It seems that the economic era when innovation mostly deviated from reality is over, the age of ideas that were often unfeasible, or at least seemed unnecessary in terms of practical use. To put it bluntly: the “big startup era” is over. Moreover, global crises are not exactly conducive to brainstorming; why would anyone take the “new at all costs” approach if survival is the main goal? But it is in such situations, a paradigm shift is needed, and innovation is again a prerequisite for that. However, this is no longer an end in itself, but a concrete, supportive solution. This new direction is called “practical innovation”.
Where is last year’s snow?
Everybody remembers when it was cool to be a “startupper”. There are a lot of jokes about young people getting together and setting up new startups during an all-nighter. Of course, that wasn’t the real joke. It was shocking how they often found investors for these “developments” that seemed to make no sense at the outset—those without a resounding vision, market, and return. But somehow, the investment environment also liked to show their “pull” in the eyes of young people and the market. And then came the 2008 crisis, which brought a serious standstill in these processes. Obviously, investors who easily scattered money before the crisis opened their coffers far less often after it. The number of visions entering the implementation phase also decreased drastically, but at that time, everyone still thought that the market would come to its senses and the recovery would begin. This prediction did not really come true in the end. Moreover, the trend has continued, and although the world of innovation has become increasingly organised, the number of developments that have had a significant impact on humanity or business, or at least one sector of it, has declined. In addition, it has had a generational effect, as members of the generation entering the labour market after 2008 were no longer able to attack with world-saving, “disruptive” thoughts like their older peers. It was clear that methods needed to change, but in a world full of visions, there was no such easy solution. Innovation itself had to be reinterpreted, and to do so, a return had to be found among shrinking demand. ROI has clearly come to the fore. Not only did the investors say that, but in addition to serious control, they also wanted to go to market much faster than before, which, of course, often killed creativity.
New generation, new innovation
It’s not a new idea that every generation imagines the importance of innovation a little differently. There was the age when the “Renaissance Men and Women”, the Leonardo-like figures, understood a little bit of everything; now, if we want to be successful, we have to be “highly specialised experts”. In today’s world, there is a clear focus on feasibility. Moreover, a basic requirement for innovation is that it must be useful to users and customers, and its usefulness can be clearly measured. A new group of businesses has appeared on the market that are interested in practicality beyond in addition to the joy of novelty. They put improvements on the table that make things easier and more efficient. The leading representative of this trend in Hungary is Gergő Nidermayer, the owner of EKI Creative, who is well known and widely recognised in his market. “There is a greater need for innovation in business than ever before, but decision-makers are also a little afraid to touch anything new. A crisis always triggers a cost-cutting fever, and it is no different with new developments. Decision-makers want to be sure that they absolutely need innovation, but they will spend a lot of energy and money on quality professional advice. The kind of advice that provides them with practical innovation and sends their business down the optimal path” explained Mr Nidermayer. New consulting firms are appearing that focus on practical use, which entails efficient operational implementation at the level of strategic planning. They do not produce documentation, but build specific, feasible directions. “We are seeing a significant change in the area of point-of-sale incentives. Clients do not come with ready-made plans, but rather with ideas. They expect us to build new solutions that, of course, provide their customers new motivations to spend money, yet can still be implemented efficiently. Primarily, even if they are unaware of this, they do not expect us to come up with a creative design for a store, but to build a point of sale where the customer feels at home, easily obtains information, and returns instinctively. And this is always the design: POS necessitates a coordinated innovation of know-how and technological elements so that dreams can come to fruition. For this, we have established the ENDORIENCE consulting model from our core business, which is built on this new innovation strategy. Thus, ENDORIENCE is the first conscious and defined domestic representative of ‘practical innovation’” the businessman added.
The price of happiness
Practical innovation, of course, does not tolerate territorial, sectoral constraints, but represents a way of thinking. As a result, its representatives can develop along several, sometimes completely dissimilar, business lines. “Practical innovation is a business concept. We also have innovation projects in several fields, including traditional business, environmental protection, and sports. However, it is important to note that practical innovation is always based on considerable professional knowledge in a given field. And this can only be solved if one sees practical innovation not as a work, but as a philosophy of life. Innovation must make us happy, and only then can we provide users with the ultimate solution that really makes them happy and useful” explained the “practical innovator”. In the post-pandemic period, personal well-being and a happy life have clearly become top priorities. Practical innovation will help these become a reality.