Communicating innovation is as important as innovation itself.
If I look at the past I can bring to you a couple of examples:
- WAP on mobile phones. The claim at the time was “Internet in your pocket”. Quite clearly customers have really been disappointed by finding out that the internet that was supposed to be in their pocket was not the same internet they were used to browser on their home PCs. Great technology, bad communication.
- RFID. Riccardo is the expert in this field but his post is a good example of a great technology that is being communicated badly.
I think that at the end of the day there is not, in most cases, any bad intention in this. There is a soft passage where innovation is leaving the labs and R&D center and is moving across marketing, communication and sales.
This a critical passage for an innovative company. It should be managed carefully and you need clever people to make this passage as smooth as possible.
This is where the liaison officer comes in place (I talked about that here). I could say that this is my job. I have to translate technology in an easy to understand marketing scenario communicating the value of it and the potential for our company.
This is not an easy task to accomplish. You have to talk to so many different people, often in the same meeting changing your hat every single second. You need to explain the tech savvy guys the technology using their jargon, you need to explain the potential to senior management without using any technology jargon. This changes for any single entity in the innovation process.
You need to make this process consistent across all departments from the beginning of the product development to the product end of sale announcement.
In your innovation process you will find three different levels of communication.
- The first one come from senior managers of your company. They set company goals and business strategy and the innovation process should drive the company towards those objectives. This kind of communication is usually quite simple and direct and makes use of a simple language that everyone in the company may understand.
- The other level is the communication between departments. This is much more horizontal communication compared to the communication coming from senior managers. You do not have any option to force another department to think that the innovation you are trying to push is really a breakthrough. You need to use their language. A direct consequence of this if that you have to find all the relevant people in your company to make the innovation process a success.
- At the end of chain you have communication with you customers. You should pay a great level of attention in this area. This is where you are playing your chance to be successful and, finally, this is where you get money (or whatever you are paid with) from.
All of these are equally important and I think that any innovation process should take care of these areas.
Why do I blog this? Innovation is a difficult journey, but it can be made comfortable if you plan in advance.