Innovation: the key to growth today.


We constantly hear that the economy is going through a slump, and how the downslide has impacted businesses negatively. Conditions are not conducive for business growth and so on. However, the actual cause of any ‘slump’ or business failure in most cases is not ‘economic meltdown.’ On the contrary, it is often the inability on the part of the business to acclimatize themselves with the new age business environment. It is a well-known fact that stagnation can’t foster growth. Businesses go down when they stop paying attention to innovation in their efforts to connect with their target audiences. You can’t keep attracting the customers over a longer period of time with the same marketing approach and activities.

In the 21st century, innovation has become more critical than ever. This emphasis is created by the plethora of identical service/product offerings from several providers. There are a number of industry verticals wherein the perceived slump is more widespread than the others.

Automobiles Everyone is aware that car sales are going down. However, the number of people wanting to use cars is on the rise. This is amply proven by the rise of Ola/Uber in the country. The differentiating factor here is the superior level of comfort and transparency. The taxi market in India is currently valued at close to $9 billion, but, only $500 million of that market is covered by the organized sector. Cab aggregators Ola and Uber jointly make up for half of the organized sector cab market in the country.[1]

Restaurants Restaurant owners lament how they are staring at empty tables. However, it is not as if people are becoming averse to restaurant food. Home delivery of food by food delivery apps like Swiggy is on the rise. It is the convenience of eating their favourite food at home that is driving food-lovers away from the restaurant tables. By not innovating their services, the restaurateurs are losing their market share.

Real Estate All over the country, commercial real-estate projects are coming up at a rapid pace. Yet, the occupancy rate in most new commercial buildings remains low. On the other hand, the expanding economy has led to a proliferation of start-ups fueling the demand for co-working spaces.

Hospitality Hotels are battling low to dismal occupancies whereas the travel sector is flourishing. Innovative travel start-ups such as OYO and Airbnb are gaining rapid ground since they offer economical and need based stay options for the travelers.

Coaching Education sector in India is extremely competitive and seats in top colleges/institutions are highly coveted. Yet, the coaching centres are finding it difficult to find students. On the other hand, online learning platforms are teeming with learners. The freedom from fixed class timings and the need to travel to the physical coaching centres is attracting the digital age learners.

Telecom The cell phone call rates have gone down drastically. Most of the operators offer unlimited free calls with their rental plans. However, the bills are sustained by the proliferation of internet and the increased data consumption.

Retail Retail chain stores as well as individually owned local retail outlets keep going out of business. On the other hand, the online retailers enjoy steady double digit growth selling the same products that the offline retailers struggle to find customers for.

There is one commonality among all the verticals referenced above. The traditional operators are facing a stiff challenge despite there being ample demand and traction in the relevant markets. The truth is out in the open. It is time that the established traditional businesses deal with the elephant in the room. They have not moved forward in sync with the changing times, and that is the core reason for their lagging behind in this phase when the markets are witnessing a dynamic transition. There is hardly any business area where digital innovation has not made inroads. Unlike the past, when sales used to be solely need based, these days, it is all about ‘experiential.’ Today’s customers need to find services that match their parameters. It is the brands that need to innovate and adapt in order to survive.

In conclusion

The 21st century buyers need companies to innovate, offer them better and quicker solutions at terms dictated by buyers instead of sellers. If a hotelier sticks to offering the rooms at a high cost or a tutor makes it compulsory for his students to attend his coaching classes everyday at the appointed hour, there is bound to be a concern. It is this element of flexibility and innovation that can make or break a contemporary business.

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