When it comes to developing new tech ideas, competition is fierce. While there are some mainstays in the industry (namely the Big 4 of Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Apple), they tend to be the exception and not the rule.
In an industry where fortunes are made and lost overnight, you need to foster the right culture to stay on top.
Companies, whether pure tech or just trying to develop a competitive edge in their field, constantly need to find new ways for their research and development departments to come up with innovative ideas.
The good news is that there are ways to ensure your company will keep producing technologies to give you a leg up over your competition. In this article I will go over a few methods to help with your strategy.
Competition drives innovation. If you are worried about your competitors , it will light a fire under you to be better than they are. If you already have a high market cap, you may not feel the incentive to either speed up development of new tech or improve your existing products.
Competition is vital, even internally. If you find yourself in a niche market with few competitors, then you need to create a competitive environment in your workplace. This can be done by giving your employees some incentive. Offer them bonuses or the ability to win extra days holidays for breakthroughs on projects. You could even split them into teams and reward those who make the most progress.
Take a leaf out of the non-profit sector’s book. Initiatives like the Kirk Global Challenge, set up by entrepreneur Ewan Kirk, offer cash prizes to students who create the best new technology to solve a problem in a developing country. This can be a powerful way to innovate and solve tech problems.
Outsourcing, particularly when done abroad, has a bit of a bad name. When done correctly it can provide a means to have proprietary tech for your company, without having your own in-house development team. This can be costly, particularly if you are a growing company.
It’s no secret that many successful tech companies have used this method. Even some big players in the market such as Slack, Opera and Skype have made use of overseas dev teams to produce their platforms and are now worth billions.
Some see this as taking jobs away from locals and associate it with a decline in the quality of service, but when such big names have seen success with it, your company likely has little to worry about with regards to bad press.
Creativity might not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of a traditional tech company. However, when you are trying to develop new products, either for your business or consumers, hiring creatives could make or break you.
When you are looking through CVs for your next hire, don’t just look at their credentials in terms of how good of a programmer or engineer they are. Instead, look at their hobbies and get to know them as a person in the interview. If they have a desire to create, they will be more engaged with your projects if it allows them to do something they already enjoy doing in their spare time.
With creative staff on board, this should be no issue. Some of the greatest technological innovations of our day have occurred under intense limitations. One such example of this is GE Healthcare’s MAC 400 Electrocardiograph. The engineers were given just 18 months and a budget of $500,000 to develop the product, much less than GE’s usual budget or timeframe. They managed to make a product that revolutionised access to healthcare and created an ECG for hard to reach rural communities.
Placing constraints on your team ties them together under a common goal. Likewise, it forces them to think outside the box. Time constraints in particular mean quick decisions are made because there simply isn’t any time for second-guesses.
In a competitive market, whether it’s through your own creation of incentives or actual intense competition in your industry, developing new tech is difficult. However, with the ease of outsourcing development and the ability to hire employees with both creative and technical minds, you will make huge leaps forward in the process. When you add creative limitation to the mix, you will be surprised at the projects your staff will complete.