Guest blog: Product and service innovation

  • Share:
May 12, 2014
By Branden Williams, Sysnet Global Solutions, MTBC member
Innovation takes many shapes among executives trying to push their companies into better competitive positions. I’d like to take you through some of those types of innovation to get your creative juices flowing. Where possible, I will provide additional reading that you can get either online, through some Google searches or at your nearest library.

The first type of innovation I want to discuss is the one we most often apply when thinking about innovation—product and service innovation. There are generally four different sub-categories. The first is imitation, or copying someone else’s idea to capture market share. This is sometimes known as the Fast-Second[i] method, and in many cases follows along with a new market created from a so-called “Blue Ocean” strategy. Some successful examples of the Fast-Second method include the Samsung Galaxy and the VHS format (for those of you old enough to know the pain of rewind fees). The second is defensive new product strategies, such as lower prices to kick off a price war.
The third type is structural innovation, which looks at the product or service ecosystem and aims to deliver a solution that is better, faster and cheaper than your customer can get anywhere else. And finally, product innovations recognize the risk factors associated with transitioning from an existing product to a new product. Companies like Intel are able to manage their supply chain appropriately while spinning up demand for new products and gracefully halting demand for replaced products.
When considering a new product or service, one of the often cited strategies is the “Blue Ocean” strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne. They assert that companies looking for stellar incremental growth should look for uncontested market space to create and then capture new demand. Not everyone can invent an iPhone, but there are examples of this everywhere in the tech industry. Sometimes simply combining a service with a product can allow companies to surpass their competitors in meeting a specific market demand. Before you launch into your next product or service innovation, consider the following questions:
  • Will the new product (or service) cannibalize existing product revenue?
  • Does my current business model support taking this product to market?
  • Does this put me at an advantage when compared to my competitors?
  • Have I partnered with the right organizations to maximize market capture?

I referenced both an article and a book that discusses Blue Ocean and Fast-Second in much more detail. I want to direct you to a fantastic article that discusses a concept called the “Business Model Canvas[ii] which can be used to predict the success or failure of a business model before the first dollar is spent.

Branden Williams is the executive vice president of strategy for Sysnet. He has over 15 years experience in technology and information security with a formidable background in the majority of the technologies that drive today’s businesses. After spending the first several years of his career working with education institutions and internet service providers to secure their infrastructures, Branden co-founded an IT consulting business that was later sold to a venture capitalist. He continued in this entrepreneurial spirit and worked with several of their portfolio companies to enable the growth of their business while securing their enterprises. More recently, Branden held the position of CTO at RSA, the security division of EMC. In this role, Branden and his team were key contributors to near-term architecture and strategies for RSA products and services. Prior to that, he was consulting director at Verisign, Inc., responsible for sales and delivery across his portfolio. Branden holds a masters of business administration from the University of Dallas and is a current doctoral candidate in business intelligence at Capella University. Branden sat on the PCI board of advisors from 2011-2013. He publishes regularly and co-authored a book on PCI Compliance. 

[i] Buisson, B., & Silberzahn, P. (2010). Blue ocean or fast-second innovation? A four-breakthrough model to explain successful market domination. International Journal of Innovation Management, 14(3), 359-378.

[ii] Blank, S. (2013). Why the lean start-up changes everything. Harvard Business Review, 91(5), 63-72.

Branden R. Williams, Sysnet Global Solutions