Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Innovation Needs Information

C. Engdahl
The Big E of Big E Toys

Companies are continually faced with decision-making situations. Some choices may be challenging and difficult to make, while others may be quite simple. The actual decisions facing your organization on any given day may range from very trivial like “What should be the theme for this year’s holiday party?” to the strategically important, “On what technological platform should we base our next initiative?” Whether trivial or strategic, every decision is based on information.

Decisions that affect innovation are no different than other decisions. They are based on information. How much information, what kind of information, whether a company chooses to use certain information, and how well a company interprets available information, is the key to decision-making success.

Information isn’t always easy to obtain however, which is probably a good thing actually. Information - having it and not having it - becomes the basis for competitive advantage. You can only hope your information is better than your competitor’s.

Competitive reports, statistical market studies, and other bits and pieces of information do not often magically fall into an organization’s hands – at least such things have never fallen into my hands. Voice of Customer data in particular, the virtual lifeblood of much innovation, can be tedious at best to obtain. Gathering data (not to mention interpreting data) takes time, effort, and more often than not at least a little bit of money. However discouraging, time consuming, and expensive gathering information may ultimately be, organizations must perform this activity in order to be successful. To not gather information would be akin to purposely blindfolding oneself and walking into traffic.

I’ll not attempt to suggest what information is most important for your organization or how you should go about obtaining it. I think information itself is important enough however for me to simply say this - should your organization not be gathering relevant Voice of Customer and competitive information, start now. Your success depends on it.

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