Innovation is perhaps an over used word in business today. Often high up on corporate agendas and discussed endlessly in boardrooms, innovation is something which is talked about a lot but in reality very rarely happens. I’ve not spent that long in the corporate world and to be fair the majority of our clients are not corporate entities either. But considering the issue of CDs versus digital downloads, which has been at the forefront of my mind and indeed our business for a while now prompted me to think about the whole question of innovation.
What is Innovation?
According to a business dictionary, Innovation is….
The process of translating an idea or invention into a good or service that creates value or for which customers will pay.
To be called an innovation, an idea must be replicable at an economical cost and must satisfy a specific need. Innovation involves deliberate application of information, imagination and initiative in deriving greater or different values from resources, and includes all processes by which new ideas are generated and converted into useful products. In business, innovation often results when ideas are applied by the company in order to further satisfy the needs and expectations of the customers.
Why do businesses need to innovate?
This is a good question and the answer will depend on who you ask. The people in charge will say you should innovate because the theory is this makes you better than the competition. The middle managers will say you should innovate because it gives them something to do and look busy with. This in turn means they can they seem worthy of promotion as they have ‘managed an innovation’. The people on the shop floor, who are usually the only ones who actually do any work, will say that innovation is needed in order to further the company and better serve the needs of the customers.
Recordings 4 Schools is just a small company and so we do not employ management structures, nor do we spend time sitting in an ivory tower having meetings – although we do rather like the opportunity to have biscuits! Surely that’s all that meetings are for anyway?
The point is that for us innovation is not an excuse for having a meeting. Nor is it something to make a fuss about or try and claim we are the first or the best or unique. A friend once told me that she was frustrated by people who claimed something as ‘completely unique’… Either it is unique or it isn’t! Anyway I digress. My view, for what it is worth, is that businesses should innovate or look to change in order to improve their offering to the client. This might be something which makes them more efficient, it might be something which reduces costs for the client or it might be something which gives the client a better end solution.
There are many reasons why a company should innovate and many benefits which could come from that. I wanted to look at how we view innovation here at Recordings 4 Schools.
What innovations are planned for Recordings 4 Schools?
Anyone who reads some of my posts on here, (does anyone read this?) will know that our main theme for 2019 is developing a new means of distributing audio files. Since we started recording in 2003 we have always recorded digitally when out on location. The files are then mastered and manipulated digitally but the end product has always been a physical CD. Albeit that a CD contains digital files and the ‘CD master’ is in fact just a collection of files which we send to the production house.
The issue is that over the past couple of years we have heard more and more people say that they are moving away from CDs to playing audio on their smartphones or iPods or similar devices. With the rise of Spotify and Apple Music this is hardly surprising and so the important thing is that we move with the times. With this in mind, our innovation is to include access to digital files with all our CDs. For schools particularly we have found that there are still significant benefits of having a physical product to sell. But to answer the issue of people not being able to play CDs, we also include free access to the digital files with every CD purchased.
Whether this counts as innovation I’m not sure, but it is a new development for Recordings 4 Schools and definitely something important for us to embrace. As to exactly how we develop this innovation will depend not on us having a meeting but on feedback from our customers. So as the saying goes, watch this space.