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Innovation

The successful implementation of a new idea eg new product, process, approach, strategy. It should be distinguished from creativity and invention. Creativity concerns idea generation. Invention is a technical process of perfecting an idea. Innovation requires ideas to be put into action and is concerned with the commercial application of the idea or invention. It is clear from the above that innovation does not just concern new product development. Neither, does it necessarily concern something totally new. It may, for example, involve the modification of an existing product, process or strategy. Innovations can, in fact, be classed according to the extent to which they vary in terms of familiarity to the people involved. For example, they may be regarded as incremental, substantial, radical, or revolutionary. From a business perspective whatever the type and ‘level’ of innovation, the innovation should lead to increased value either for the customer and / or the business concerned. There are a number of stages involved in innovation: identification of new ideas; screening and selection of new ideas; detailed investigation into new ideas; pilot production / production of a prototype; testing and review; full launch. Innovation can be costly – not just in terms of research and development costs, but in terms of the promotional expenditure, re-training and / or changes in working practices required to inform customers about the innovation and / or implement new processes successfully. Innovation is not just an operational objective but also an operational strategy. In highly competitive, technological markets, the development of new products or new processes may be essential to set a firm apart from rivals, attract customers and, thus, achieve objectives relating to sales and market share.

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