The prestige of being seen as an innovative company has never been higher. It’s a label that’s worked very well for plenty of the largest tech players, even long after the innovation being lauded ceases to sit at the heart of their operations.
But there is a danger of over-glamourising innovation. It is, after all, not an end in its own right. Just ask QR codes, minidiscs and the brilliant (but pointless) Sinclair C5.
Innovation is a word you hear a lot at MVF. Our teams are encouraged to find new ways of doing things to keep improving their outputs. But this is no brand positioning piece. We do it primarily because of the competitive advantages and business efficiencies we’ve found come about as a result of the work carried out by our internal innovators.
Two areas of the business that are most frequently praised for their innovative approaches are our new channels team and the tech team. But while both are given the remit to experiment and build new things, the commitment to pragmatism means you’re unlikely to be hearing about the MVF equivalent of the laserdisc in the near future.
Here’s a taster of how these methodologies manifest in the two teams mentioned.
New channels research and experimentation is key to our continued growth. A first-to-market approach when new possibilities for engagement come along allows us to extract maximum value from new audiences before competitors are able to react. Every time a new media channel is launched, our teams test approaches and multiple campaigns to see if it can be a business driver for us. A lot goes into being first to master new channels and new techniques. And the work doesn’t end with the quick wins that prove concept.
Once the team hits upon a new channel they see value in, it’s important we scale up and roll out as quickly as possible. The experiments mean very little until the learnings are put into practice and our teams are extracting value from the new audiences that open up as a result.
This process – where a new channel or technique passes from the team briefed with experimentation over to the teams built with day-to-day use in mind - is where innovation starts to bear fruit. Once upon a time Facebook, for example, or more recently Pinterest or programmatic advertising, have made the transition. But it’s only when we manage to scale their use and drive large volumes of traffic, conversion and revenue from them that the business really benefits.
Similarly, our tech, dev and product teams have been an essential component of the growth MVF has enjoyed over the last seven years, and their commitment to finding the right solutions to the new opportunities and challenges presented as we continue to scale is absolutely vital.
The key word in that last sentence was was ‘right’. Our tech team is not tasked with churning out innovative solutions, but rather the best solutions.
Sometimes this means building new platforms or processes from scratch; bespoke and unique. This obviously takes lots of time and very specific skill sets. The results are often amazing and innovative: singular solutions designed to respond to our company’s specific circumstances.
But just as frequently, perhaps even more frequently, the right course of action is to use solutions already out there, or by recourse to tried and trusted best practices ensure that the company is making the right investments at the right times to ensure our teams are enabled to keep increasing the quality and value of their output.
This sounds less exciting, perhaps. But knowing when to innovate and when to take another course of action is far more conducive to the facilitation of business growth than setting out with the intention of redesigning the wheel every time.
Innovation has helped MVF get to where it is today, and it will continue to do so long into the future. But innovation will never be viewed as an end in itself. It’s one response to the many challenges and opportunities you encounter as you continue to grow your business.