Innovation vs Real Business Opportunity

I’m reading a lot lately about having space in our work routine for innovation. To create new products, services or anything innovative that can make our life and our clients life more productive and enjoyable. This is really important and this might be what stands out our company or brand from the crowd. No question about it.

What brings me to write these words today is not about the importance of being innovative. It’s the value of handle innovative products or services with another angle.

Lets say that someone has created a brand new idea and its launching it to the market. The idea is really great and it can be disruptive as it should… But then, the approach and the way they’ve marketed it didn’t make the splash they needed. So, the idea is there, the product was made, but the demand is short for that or it’s stalling instead of rocketing sky high.

Opportunity Space

This is where I think that there’s also an opportunity for other businesses to come along. Unfortunately, this way to approach business has being misused by some brands that stand out as copy-cats creating almost exact copies of the idea and made just another brand to compete alongside and gain market share.

The concept that I mention that brings value to the market is understanding the original idea, understand where the innovators stand in the market and then make a completely different approach on the way you sell this to the audience. This way, you’re not competing directly with the people that started the idea but in fact, are working together creating a new demand and dividing efforts in evangelising the business model.

Case Study Examples

Lets give some examples to really understand, shall we? When Henry Ford has launched the T-model he wasn’t the inventor of the automobile. He was the one that thought in a way to bring this innovation to the mass audience. Was he a copy-cat? When Apple launched the iPhone even though its considered today a massive disruptive innovation, they weren’t the ones that invented the touch interface in a mobile device. Or the ones that had the first app mobile OS for smartphones. But they were different and innovative in the way they approached the market and really developed a brand new frontier for thousands of other businesses that now live from it.

We Shouldn’t Miss the Opportunity

My point is… When I’m in a brainstorm meeting trying to create new ideas and products, someone starts to bring something to the table. It’s doing great, but then someone says that it’s already invented. Usually all contributors backs out and try to create something completely new. This is great and I really support that. What I find also valuable is to be able to rethink something out. Maybe, even though it was already created, the approach doesn’t bring everybody to the circle because it hasn’t tackled an interesting niche.

An example is the Cloud computing. Can you imagine the different approaches that has being made to the concept? From Evernote to Dropbox, from Google Apps to Amazon Cloud computing. One single company couldn’t possibly tackle all of this demands and ideas coming from the original concept.

Differentiate Copy-cats from Real Alternative Businesses

Then, how can we differentiate a lame copy-cat idea from a disruptive and valid revamp from the original one? Well, actually is not that difficult. You can spare them apart quite easy by the way they approach the market. Is the same problem they’re trying to solve? Is the solution completely the same? Is one solution better than the other in tackling the problem? For instance, even though Dropbox had a surge of a huge mass of competitors in the last few years, their solution is way better in terms of practical use (my opinion) and the different integrations with other services that they have opened it.

On other hand, until recently, copy-cats from Groupon have been launched worldwide and in this case in their benefit was the quickness in getting local market share in several countries at once. The “pains” of growth might have hurt them bad. We can also argue that their intellectual property was really absent since its a simple daily discount offer which was taken to the extreme. Nevertheless, they deserve the credit for having disrupted the sector using aggressive marketing strategies.

Where resides the value?

In my perspective the value resides in both methods. Having a innovative idea is key, but its worthless unless the right marketing strategy is implemented to gain space and create a place of its own. The original innovators can also benefit from the other market implementations from the ones that followed the path but shared a different perspective and solution to the same problem. Is about to the market to choose the best for their specific need.

So, my key thought on this is that we shouldn’t really waste possibly great business opportunities just because other companies are already with solutions for that problems. If that would happen, some awesome products like iPad, iPhone, Vimeo, Google Glass and so many more wouldn’t have been existed.

When you think about launching a awesome product but someone says that it was already invented, think about what happened and if there’s still space for you to enter in the market with another approach to solve the same problem or need.

I really would love to know about your take on this. What’s your thoughts on this subject?

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