Innoversity: Innovation and diversity in enterprise

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June 2008 | By Yanire Braña, Director of the MET Program at IE Business School

Forget established patterns of behaviors. Innovation plays a key role in growing a business and making it profitable. But companies also have to remember to include diversity in the equation.

In an age where attracting talent and brand power are fundamental, many companies have been forced to cultivate their uniqueness, looking for new ways of developing the values and factors that enable them to do just that. Accordingly, they turn to innovation as the only way to maintain or create a new competitive edge that can be sustained over time.

The most innovative enterprises are aware that innovating is not simply creating or modifying products and services, but rather it is sometimes important to create an infrastructure of people and processes that allows them to respond to all their current and future needs.

The need to grow their business and making it profitable makes companies occasionally focus exclusively on their competitors, customers and employees, but what happens with other factors? Business reality tells us that customer retention and loyalty strategies are often designed but that they do not always include employees and often overlook an important potential market: non-customers and non-employees. Then there are the difficulties involved in learning about this particular segment, which is the result of massive demographic, economic and sociocultural change and often fails to present the kind of segmentation criteria that makes for in-depth knowledge. New technologies make it easy for enterprises to see beyond their traditional sources of advantage, but sometimes this is not enough to actually innovate or the renew competitive advantage. In order to maximize all the options, companies also need to invest in discovering the differences among their customers and employees that can take them beyond existing demand and open up the door to a new mass of customers and employees that did not exist until now.

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