As a tech geek and all-around brand nerd, there are few
questions that make me more excited than this one. And instead of
tackling the answer in terms of traditional brands or products, I
prefer the lens of the wonderful world of video games.
Why video games you ask? Consider this: the video gaming
industry is facing the most competitive and defining period it’s
ever faced. Fifteen years ago, the question was “should our system
support a cartridge or a disk?” Ten years ago, it was “should our
system connect to the internet?” Over the past five years, the
question has become “should we have a system?” Remember when
Microsoft blew our minds by making you the controller? That’s what
I consider innovation.
These hardware changes are in direct response to the fracturing
definition of a “gamer.” As publishers increasingly reach out to
casual gamers through smartphones, tablets, and cloud-based
systems, the Baby Boomer Words with Friends addict is just
as loyal and engaged with their gaming community as their Call
of Duty: Modern Warfare colleagues.
This quickly morphing demographic has changed the methods and
speeds at which their products are consumed. It’s changed the way
publishers create new titles, the make-up of their work force, and
how they encourage development of the best ideas. Companies like
Electronic Arts, who will probably keep pumping out Madden and FIFA
titles until 2050, have been put on notice by the increasingly
nimble likes of Zynga and PopCap Games.
Innovation in the tech space has always been an imperative. In
their realm, if you’re not thinking about innovating, you’re
already obsolete. However, most companies in other industries have
the exact same responsibility to innovate, but don’t recognize the
necessity since it doesn’t look the same. They create departments
and leaders to “run innovation,” but don’t invest in systems,
processes, and people that help reward and encourage innovative
ideas to rise to the top.
While the large impact of small decisions is noteworthy and
exciting, constant company-wide innovation requires more than than
a few good meetings in the C-suite. Moving toward an
innovation-friendly environment requires investing real capital
into unexpected aspects of a company’s infrastructure.
Everyone marvels at Google’s offices, but the concept is
paradoxically simple and revolutionary: meet all employee needs
first. Likewise with the Zappos, Twitters, and Facebooks of the
world. After all, the less time spent figuring out where to go to
lunch, the more time can be devoted to figuring out a better way to
structure Gmail’s user interface.
My point is not that an awesome office space can breed
innovation. It’s the domino effect caused by companies adapting to
meet the needs of a delocalized workforce by reimagining what an
office space should offer. These companies saw an innovation
opportunity in spending the money on slides and full time DJs,
which impacted their bottom line. The tangible gains that came from
the resulting well-polished brand halo internally (attracting
top-tier talent) and externally (constant innovation in the tech
space) were huge.
And this brings us back to the original question: How would you
The relentless desire to encourage the best for your customers
and your company. And making a kick-ass video game every once in a
Image courtesy of ze_bear
(flickr); permission being requested.