When many organizations hear the word innovation, the first word that comes to mind is risk. We’re not going to lie to you — in many ways, innovation is inherently risky. Yet, if you try to stuff the concept of innovation into your basement closet and ignore it altogether, sooner than later your business will become completely irrelevant as the industry evolves around you.
So, why is innovation risky? It’s characterized by an inherent uncertainty driven by the fact that new ideas may fail when operationalized and thrown into the market. Toying with an idea on your whiteboard isn’t where the risk lies. Rather, risk comes into play when you consider investing both time and money into the idea to turn that idea into a digital product that may fall flat on its face — and hence, result in a significant loss of resources if you can’t find a way to efficiently repurpose your initial resource investment.
Despite the inherent risks associated with innovation, innovation is essential to ensure your business won’t become obsolete. If you just continue doing the same thing you’ve always done, competitors are going to enter the market, take on the risks you were never willing to assume yourself, and put a product in market that’s better than what you’re able to offer. So, if you want to keep moving your business through all stages of venture development, you need to innovate despite the potential risks.
But don’t worry, we’re here to help you navigate through the wild world of innovating and building the next great thing. While the process of innovating isn’t without extreme uncertainty, there are several things you can do as a business owner or entrepreneur to mitigate the risks associated with innovation. Here are a few.
One of the best ways to reduce risk is to do all in your power to validate your idea before dumping an abundance of resources into bringing it to market. Idea validation refers to the process of collecting data to assess the extent to which your idea will play out as anticipated when it finally lands into the hands of consumers in your target market. Without working through the validation process your idea has no legs because you don’t truly understand the extent to which your core assumptions and hypotheses underlying product-market fit will hold.
Idea validation can help you to reduce risk through making it easier to efficiently bring your product to market and alleviating some of the uncertainty associated with whether or not your target audience will respond positively towards your product. Idea validation isn’t merely something that you can check off a to-do list. Rather, it’s an ongoing process that you need to engage in to continue to pressure test the latest version of your idea against the realities of the market.
Another great way to reduce risk is to seek user feedback and conduct user testing throughout the design and development process. User testing is a critical part of the development process, as it enables you to evaluate the functionality, usability, design and user experience of a product by allowing users to test your product in real time. This testing process reduces risk, as it enables you to catch potential issues with the product early on, which could ultimately lead to app failure if they are not addressed.
Forgoing user testing is dangerous, as it means that you may spend months or even years developing a product, only to realize that it’s not even close to what the user actually wants or needs. User testing isn’t a one time occurrence, but rather something that you need to consistently do throughout the design and development process. While user testing is absolutely essential to cut down on risk, it can also be extensive. So if you’re working within a limited budget, check out our article on budget-friendly ways to conduct user testing.
While it takes a lot of time, money, and effort to get your product to the point of launch, this isn’t the end of the road. It’s just the beginning. The most exciting part about launching your product is that you can finally get it into the hands of consumers and start collecting real data. You can then use this data to help you make informed decisions about the future product and feature development roadmap.
Investing in product improvements following the initial launch of your product can help you to reduce business risk in several ways. First, it reduces the security risk of users accessing an outdated version of your product. You always want to make sure that your digital product itself is up to date in alignment with the latest security standards. Second, it reduces the risk of business failure that stems from a failure to continue to advance the product in alignment with the pace of the market. When the competitive landscape continues to move forward, you too need to invest in subsequent feature development and product enhancements to remain competitive in an ever changing digital product development landscape.
In an ideal world, you hit the nail on the head right out of the gate and design a killer product that users come to love. However, the reality of the situation is that despite countless hours invested in user research and testing, sometimes it’s simply impossible to predict how users will respond when you put your product into market.
If your launch and subsequent product optimization attempts don’t go as planned, one of the keys to risk reduction stems from a willingness to pivot. As a digital entrepreneur, you need to be willing to be flexible. Sometimes your biggest success will come from a willingness to throw your initial ideas out the window in response to real-time market feedback that drives you to pivot. Observe key post-launch KPIs, internalize the market feedback you’re getting, and pivot your product accordingly when needed. Your willingness to pivot when the market drives you to do so will remove a lot of risk from the product development process over time.
While the guidelines that we provided throughout this article can serve as a great starting point to reduce the risks associated with innovation, another great way to reduce risk is to work with a team of experts (like us here at Camber Creative!) who have successfully brought digital products to market time and time again.
Having experienced partners like Camber Creative at your disposal can wildly reduce risks traditionally incurred through the design and development process, as we’ve aggregated core learnings from prior product launches to understand what it truly takes to establish product-market fit. If you’re eager to get started with building a new digital product and reducing risk throughout the process, reach out to our team today to see if we’re the right fit to help you bring your product to market.