market.

Research other industries

While your customers and competitors won’t help you build an innovation strategy, researching other industries will. At Yellowfin, we don’t just look at what’s happening in the BI industry. We look at what's happening in IT service management, consumer technology, enterprise technology banking, and a broad range of industries that will ultimately drive what consumers of our technology are going to expect in the future.

Because we always want to be the first to market with new products, we’re constantly looking at the technology landscape in totality and seeing how innovations in those sectors could be applied to analytics and business intelligence. It’s the insights we glean from this landscape analysis that helps us determine where we think the analytics market will be going years from now.  

Stay customer-centric

When creating your innovation strategy it’s also important to make sure everything is customer-centric. You need to ask yourself if this innovation is going to improve your customer’s relationship with your product. Is it going to make their experience better? That's where the real innovation lies.

Instant or years of iteration

When I look back at some of our recent innovations at Yellowfin, there was no set process to our innovation strategy. Our data storytelling product, Stories, came together in a day because I was copying and pasting reports from Yellowfin into a word document and realized that there must be a simpler way. On the other hand, the development of our automated data discovery product, Signals, was a more iterative cycle that took us over two years.

Sometimes an innovation strategy can be built in an instant, and in others it can be a hard slog. But when you’re building your innovation strategy you always need to constantly assess the broader market and ask yourself, is this going to improve your customer’s experience?

How to create an innovation culture

A crucial part of innovation is developing a culture where it can thrive. Read the blog on how to create an innovation culture in your business.