Last week, Spectralink received three prestigious 2019 Mobile Star AwardsTM, recognizing our organization’s leadership in product and solution innovation. I was honored to be among them as the recipient of the Mobile Development Innovator award.
This recognition gave me an opportunity to reflect on how companies like Spectralink best approach innovation overall. With technology disrupting and redefining markets and business models at every turn, innovation has become a strategic priority for organizations in every industry. But what drives true innovation? What makes it work?
To help answer these questions, I reflected on my own experience leading innovative product and technology solutions as well as Spectralink’s approach to innovation in mobility solutions. I came away with three key insights that I think are core to innovation success for any organization: maintaining a customer-first focus, optimizing technology trends, and establishing a team approach.
Focus on customer-first innovation
Effective, meaningful innovation doesn’t happen by chance. It is the result of a very intentional approach to business that centers on continuously understanding and addressing everyday customer needs. The goal of innovation, in other words, isn’t to simply develop new technology for the sake of technology. It is to solve real customer challenges and limitations that affect critical strategic goals such as business growth, profitability, customer satisfaction, and competitive advantage. In the world of enterprise mobility, that involves addressing issues that affect workflow efficiency, team collaboration, management oversight, and so on.
A customer-first focus means innovation must always start with a thorough exploration of current customer needs and concerns. The goal is to not only identify what issues create problems for workers, but also why. This means digging down to the root cause or causes of each specific challenge, so that you can determine how best to resolve or improve upon it.
For example, poor voice quality is a significant and costly problem for customers in healthcare and manufacturing. In healthcare, it can lead to serious miscommunications among clinicians that can compromise patient care quality. And in manufacturing, it can reduce productivity by disrupting team communications that delay equipment maintenance and repairs.
At Spectralink, we worked with customers in each of these industry verticals to fully identify and assess the specific factors that disrupt voice quality among mobile workers; in short, we looked at the “why” behind the problem. Our findings became the catalyst for a number of critical innovations in our new Versity enterprise smartphone, including advanced voice quality features such as improved Wi-Fi roaming, noise reduction and echo cancellation. These advancements directly address many of the environmental challenges that disrupt voice quality in these demanding and noisy work environments.
Innovate to optimize technology trends
Innovation should never happen in a vacuum. Technology is constantly evolving and advancing, and a new development in one industry can create new opportunities for organizations in many others. This is particularly true in the era of digital transformation, which centers on the continuing convergence of new and emerging technologies to empower new possibilities in just about every industry. In enterprise mobility, for example, innovations in cloud, analytics, AI, IoT and other technologies can have a direct impact on current and future solution capabilities.
At Spectralink, our engineering and product teams are continuously monitoring the latest technology trends and advancements to inform our own solution innovation. We have dedicated teams, for example, that are focused on technologies in voice quality optimization to track new advancements and determine how those can apply to our products. We also have a team focused exclusively on application integration that stays on top of development trends, while also looking for opportunities to enhance and expand interaction across the entire application ecosystem.
These concentrated efforts and areas of focus allow us to leverage innovations from multiple industries and areas of technology to enhance and inspire our own solution set for customers.
Tap into the power of the team
The previous section leads naturally to this one because it highlights the diversity of ideas, experience and expertise that are needed to truly achieve successful innovation. Just as innovation can’t happen in a vacuum and ignore current industry trends, it also can’t happen in a silo excluding critical input and perspectives. Innovation requires a broad, cross-functional team of experts that include engineers, product managers, network specialists, operations managers and other professionals—to assess, troubleshoot, refine and execute on each new opportunity. Groundbreaking products like Versity only happen through the collaboration of a dedicated team.
And let me add, innovation is enhanced by extending your team beyond your own organization. At Spectralink, we work closely with our Application Integration and Management Solutions (AIMS) to continuously advance the mobile functionality and capabilities of our enterprise mobile solution partners. At the same time, our partners are able to leverage our unique device innovations to deliver their solutions to mobile workers.
This all leads back to the importance of customer focus, because ultimately, customers are a critical part of your team as well. Together we’re all working toward a shared goal of enhanced mobile communications, capabilities and outcomes.
No matter what your role or title may be, all of us, ultimately, are innovators. So don’t be afraid to question what is and to ask “what if?” Every time you do, you push the boundaries of what’s possible and help pave the way to what’s next for our organizations, our industries and our future.