Companies commonly ask me these innovation questions: What emerging technology should I invest in this year? We’re piloting [new technology] — where do we start? How do we manage innovation when we’re busy with incremental improvements?

What this shows is that many companies know that innovation is important — and they’re right. Innovation is crucial to staying in business. Why? Industries are in flux: Companies reinvent themselves, new ones are born, and established ones die due to upended delivery and operating models, changing customer expectations, and more.

But where is the best place to start? First, companies have to change their definition and approach to innovation.

Innovation Must Be:

Not just an output — but an outcome. Innovation spans from improving existing products and services to launching brand-new ones. And the true test of success is not if you created something new — but if your customers get more out of the experience.

Not just testing new tech — but delivering new value. Many companies think that piloting emerging technologies is the path to innovation. It may be glamorous and interesting, but the resulting insights won’t promise impact unless they’re paired with knowledge into customers’ needs and interaction preferences.

Not just mindset change — but operational change. Profitable innovation requires that companies invest in understanding what makes people tick, customer research, experience design, new product teams, taking risks, continually optimizing . . . and much more.

I’ll be keynoting about these innovation realities at Forrester’s CX SF 2019 Forum on October 17 and 18 at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis and will be joined by leaders at several highly innovative companies who will share their stories. Want to join us, too? Register for CX SF 2019. I hope to see you there!