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Innovation is not a sometimes thing, but an all the time thing

This phrase came to my mind as I read the recent Citrix announcement unveiling their new company strategy.  As part of that strategy, it would be “transitioning the Bytemobile business” – corporate speak for shutting it down. Citrix purchased Bytemobile, a market leading company at the time for over US$400m just three and a half years ago! That is breath taking when you stop and think about it.  How did this happen so fast? And what can we learn?

Tenacious Innovation

We live in truly unique times. Markets and technologies are changing overnight – some in the Valley would argue that things change in a few hours! Hyper-competition and market disruption is a way of life. Yesterday’s market leader is today’s laggard. That’s why it is more important than ever to embrace the motto: continuously innovate or die. This is not an easy process as it requires you to constantly question what you have accomplished and not be afraid to cannibalize your products – even successful ones — and move on. Innovation is not an end result, it has to be a constant cycle, a way of working.

Take our telecommunications industry. It is in a constant state of evolution and flux. Only around three and a half years ago the world of encrypted communications was a tool for spooks, crooks and the very paranoid. Today encryption is embedded in virtually all forms of communications and messaging services. Three years ago, our data showed that less than 5% of the packets crossing mobile networks were encrypted. Today that figure stands at 60%. It will exceed 80% in many regions by the end of 2016.

Persistent Innovation

With the exponential rise of encrypted data, the techniques, tools and market dynamics of three and a half years were all outdated – overnight. Gone just like that! Our engineering teams had the foresight and creativity to embrace the new world and develop new techniques, tools and market capabilities to align our services to this new secure world.

That forward thinking was recently recognized at the prestigious Awards when the judges awarded our Secure Traffic Manager the first prize for Network Management Excellence. And earlier this year, independent analysts ABI Research stated that “Openwave Mobility takes the innovation crown …… shows the most innovation and improvement of all the vendors, taking a clean sweep top score for Media Breadth and Depth, Data Breadth and Depth, Subscriber Focus, Monetization Focus and Analytics Focus.” Those are great endorsements.

Systemic Innovation

The lesson here for any business – not just in mobile data optimization – is that innovation is not a stop and start process. There is too little time to gear up. It must be a continuous commitment, especially if you want to compete effectively and succeed.

Innovation also needs to extend across the entire company – in an encompassing manner. Too often we think “innovation = engineering”. It certainly is focused around engineering, but even your back office staff must innovate in their roles and continually seek “better ways” of doing established jobs. That extends to Marketing, Product Management and yes, even our HR departments who are tasked with looking after our innovation-lead staff. If not, we risk innovation becoming viewed as a one off exception limited to a few clever people in the company, once in a while. It is not.

This continuous and systemic innovation leads to continually disruptive and successful solutions. Delivering outstanding solutions to your customers is not just a top priority, it needs to be the priority.