What is corporate innovation and why is it important for your company?

Ana Vilar García

The word "innovation" has become one of those ubiquitous terms in the business world. In fact, it is so present that it is very often used to describe the very spirit of a company and its employees, rather anecdotally, in a way that ends up losing its meaning.

But true innovation goes much further and it can be understood as a business model itself. Today we explain what corporate innovation is and why it is important that you apply it in your company, regardless of its sector, size and objectives.

What is corporate innovation?

The term corporate innovation not only refers to the creativity or flexibility of a company, but is also understood as a series of practices and strategies that are followed to achieve new objectives that go beyond the company's traditional framework of action.

That is, it is not only a characteristic that is applied spontaneously in certain projects or a way of thinking in a broad sense. It is rather a whole set of intentional actions aimed at executing innovative and revolutionary projects that add long-term value to the company.

Corporate innovation goes much further than just being creative - it is a series of practices and strategies that are followed to achieve new objectives that go beyond the company's traditional framework of action.

Why is innovation important for companies?

Startups are without any doubt the type of company that knows more about innovation. These types of companies are small, incipient and are created precisely to respond to unmet needs, to offer new services that did not exist before or to present new solutions, more innovative and adapted to the new times.

As a matter of fact, in recent decades we have witnessed the technological revolution. With it, the rise of many startups (and not so incipient companies) increase the competitiveness fiercely.

As for today, the presence of this type of company implies that ideas flow and evolve in an agile way, and many times they stand up to large corporations that cover their market niches. Opting for innovation in the company is a way to ensure that your business adapts to changes, new needs and that it can cope with new and fresh ideas from startups.

The Kodak case is a paradigm in this regard. The fall of a leading-sector company is the perfect example of how a slow technological adaptation can lead to the debacle of a huge company. Its fall has left us valuable lessons: always being open to innovation, adapting quickly to changes and closely observing the competition in the sector are some of them.

The technical revolution has increased competitiveness fiercely, thus businesses opt for innovation programs to adapt to changes.

How can a company add innovation to its roadmap?

Startups need to always be open to change, pivot their own products and businesses. But they are not the only companies that need to innovate to stay afloat. Traditional companies seek to be increasingly competitive, for the environment doesn’t stop changing.

We have already mentioned that corporate innovation is not simply about a certain way of thinking. But then how exactly does it work? Depending on its nature, business innovation can be of various types.

  • Technological innovation. This is the most frequent type of innovation, precisely because we are in the middle of the technological revolution. Technological advances just keep on rising and can help companies of all sectors and sizes to revolutionize their work system, their products and their way of evolving in the market. Examples of technological innovation are developing software that allows automation and eliminates manual work for your employees, for instance.
  • Business innovation. This type of innovation is often used to search for new business models, aside from the current one even when it is successful. This type of innovation is easy to illustrate with the Kodak example. Although there are many others, Kodak has become the epitome of the downfall of a robust company that refuses to work on innovative projects. Searching for new projects when the company already has a more than profitable business model might seem futile in the past, but today it is crucial, and can even work as a parachute for any type of business.

👉Even though this is a broad classification, there are many other ways to differentiate innovation types. Take a look at our blog and discover all the different types of innovation in business 👈

How to execute projects that contribute to corporate innovation

There are many ways to jump in corporate innovation. Depending on the urgency of the objectives, the type of company and many other factors, these are some of the ways in which your company can start introducing corporate innovation.

1. Hackathons or competitions

Since business innovation generally revolves around technology, hackathons are events from which brilliant ideas can emerge. However, other types of competitions not related to tech can bring this change of perspective and generate new and profitable concepts too. 

2. Innovation teams or internal events

A practical and almost infallible way to apply business innovation is to have an internal team always present and dedicated to it. These teams are especially relevant in large companies or those who are precisely dedicated to innovation, but they are not the only ones that can apply it.

Another way to innovate internally is to hold regular events in which employees’ creativity is unleashed. A good example of this practice is the adidas Runtastic Day of New Ideas. In this case, employees propose new ideas of all kinds and dedicate one day of the month to execute them: new products, new forms of organization, internal systems that optimize processes, etc. This is an innovative solution that also promotes transversal teamwork.

3. Innovation labs

One of the most effective and frequently used solutions is to go to an innovation lab. These labs are types of companies totally dedicated to corporate innovation.

Very often, companies’ obstacles to innovation are lack of perspective, lack of resources (human or time) or the fact that this objective collides with other objectives already in the roadmap. This is where innovation labs are most valuable.

These types of companies provide a vision from outside the company that allows discovering new objectives, products or business models more easily. The necessary resources are also provided from here: a team of experts plans and executes the strategy without this being an obstacle to the rest of the company's objectives. Companies like Corporate Lab are effective and especially useful in large corporations that need to act quickly and cleverly: putting their projects in expert hands lightens the workload and allows finding new business solutions that would otherwise be almost impossible to discover.

Do you have something in mind, but not sure how to get there? Leave us a message and let's talk about what we can build together! 👇

Our latest news & learnings

¿Pasamos a la acción?_

Empezar un proyecto