Mike Cushing / Digital Strategy / November 1st, 2016

Why Corporations Should Pursue Incremental Innovation

Most people think successful innovation requires disrupting an industry or launching a revolutionary product. Given the weight of the core business unit, the realities of corporate innovation tend to promote incremental, iterative innovation over radical breakthroughs. Here’s how corporate changemakers can pursue new ventures that focus on improving the core business of an enterprise. While it may not deliver the next $100 million business unit, incremental improvements to enterprise profit centers can help corporate innovators build credibility and score quick wins within the enterprise.

Finding Your Niche

Identifying opportunities for incremental improvements to core products requires the ability to listen and react to real user problems. Most industries have mountains of data on customer pain points, yet few corporate innovators know how to sift through that data to uncover the problems causing that pain. However, the ones who can identify those opportunities have a clear advantage when it comes to innovation.

While startups often need to focus on disruption and revolutionary products, enterprise organizations have the luxury of established digital platforms and loyal customers. By their nature, those platforms and reach set the stage for incremental innovation that can eventually deliver incredible value. Imagine if Kodak had created Instagram after realizing the rise of the iPhone would change the accessibility of photography for everyone – they had the means, but not the vision.

Genius is 99% Iteration

For an example of incremental innovation in action, look no further than the last three years of Apple product development. While Google has been taking moonshots, Apple has been iteratively refining the iPhone and MacBook Pro to deliver better user experience and more powerful hardware. It’d be foolish to think Apple isn’t working on the next big thing in the background, but it’s clear their focus is on refining the experience of a revolutionary product.