How can a company be ahead of its competition nowadays? What are consumers expecting from a company? We’re sharing 5 tips for your company or the company you work to bet and start innovating.

1 – Mix New Technologies And Benefit From Being An Innovative Company

company leading innovative technological trends

It’s hard to be on the cutting edge nowadays without paying attention to new technologies nowadays. Blockchain, big data, virtual reality, nanotechnology… All these trends will certainly be at the center of many companies innovating strategies for 2019 and for the coming years. However, being an innovative company that’s ahead of its time does not necessarily mean indulging in all these technological revolutions. Instead, the challenge is to manage and integrate these new technologies in a way that adds value to the company.

For several years, we’ve seen new technologies creating mixed expectations and perceptions among citizens. Although they’re a symbol of hope, efficiency, and sophistication, they’re also often a source of fear. For example, the Internet is seen today as an essential tool. Still, many see the issues of data protection with concern. Therefore, companies wanting to bet on technological innovations need to seriously reflect on the pros and cons of transforming their businesses.

Let’s take blockchain, for instance. It works as a great tool for traceability and transparency. It can help a company better controlling its production chains and guaranteeing the origin of the products it markets and the efficiency of the services it offers. Nonetheless, it also has some negative effects. It spends a huge amount of energy and works as an infinite source of speculation that’s able to disconnect the economy from reality. If we think about big data, it has the potential to open new horizons in areas such as HR, supply chain, marketing or business strategy. However, it needs to comply with GDPR’s new regulation and manage data securely to restore consumer’s confidence.

In this way, the challenge for companies wanting to be at the forefront in 2019 and beyond is probably to find positive ways of using these technologies. Discover on which ones to bet to both to improve business and to contribute to creating a better society.  We’ve discussed using nano-technologies for eco-design, increasing energy efficiency by using big data or betting on blockchain as a traceability tool. But there are plenty of different scenarios – it’s up to you find them out and choose the one that’s most appropriate.

2 – Change The Usual Communication For A Real Talk And Be A Leading Company

company leading innovative real talk

In a world where information flows increasingly fast, communication is key for companies. How can we advertise our product or service and create a brand identity? How shall we attract and retain clients and build an online and offline presence? Companies have been asking these and other questions. Especially the medium-large sized ones, they need to have a communication strategy. In fact, communication departments also had to change and adapt to plenty of recent developments in the way we communicate. New communication channels like the internet and social networks demanded new learnings and strategies that are nowadays the norm. Still, the growing popularity of videos and live streamings are again demanding a new approach.

But one thing remains the same: communication is still done “top-down”. This means organizations structure their communication strategy and deploy it to consumers afterward. There’s nothing wrong about it, except that it may be hard to get feedback and understand clients’ real expectations. So what if companies switched from communicating to having a real talk? What if your company started using social media’s power to meet your customers’ real expectations? It’s a great way to understand consumer needs and give them great real-time customer support.

Hence, if companies start using consumers’ insights more it’ll become easier to create new offers and develop an identity that’s more tuned with society. But for it to be possible, traditional channels of communication need to be used as channels of discussion too. And processes to analyze and understand the returns achieved by getting customers feedback need to be considered as well. At the same time, social networks can be used a stakeholder engagement monitoring tool. And why not follow examples of co-creation such as Lego’s, where customers are invited to join and suggested the design of new products? Let your customers and consumers raise their voice. Hear them up. Have a real talk.

3 – Adapt The Business Model (And The Customer Journey) To Match Consumer Expectations

company leading innovative consumer expectations coffee

One of the main consumer trends in 2019 is the transformation of expectations. As consumers, but also as citizens, people expect different things from businesses. They’re not just expecting innovations on products (becoming digital) or services (with more immersive experiences). They’re also having a more clear vision of the impacts of their consumption. Thus, people want to know how what they buy is being produced as well as what are its impacts on health, on society, on the environment, and on the local economy. They want to understand how fairly profits are being distributed among the various actors in the production and supply chains.

Many companies with recent success stories have taken in these new expectations. While some focus on proving transparency like SouthWest Airlines, others, like Whole Foods, focus on internal social topics like the gender gap. There are still the ones who stand out even more, like Patagonia, that shows up plenty of information about the suppliers they choose, the materials they use and their overall social and environmental impact. In fact, companies that respect the planet and add value to society have growth rates above traditional brands. In this way, companies wanting to be on the cutting edge need to rethink their business model and integrate consumers’ new expectations: more quality, traceability, and positive impact.

4 – Focus On Authenticity And Transparency To Be A Leading Company

company leading innovative transparency authenticity

Studies are showing that consumers are turning more into brands they see as authentic and transparent. According to the Consumer Content Report from Stackla, 86% of consumers consider that a brand’s authenticity is fundamental in their decision to buy. A figure that rises to 90% if we just consider millennials. As well, 20% of consumers actually stopped following brands they didn’t consider to be genuine, according to the same source.

However, the consumption world is still full of cloudiness and ambiguity. For instance, people don’t know what are the ingredients and materials of the products they buy. In fact, 80% of Americans come across conflicting information about food and nutrition. At the same time, 60% of American consumers think it’s important to buy and consume products produced in a sustainable way. In short, consumers are now looking for brands that are authentic, have quality products and worry about the planet.

The same happens in communication. Corporate communication today is often hard to understand and full of corporate jargon. Even on social networks, communication is often standardized and paid or sponsored, frequently via influencers. Spontaneity and authenticity seem to be a missing element on the way companies communicate. To leave this impasse, companies need to be more authentic and transparent. They need to say what they do, how they do it and why they do it. This way, consumers can identify more easily with the brand’s values and connect to the company’s mission. For instance, if Patagonia’s mission wasn’t clear enough, they’ve recently changed it to: we’re in business to save our home planet. As well, McDonalds Canada idea of creating an open, two-way communication website page to clear out consumers doubts is a great example of transparency.

5 – Find Your (Company’s) Purpose

company leading innovative find purpose why

Or as Simon Sinek would put it: find your why. The truth is that companies taking the lead in 2019 will be the ones that know why they exist, i.e, the ones knowing why they are in business besides making a profit. According to a recent Accenture survey, nearly two-thirds of customers want organizations to stand on current and broadly relevant issues. From sustainability to fair employment practices… Transparency about companies’ environmental and social concerns leaves them better positioned to engage with consumers. And if a company is in just for profit, then it better find a deeper “why”.

So we’ve realized that today, more and more citizens consider that a company’s role is not just about selling products and being profitable. They must also be meaningful businesses that have a positive impact on the world by creating shared value and protecting the environment. As well, internally, employees are also looking forward to having a job with a purpose. It will make them feel more engaged and, therefore, be more productive.

Reflect on these 5 trends to follow in 2019. They’ll help your company or the company you work for to be more innovative and lead the way!

Image credits to real talk on Shutterstock, new technologies on Shutterstock, transparency on Shutterstock, business purpose on Shutterstock and coffee production on Shutterstock