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Who Really Controls Innovation?

Right now we're beginning to see history repeat itself for business innovation strategy

13Oct

Five years ago, the press were triumphantly declaring the victory of marketing over control of social media for brands. Social tools, it was noted, were essential to improving customer experiences and customer service, and custodianship needed to be moved from IT divisions to the communication experts in marketing.

Whether this was:

  1. true, and/or
  2. a good idea

                               ... is up for debate.

Now the truism is to say that social belongs to every aspect of business and should not be so heavily controlled by marketing. Indeed the 'poor performance' of social presences for some brands could in part be attributed to gimmicky, artificial campaigns rather than genuine engagement, facilitating streamlined business practice.

...social belongs to every aspect of business and should not be so heavily controlled by marketing...

Right now we're beginning to see history repeat itself for business innovation strategy. While it's certainly true that marketing as a sector is ripe for disruption, and could well benefit from facilitating innovation development, giving marketing divisions total control of innovation for a brand is tantamount to starting a toy store on an iceberg. It might look pretty and eclectic, but it's not selling anything and it just might sink.

Much like social media, innovation can be deployed in a manner that helps change audience behaviours and improves business productivity. But it needs to be handled carefully. And setting the agenda for innovation development should happen across the firm, not just in marketing domains. While the outcomes of innovation may help drive sales or grow a business, the effectiveness of innovation in firms is dependent on practical, thorough stakeholder engagement.

As such, control of innovation development in firms probably needs to sit between operations and strategy management, rather than in marketing divisions. It helps to be able to see things through a marketing lens, but locating innovation facilitation entirely within marketing could blind a firm to the opportunities for process improvement throughout the organization, and render innovation initiatives as jejune gimmickery.

Brands have an opportunity now, at the birth of the business innovation revolution, to be forward-thinking in their approach to facilitating innovation. Now is not the time to assume that marketing have all the answers. What's needed is education across senior management on the process of incubating innovation, the advantages of 'fast failure', and the sustainability of an agile business.

Who do you think should REALLY control innovation?

Sources

Anthony J James is Chief Innovation & Growth Officer @ DDB, he is a C-Level, international marketing transformation executive specialising in creative, digital, brand positioning, and innovative global B2B and B2C solutions focussed on GROWTH @ajinnovator

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