Innovation key to future success

For the Cayman Islands to go forward, business leaders must begin to be innovators and develop in non-traditional industries such as medical tourism and technology.
 
We’ve seen some innovative business ideas come forth in the examples of the Da Vinci Centre for Wellness and Alternative Therapies, Dr. Devi Shetty’s planned Narayana Cayman University Medical Center and even in the way that Camana Bay attracts customers and clients to its city within a city to work, shop and play.
 
The leaders of these and other innovative businesses have been successful by thinking outside the proverbial box.
 
They found a way to identify the best set of unmet customer requirements or technological innovations.
 
For example the Da Vinci Centre has taken medical care to the next level by meeting customers’ needs.
 
“We discreetly serve those who expect the best and by combining artistry with the science of preventative medicine,” states the Da Vinci Centre. “The Da Vinci Centre helps individuals look younger and live longer, happier lives.  We extend the optimum facility to match our unparalleled service.  We offer a peaceful and relaxing spa-like atmosphere where genuine concern for the patient is paramount.”
 
Camana Bay has taken the concept of a mixed-use master plan to develop the Town of Camana Bay. It’s being developed over several decades with the plan that it will flourish for decades to come.
 
The design philosophy behind Camana Bay is based on New Urbanism, which promotes walkable communities with a mix of housing, shops, civic space, schools and parks.
The ideas behind innovative businesses are rarely created; rather they’re born.
 
Companies do, however, use certain tactics to ensure creativity in their operations and many times planning leads to innovative new business ideas.

Brainstorm
Those tactics can include informal brainstorming where employees are encouraged to participate in discussions in which multiple ideas may pop up. After much discussion the best ideas will survive.
 
Such discussions are held daily at businesses throughout the Cayman Islands.
 
The new look of this edition of the Chamber magazine was developed through many brainstorming sessions and discussions about meeting client’s needs and getting the Chamber message across effectively.
 
“The Chamber magazine is a product we have been happy with, but one that we collectively thought could use a revamp,” said Cayman Free Press Business Manager Teritia Peart.
 
Another Cayman Free Press product, Key to Cayman, also received a design refresher following roundtable discussions between the writers, sales representatives who listen to the advertising clients, graphic designers, publisher and editor.
 
Cayman Free Press is constantly tweaking products following formal and informal discussions in an effort to be more innovative with its many products.
 
Customers can also help businesses come up with innovative ideas.
 
One of the best ways to get customers to buy in to your business is to identify their likes and dislikes through surveys that address their choices for the company’s as well as competitors’ products.
 
Cayman Free Press recently hired international survey firm Nielsen to identify the readership of its products in the market place in comparison to various other media but to also try and understand the areas of interest that readers wanted in order that they could look to innovating and developing their products to meet clients’ and readers’ needs.
 
“Knowing your customers precisely and the most effective ways to reach them are the keys to unlocking profitability,” said Peart.

Competition
Innovative companies also keep up with what the competition is doing. Many new ideas have been born when companies studied their competitor’s products, found problem areas and came up with ways to overcome them to improve their own businesses.
 
And competition isn’t just the business down the street or across town, especially with the popularity of the Internet and social media.
 
Use social media to monitor or track not only what people say about you, but also what they say about your competitor. If there isn’t a clear and consistent difference, refine your offering until it is unique.
 
When discussing innovative ideas, it is incumbent on businesses to keep in mind how to get the right exposure through the various forms of electronic media.
 
Use social media to have a conversation with your customers about something that matters and reflects well on your brand. This kind of marketing can make a social or environmental impact and can be the best way to get people passionately engaged with your brand.
 
Think about how social media can kill your business proposition and embrace that threat. Newspapers have survived the challenge to print by embracing the web, not resisting it. Whenever you read about or try a new technology, ask yourself how it could add value to your business; because if you don’t, your competitor will.
 
Social media should also be used to monitor the problems people are complaining about and find ways to solve those problems.
 
Businesses can also use good analytical tools to discover the patterns in who goes to their site, how they get there and what they look for once they’re there. Think about how you can create different versions of your products or services that appeal to these specific niches and develop different marketing plans and promotions for each one.
 
Business owners and managers should make it a habit to scan trade publications in multiple countries for new product announcements.
 
New and innovative ideas can also come from extensive study and research.
 
Many innovative ideas are born as a part of market research or study conducted by the marketers analysing general market trends, business cycles and changes in market behaviour and business strategies of competing firms.

Silly Putty
Many businesses looking for innovative ways to improve their product can take a lesson from Silly Putty.
 
It was one of the most successful toys of the 20th Century. Children of all ages loved it because it bounced, stretched and copied. Silly Putty is a lesson that there should be an element of fun in any business. Those who enjoy their work and have fun will be more successful.
 
Businesses also need to be flexible like Silly Putty. Employees should be encouraged to continually learn new skills and learn how to multi-task.
 
Silly Putty was invented in a General Electric lab in 1943 when an engineer was trying to develop an inexpensive substitute for synthetic rubber for the World War II effort. The putty was sent to engineers throughout the world to see if they could find a use for it. None could.
 
Six years later Peter Hodgson saw Silly Putty as a potential toy. After it became successful as a toy, practical uses were found for the stretchy stuff. It was used on an Apollo 8 flight to fasten down tools during the craft’s weightless period and used by athletes to strengthen their grip. The lesson shows that businesses must welcome new ideas and challenges to help their companies grow.
 
Innovators must also be willing to take risks, as Hodgson did. He was unemployed and in debt by $12,000. He borrowed $147 for the initial production of Silly Putty as a toy. That was in 1950. He died at the age of 64 in 1976 and his estate was worth $140 million. And last, but not least, once your business has developed an innovative plan it is incumbent that you communicate.
 
How you communicate with people will make a difference and help determine whether you get their attention.
 
Silly Putty didn’t go anywhere until a written description of it appeared in a New Haven, Conn., Block Shop toy store catalogue. It was offered in a clear, compact case for $2.
 
The bouncing putty outsold every item in the catalogue except one – a box of hexagonal Crayola crayons.

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