Innovation…it’s all about creating new products isn’t it?
Manufacturer A: “I keep getting asked if we’re innovative Steve, but we haven’t launched a new product in years.” Manufacture B: “I know Helen, that innovation lark is only for the big boys, who can throw their cash and a few staff at it.”
You’d think after nearly 20 years we would have finally come around to the notion that innovation isn’t purely about bringing the next big thing to market. Sadly, too many manufacturers have this understanding and it’s preventing them from being competitive and reaching their full potential.
So what is innovation and how we do we know if we are indeed innovative?
In a nutshell, innovation is about doing things better and that could be developing products/services that will change the world. Equally, it could be moving into new markets, improving our existing processes or products to reduce cost, improve manufacturability or to give the customer something that is cheaper, better or more useful.
We may also seek to improve our own internal processes, developing staff and becoming more efficient or it may be a change to how we interact with our supply chain to improve performance.
It’s all innovation in my eyes and research shows that businesses that grow sustainably and profitably have one thing in common…they constantly innovate.
At the Manufacturing Advisory Service, we are here to help English manufacturing SMEs become globally competitive and to achieve growth and create jobs.
We have a team of five dedicated advisors in the North East who work hand-in-hand with local manufacturers to support them with strategy, innovation, efficiency improvements and supply chain development.
A new part of our offer is MAS Inspire, which is intended to give firms access to an expert Innovation consultant, who will bring knowledge and a fresh perspective to how their businesses can grow.
The part-funded two-day package of support will involve a structured innovation review to identify opportunities/barriers and then the choice of attending one of three specialist workshops; ‘more profits from the same customers’, ‘growing new markets’ and ‘increasing sales through new products and services’.
So my message to North East manufacturers is simple. Innovation is not just about new products and it is not just for the big boys, if anything it is the smaller firms that do it better…often without even realising they’re doing it!