Think of a successful company. Why is it successful? If you were to describe this company you’re thinking of, would you use the word innovative?
To be an innovator typically means bringing something new to an already competitive market. However, it doesn’t mean you always need to create something totally new. Innovation can be the simplification of a current process—taking something that already works and making the process more simple and effective.
I believe innovation stems from recognizing a problem or a step in a process that could be removed or improved. Just because something works doesn’t mean it can’t be improved. Here are several examples of recent innovators who just simplified their current product:
Apple – Fingerprint Sensor
Apple’s iTunes is known for having the most online accounts with linked credit cards. These accounts are called Apple ID accounts and are synced to their iPads, Computers, and iPhones allowing users to download music, apps, movies, iBooks, etc.
The problem Apple had was before you’re able to download anything from iTunes it asks for your Apple ID. This would give the user anywhere between 5-10 seconds to second-guess their purchase. If you could remove that 5-10 or even lower it, the conversion rate would increase dramatically.
Apple recently came out with the iPhone 5s that included a fingerprint sensor allowing for numerous possibilities. A simple feature this fingerprint scanner offers is getting rid of the need for a password. This lowers the chance for buyer’s remorse when it cuts out the time you have to develop it. Apple currently receives roughly $10 billion in annual sales from iTunes purchases alone.
Shazam – Auto Scanner
You’ve probably used or heard of Shazam. It’s an app on your phone that tells you the information of a song being played. Open the app and press the big button in the middle. In seconds you’ll have the artist, name of the song, and the album name. You’ll even be able to download it via iTunes.
A problem Shazam recently recognized was there are times when their users want to know the information of multiple songs. For each song you wanted to know you had press the button to scan the song. Sometimes the song would be over by the time you got the phone out of your pocket, unlocked it, opened Shazam, and hit the button.
Shazam recently added a feature that simply improves but doesn’t change how their app works. You can now flip a switch while in the app that makes it continually scan for songs up to an hour. Just turn it on and put it in your pocket. When you turn your phone back on it will let you know the information of each song played and allow you to download them.
Square Cash – Mobile Payment made easy
The ability to pay or charge someone via your phone has become very popular. No more, “I don’t have any cash on me. I will pay you back next time I see you.” We all know that more than likely doesn’t happen. Mobiles apps like Venmo, Google Wallet, and Square Cash allow you to charge or pay someone without going to an ATM, Bank, or even writing a check—without being charge a fee.
All these mobile payment apps are great but Square Cash is the simplest. Google Wallet and Venmo require you to create an account to send or receive money. On the other hand, Square Cash you only have to have an account to receive money which means you could be at a table where people don’t have an account with any of the mobile payment apps and still get your friends to pay to right then and their through their debit card without any fee.
Simply innovating by making the process easier can give you an edge in a competitive market. With how quickly technology is changing the business world, it’s almost a necessity to innovate, or die. Just remember you don’t have to invent the next hot product, service, or software that everyone wants—you simply can improve an existing one.