Is There Such a Thing as
Over-Innovating?

Vice President,
SAP SuccessFactors (Southeast Asia)

Published on
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Nobody can stop the wave of technology; therefore, we must go with it. Even when we don’t make any efforts to innovate within our companies, we can’t keep our competitors from developing further. This is how innovation has become a top priority for most businesses. Over the last years, we’ve taken initiatives to make sure we keep up with the modern times…and we never get left behind.

However, there’s an issue surrounding innovation, and I’ve been asked about it a couple of times: Have we been talking about innovation so much it’s possibly confusing our customers and losing its meaning?

Are we in danger of over-innovating? Is there such a thing as too much innovation?

My answer? Yes.

While studies point to under-innovation as the more common problem among businesses, over-innovation exists. It’s when we fall into the trap of looking for complicated solutions when a simpler one would do. It’s when we keep coming up with product innovations that don’t connect with our consumers. This, in turn, affects our profitability. Launching new products and extensions spells complexity and costs. 

It’s also possible that pedantic discussions about innovation may distract us from achieving other objectives we’ve set for our companies. Coming up with ways to disrupt incumbents may take so much of our time that we forget about what truly matters in our organisations: productivity and purpose.

In short, over-innovating occurs when we don’t have any clear idea on what are our innovation goals.

How should our businesses then approach innovation?  

Two words: Value creation.

The true sense of innovation is when we add value to our companies, employees, and customers. Innovation must have meaning. And it doesn’t only mean putting a new idea or solution all together, but creating a new value from an existing idea. Innovation is not only an internal initiative; it can also mean partnerships with establishments or governments for the benefit of the people.

To understand and rightly implement innovation within our business operations, we have to remember that innovation is a balancing act. As business leaders, it’s our job to strike a balance between feeding the market with innovations and building sustainable ones, between mapping our IT strategies and running the business.

We should also be aware that radical innovation and disruptive innovation aren’t the only types of innovation. We can innovate incrementally and remain relevant and profitable. As long as we continue to make small improvements or upgrades to our existing processes and products, we’re giving our companies the necessary push towards digitisation. Besides, incremental innovation allows us to maintain our efficiency without incurring high risks and costs.

Lastly, we should never lose sight of our vision. We should ask ourselves: Does our innovation add value to our customers’ lives? Innovation makes sense when it has a meaningful purpose.

We should ask ourselves: Does our innovation add value to our customers’ lives? Innovation makes sense when it has a meaningful purpose.

For example, in my country, transportation remains to be one of the primary woes. How can SAP Indonesia help reduce the traffic jams? What are the technological innovations SAP can implement to solve other problems, like the cities’ waste management systems?

Technology is an enabler of our vision for a more vibrant community. If we can use technology to create true value beyond our own companies, then we have succeeded.

What’s important is we know the reason behind our business innovations…and that we shouldn’t stop from innovating even in small doses. The worst thing that can happen is perpetuating the status quo and choosing to be stagnant. We should stay away from the “This is already working. Why should I rock the boat?” mindset. It only prevents us from developing our skills and driving growth in our organisations.

In this internet economy, not innovating at all is far worse.

Is your business digitally ready? Check out the Digital Innovation and Transformation Assessment  and discover how you can optimise your digital transformation.


What Others Are Reading