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The Innovation Cycle: Where Are We?

(December 2009) posted on Tue Nov 24, 2009

Invention extension? Functional substitution? Find out what these concepts mean and how they apply to the screen-printing industry.

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By Mark A. Coudray

This brings me to the final point, the most important of all. It is relevance. For you to be successful and to remain successful, you have to be seen as highly relevant to your customers, clients, and market. As soon as you lose relevancy, you’re done. Simply focusing on technology does not make you relevant. It’s how your goods and services are used that’s important.

Your relationship to the people in the organizations you deal with is the cement that holds all of this together. All of us have been in the situation where we’ve lost a longtime account because the board of directors changed or a new buyer entered the scene with their own ideas and contacts. In these fragile economic and technologically challenging times, this is crucial to grasp.

Not only is it critical to remain relevant to the overall organization, you need to make yourself relevant to all those that surround your key decision makers. This is insurance against the loss of a key contact. No one is immune from downsizing or layoffs anymore. If one of your key contacts is the victim of such action, you many find yourself downsized right out the door too.

The whole concept of customer relationship management is something we’re all familar with, but rarely pay enough attention too. With change happening all around us, and demand remaining weak, the best use of your time is to further develop and strengthen your relationships within your customer base. The more you involve them in defining what’s important to them and to gain the complete understanding of how they use what you sell, the more secure you’ll be.

Nothing today is as it was. It seems the world is turned on it’s ear. What had value last year may be worthless today. But only if it’s lost relevance. To insulate yourself against the evolution (devolution) of the process, you have to look at what you do differently. Look from the perspective of your clients. What makes you valuable to them is your ability to completely understand how to maximize the relevance of the goods and services your deliver.

In this way, technology and markets may change. Product and market lifecycles will evolve. New processes will appear. None of that should come as a surprise. The key to survival is understanding how to be adaptive to these inevitable developments and to maintain rock solid connection to those that have given you business in the past. You are their expert advisor and your future depends on remaining so.

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