Innovation matters: How dynamic SMEs can add years to their lives


By Haider Salloum, SMB Director, Microsoft Gulf, @HaiderSalloum

Did you know that only 12.2% of the Fortune 500 companies in 1955 were still on the list in 2014? That means 87.8% haven’t been able to maintain their success or enjoy real longevity. The reason for this is more dynamic business models and services offerings are entering the market at a rapid rate.

It is the companies that manage to keep innovating that in turn manage to stay relevant and profitable. SMEs are in the prime position to capitalise on this because of their ability to adapt quickly.

That doesn’t mean every SME is assured a long lifespan. If you want to create dynamism and relevance in your business you need to be investing in finding new ways to add value to evolving customer needs. You have to ensure that the rate of change within your business exceeds external change – and this is where innovation is key.

The best way to encourage an environment of innovation is to make it easy for your employees to build networks by talking to their peers, sharing ideas and collaborating. This is the first step to creating a modern workplace and is enhanced by tapping into the ubiquity of the cloud.

The cloud allows you to shift from a world of individual creation, to real-time, anytime, anywhere collaboration, without the need for a big investment in infrastructure. Microsoft’s tools like private social network, Yammer; cloud storage and file hosting service, OneDrive; secure online meeting platform, Skype for Business; and interactive whiteboard, Surface Hub, all operate in the cloud and enable modern content creation, productivity and collaboration, which is breeding ground for innovation.

Beyond innovating when it comes to your products and services, however, you also need to think about your customers. Their expectations are changing and you need to change the experience you give them. If you use these modern tools to help you become innovative in the customer experience you create, many customers will forgo the latest product and service advancements your competitors might be offering.

The word “innovation” might be an overused one, and its true meaning might have been diluted. However, real innovation that moves your business ahead and adds value to your customers is the differentiator when it comes to your success and longevity.

As an SME in particular, take advantage of your ability to move and adapt quickly. Use the tools at your disposal to transform your operations and infrastructures and engage employees and customers. It will be this innovation that will mean the difference between sustaining your success in the long term.


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