By Dr. Leah Sciabarrasi, Faculty Program Director for Master of Business Administration, Master of Science in Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in Technology and Data Analytics, Data Analytics Certificate, Leadership Certificate, and Project Management Certificate.
Technological innovation has had an immense impact on our daily lives. Mobile devices like iPads allow us to keep connected while on the go, we tell Alexa to play music in the house, our grandparents now FaceTime regularly from Florida, and driverless vehicles can now deliver our packages and take us where we want to go (Turakhia). Innovation has even enabled us to do things that were previously unimaginable – ReWalk robotics allows paraplegics to walk (Technology in our life today and how it has changed), TV listening devices allow those with hearing loss to watch their favorite programs, and, most recently, scientists have developed a device that helps a paralyzed man communicate through brain waves (Neergaard, 2021).
The COVID-19 pandemic also created the necessity for businesses to adapt to meet the needs of their secluded and distributed customer base. Restaurants shifted to delivery-only utilizing the recently developed food delivery apps like DoorDash and GrubHub (Sumagaysay, 2020), small businesses started leveraging customer relationship tools to engage and build their customer base, and many businesses, like Kombucha manufacturers, pivoted production to support the demand for hand sanitizer (Nerdwallet, 2021).
Technological innovation is now often the single most important competitive driver in many industries. Some firms receive more than one-third of their sales and profits from products developed within the past five years. Virtual banking is one industry that is harnessing innovation to reach its customers in new ways – not to provide new services, but as an enhancement of what it does best. It now allows us to deposit checks, transfer funds, and pay bills electronically. The integration of artificial intelligence allows people to check their balance by asking Alexa or be notified of a possible identity fraud (Conway, 2020).
Innovation creates value and relevancy for people. As society and customer expectations evolve, so must small businesses. As Andrea Coville, president of Brodeur Partners, and Paul B. Brown, a long-time contributor to The New York Times, say, “People are awash in choices about where to spend their money and place their loyalty. If you aren’t relevant, they will go somewhere else” (Cole, 2014). Companies must remain relevant, and innovating is one way to do so. Here are three steps for small businesses to strategically manage technological innovation.
- Source ideas.
Ideas can arise from many sources – individuals, teams, and entities. Small businesses can even harness their user and customer ideas to enhance their businesses and expand their products. In other cases, companies are forced to innovate to respond to a shift in the industry landscape by pivoting their businesses to make face shields, hand sanitizer, or new vaccines (Cohen & Cromwell, 2021), which can lead to just-in-time innovation and business expansion.
- Strategically managing technological innovation.
Strategic management is the ongoing planning, tracking, analysis, and assessment of all the actions an organization needs to meet its goals. Leaders break down companywide priorities into department goals and then department managers set the objectives for their teams, assign work to individual members, track progress, and make course corrections when needed. Just as managers set goals for their employees, they also must set goals for their technology. How can technology be deployed to assist their department and organization achieve its goals? Leaders need to create a culture for innovation and the space for their staff to utilize new tools and develop new ways of working. Verizon, Qualcomm, and Ford are some of the big-name companies that run hackathons to solve problems (Hartigan, 2014) and small businesses can use similar brainstorming strategies to generate ideas and solutions. Besides encouraging new product development, employees should be encouraged to expand their existing portfolio of products.
- Budget for innovation.
More than just ideas, companies and leaders need to back innovation financially. Budgets sometimes require new funding models for innovative initiatives. While costs should be considered from an annual operations budgeting perspective, funding can also be obtained from grants, funders, and donors. Sustainable funding will help create a steady stream of technology innovation for years to come.
At Excelsior College, we offer business undergraduate and graduate programs, and we welcome both traditional and non-traditional students:
Bachelor of Professional Studies in Business Management and
Bachelor of Science in Business Management
Master of Business Administration
Master of Science in Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in Data Analytics and Technology
Rapid technological changes and global challenges impacting small businesses have exponentially increased the need for innovation and the importance of big data and analytics to drive strategy. Consider Excelsior College’s Master of Science in Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in Technology and Data Analytics program , which gives you specialized knowledge in global leadership, technology, and data analytics so that you can effectively lead your business through transformational changes. Gain practical knowledge you can use immediately as you develop your professional expertise through a curriculum emphasis on the effective use of technology and data analytics. We also offer a Graduate Certificate in Data Analytics to help experienced leaders layer in technology, visualization, and data analytics into their decision-making and persuasion power.
Our courses layer in value-added components that set this program and certificate apart. Besides much of the course discussions involving case studies, in each new course we develop, we are collaborating with an industry partner on the final project. For example, we collaborated with Hebeler LLC, a global supplier of Modular Process Systems for several energy markets, in BUS 540 so students can complete a final project where they formulate a technological innovation strategy to support some of Hebeler’s expansion challenges. Students will also gain some real-world experience with techniques, languages, and tools, like Tableau, for experiential learning in mining and visualizing data.
- Cohen, A. K., & Cromwell, J. R. (2021). How to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic with more creativity and innovation. Population Health Management, 24(2), 153-155.
- Cole, S. (2014, April 2). 3 ways to make your company relevant. Fast Company. Retrieved May 12, 2022, from https://www.fastcompany.com/3028544/3-ways-to-make-your-company-relevant
- Conway, K. M. (2020, November 3). How does innovation impact society? Financial Services Blog. Retrieved May 12, 2022, from https://financialservicesblog.accenture.com/how-does-innovation-impact-society
- Hartigan, M. (2014, May 14). Why do big companies do hackathons? Fast Company. Retrieved May 12, 2022, from https://www.fastcompany.com/3030628/why-do-big-companies-do-hackathons
- KPMG. (n.d.). Managing technology innovation. KPMG. Retrieved May 12, 2022, from https://assets.kpmg/content/dam/kpmg/us/pdf/2019/09/managing-technology-innovation.pdf
- Neergaard, L. (2021, July 14). Device Taps Brain Waves to help paralyzed man communicate. AP NEWS. Retrieved May 12, 2022, from https://apnews.com/article/technology-science-health-2034d0fff5e63a83b7add3e991df79b1
- Nerdwallet, R. K. O. (2021, June 10). 4 small-business innovations that will outlast the pandemic. AP NEWS. Retrieved May 12, 2022, from https://apnews.com/article/health-coronavirus-pandemic-technology-lifestyle-business-f6e0047d058b115e48f7a3b63ec94544
- Schilling, M. (2020). Strategic Management of Technological Innovation. McGraw Hill Education. New York, NY. [p. 10]
- Sumagaysay, L. (2020, November 25). The pandemic has more than doubled food-delivery apps’ business. now what? MarketWatch. Retrieved May 12, 2022, from https://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-pandemic-has-more-than-doubled-americans-use-of-food-delivery-apps-but-that-doesnt-mean-the-companies-are-making-money-11606340169
- Technology in our life today and how it has changed – updated for 2022. AgingInPlace.org. (2022, January 17). Retrieved May 12, 2022, from https://aginginplace.org/technology-in-our-life-today-and-how-it-has-changed/
- Turakhia, B. (n.d.). Top 10 technological advances of the past decade. Flock. Retrieved May 12, 2022, from https://blog.flock.com/top-technological-advances-of-the-2010s