Real, lasting success in the corporate world is often hard to come by. For businesses that are determined to go the distance, however, we’ve seen that imbuing a culture of innovation within internal structures can often prove decisive.

To be specific, a culture of innovation refers to a specific work environment that’s cultivated and maintained by business leaders. This is done in order to encourage free thinking and the exchange of ideas that can boost business products, services, and practices, while adding value to employees. This culture and mindset are inculcated across the organisation.

While many companies have fallen into the trap of setting up specific innovation teams to look into all aspects of operations, these have proven to be largely ineffective. A culture of innovation, on the other hand, is propagated by all employees, each contribution as valuable as the next.

Employees are Given the Space to Take Risks

It’s common for us to equate taking risks with failure - a mindset, which prevents us from going after what really makes for success. In a company with a robust culture of innovation, failing is all a part of the learning process.

By creating an environment in which employees are emboldened to take calculated risks and sound their ideas, expanding operations, opportunities, and solving common challenges is undertaken with greater innovation and success.

In such organisations, failure is not met with disapproval or contempt. These events mark a crucial learning curve, which allows individuals to reshift their thinking and try other strategies.

Taking risks has often yielded success in companies such as Microsoft. In a market with a well-established gaming console provider, Playstation, Microsoft took the plunge and moved into the market with their Xbox system in the early 2000s. While this may have been considered an unnecessary risk at the time, their efforts paid off - Xbox consoles are now packed with OTT television and video streaming.

AI Tools Allow Businesses to Adopt Data-Driven Approaches

Another crucial reason why a culture of innovationis pivotal is that it opens businesses up to the infinite value of various AI tools. While there are a number of platforms that can be used for a variety of purposes, some of the most useful software has to do with improving customer experience.

In this regard, sentiment analysis often proves to be highly useful. Allowing users to gauge the responses and attitudes of customers, improving products and services in a way that caters to specific needs becomes significantly easier.

Consumer insights, which also forms an important part of market research, is equally important. Together, these tools allow employees to leverage big data to innovate service delivery. This is especially important given that this kind of intelligence can solve traditional business challenges with relative ease.

Other customer-focused tools include AI chatbots, which automate a component of customer support functions. This software interacts with clients on behalf of employees, benefiting smaller companies who don’t have the resources to fund full-time support staff.

Many are sceptical of AI tools due to a growing concern that human services will gradually be replaced. These tools, however, may just move certain tasks over to automated processes - in the short run, at least. In this regard, automation will take over statistical analysis (48% within 5 years), writing survey questions (19% within 5 years), and finding insights in feedback data (19% within 5 years).

A Culture of Innovation Forces Organisations to Focus on the Bigger Picture

When innovation becomes the very essence of an organisation, concerns almost automatically shift away from short-term priorities. In this context, the ‘bigger picture’ doesn’t simply mean increased sales or profit, although they form a part of the equation.

It, therefore, doesn’t involve employees performing the same task with greater efficiency, but broadening their horizons to allow the company to evolve strategically.

Google is an organisation that has understood the value of a culture of innovation for long-term growth. Here, higher-ups implemented a 20% time allocation for employees to work on pet projects - a move that led to the development of products such as Gmail and Adsense.

Continuous Learning is Placed at the Forefront of Company Life

Another benefit derived from a thriving culture of innovationis the constant learning and skills development. This enhances the ability of employees to give back to their companies in more ways than one, leading to overall growth and success.

In this regard, skills development doesn’t simply mean learning to use and apply various software and tools. While this is certainly important - especially in the context of AI tools - soft skills are also important. Some of the skills being prioritised, at present, include problem-solving, communication, and teamwork, to name just a few.

SAP, a specialist and industry leader in enterprise application software, is known to prioritise employee learning through vocational programs. In previous years, they even launched an intrapreneurship Boot Camp. Here, employees were given the opportunity to work like startups and create new business opportunities.

Setting the Innovation Culture Right  

Creating a culture of innovation can take time, investment, and effort. There may even be a few stumbling blocks along the way. The result, however, always proves to be valuable, bringing with it a slew of benefits for far-thinking business leaders. Beyond changing attitudes and internal practices, investing in the right automation tools and services can speed this process up.