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Continuous, incremental operational improvements alone are not sufficient for achieving sustainable innovation. Similarly, efficiency improvements alone are not a solution to growth challenges. The goal of innovation is to boost competitive advantage, drive greater differentiation, improve operational efficiencies, create great customer experiences, and streamline innovation project management.

Most companies are facing significant organizational and cultural challenges in driving sustainable innovation. That’s why many of them rely on outside help. In a recent Forrester Wave™, we identified the nine most significant providers for innovation consulting services. But before you reach out for outside support, here are some of the key things you will have to consider:

  • Tackling challenges to innovation transformation upfront. Key challenges for innovation initiatives by traditional businesses include the fact that: 1) innovation processes are often not aligned with business processes; 2) internal silo structures prevent open collaboration; 3) innovation metrics often don’t reflect business objectives and outcomes; 4) innovation budgets are wrongly allocated; and 5) digital competitors are faster. These issues require dedicated attention.
  • Defining a clear purpose for the innovation transformation. The goal of innovation consulting is to increase the competitive advantage and differentiation of a business. This is mostly achieved through boosting operational efficiencies, innovation project management, and customer experiences — and thus enhancing the innovation capabilities of their clients. This implies improving the quality and speed of innovation, the speed of innovation implementation, and the impact and success of innovation. A clear purpose channels these efforts.
  • Lifting the innovation transformation to the group-strategy level. Innovation consulting providers support businesses with the implementation of innovation programs and innovation systems. They provide strategic direction about innovation, such as industry-specific innovation trends and innovation capability assessments. Innovation also must support the shift of process value chains from linear transactions to continuous interactions with clients, employees, and partners. This is a strategic undertaking.
  • Asking for best practices from other firms going through innovation transformation. Importantly, innovation consulting firms provide insights regarding best innovation practices based on insights gained from other firms in the same or other sectors. Training is also an increasingly important deliverable, educating business and tech leaders about innovation strategy, methodologies, tools, ecosystems, and culture. Learning from others is critical.
  • Carefully defining the selection criteria. Based on feedback from dozens of client interviews, Forrester believes that the main customer considerations when selecting innovation consulting service providers include the existence of a dedicated innovation practice; a coherent global innovation offering; the ability to support innovation implementation and execution; experience to drive innovation culture transformation; the portfolio quality of asset-based consulting; the sophistication of innovation management tools; the quality of the innovation partner ecosystem; innovation design capabilities; and, of course, convincing customer reference case studies.

The Forrester Wave™: Innovation Consulting Services, Q2 2021” aims to help traditional businesses select the right innovation consulting provider for their innovation transformations.