Organizations must learn how to drive innovation from both the technology side and the customer side. The challenge for companies is how to get better at bringing those two sides together, according to Marion Debruyne in her book Customer Innovation: Customer-Centric Strategy for Enduring Growth. The essence of customer innovation is that the organization and its ecosystem are a united force in addressing a market demand.
To flesh out these ideas, the author examines customer innovation through three “lenses”. The first lens is the close-up lens, focusing on existing customers, staying tuned-in to their demands and reacting quickly to shifts in customer requirements. The second lens zooms out a bit to view the entire customer journey, to understand what customers are trying to accomplish using the organisation’s products and services. The third lens zooms out further to look at emerging changes on the periphery of the market, to anticipate bigger future changes.
Established companies have always needed to keep their existing customers happy, and most reasonably attentive organisations can manage gradual change in the demands of those customers. However, in a climate of greater change and competition, an organisation needs to look for other products and services which it can offer customers to meet the customers’ full requirements more closely. And in a world of digital disruption, companies need to stay alert to unexpected developments outside their normal field of business, which may completely disrupt the existing marketplace.
I personally found the author’s analysis particularly helpful. As I was reading, the book gave me several ideas which could be applied in my own business context, particularly with regard to collaborating with customers in developing innovations. I have read several books on innovation recently, and this is one of the best.