We often think of innovation as something that causes disruptive, big-bang changes in the way people work, or distinctly new products (or services) offered to customers - but this is only half of the story. Innovations can be categorized as either disruptive or continuous. Continuous innovation is a process of making small incremental improvements, whereas a disruptive innovation is a “quantum leap” to something fundamentally different and better. Incremental innovation is, by nature, easy for end user communities to digest – as the changes are small and everything else remains familiar.
Disruptive innovations are precisely that: disruptive. They “level up” productivity, but at the cost of taking end users out of their comfort zones. This adds a larger element of risk. The bigger the change, the more resistance you will meet. The more resistance you meet, the larger the chance of failure if end users or customers reject the innovation.
Innovation may be highly visible to the customer or the end user community: new technology-enabled products or services, new ways of doing business with customers, or a new way of operating the business. Or it may involve less perceptible improvements “under the hood” of IT – designed to deliver better service performance or IT operations efficiency. Innovations may involve fundamental changes to a user interface, or the automation of manual labor to shave waste from an internal IT process. They may transform the way business is done and have a seismic impact on company revenue. Or simply be one of many incremental improvements that push down the cost of IT operations. Whatever shape or form an innovation takes, there will always be barriers and landmines – issues that you will need to face in order to turn a new concept of idea into a tangible and sustained benefit.