Business Growth

How to stay innovative despite the risk

staying innovating

Cloud computing presents massive opportunities for innovation, and startups have been the most eager to adopt new services. In Forbes, it’s reported that 78 per cent of small businesses in the US will have fully adopted cloud computing by 2020. Figures for the UK market are higher.

For larger companies, it’s a different story. The path to innovation is seen as risky and dangerous. On the one hand, the business doesn’t want to adopt services that cause disruption, or force staff to re-learn their jobs. But if a large business doesn’t keep up with the pace of change, it could be overtaken by a smaller business that is able to grow much more rapidly.

How do you innovate without the risk?

The basics of gap analysis

A gap analysis is a great way to decide what services to bring on board, and which ones you should leave alone until you have more resource to deal with risk. Essentially, you analyse your business’ position as it is today, pick out the things you want to change, and look at the potential for using innovation to drive growth.

To get from A (the now) to B (the ideal), you need to figure out how to bridge the gap without exposing the company to risks.

We can use your phone system as a practical example. You might have a PBX right now, but you know that a hosted VOIP system would be better for your remote workers. In your gap analysis, you’d consider the cost of having the PBX replaced, and the potential inconvenience to staff. You’d then balance this against the convenience of a hosted system and the potential cost savings you’d make after it was rolled out.

What if you don’t innovate?

In general, large businesses are slower to innovate, because they have more pain points and risks to consider. But enterprises are starting to migrate to cloud services because they recognise the potential savings. They also know that their staff want to use cloud services, and expect them to be available at work.

As an example, consider the cloud file storage services you probably use on your home computer. Some businesses think that these services are not secure enough, or too difficult to integrate into existing processes. The risk here is that other businesses roll out cloud file storage and become more efficient than them, which could cause them to lose clients.

There’s a secondary impact of delaying innovation. If you forbid the use of innovative services, but those services get the job done faster, people will do it anyway. Using unapproved technology in the workplace is called shadow IT, and it can be a compliance nightmare for businesses that need to keep tight control on their customer data.

Positive first steps

Risk is inevitable in every part of business. There are risks in innovation, and risks in stagnation. There are also risks when the business moves so slowly that staff adopt workarounds of their own making.

Innovation keeps your company relevant to its clients, and allows productivity to flourish – particularly if you’re keen to adopt remote working. The key in dealing with risk is to plan for it as much as you can. Some of the most successful companies in the UK turned risks into huge opportunities, and treated the journey as a chance to change for the better.

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