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The CITE, a blog published by the National Association of College Stores, takes a look at the intersection of education and technology, highlighting issues that range from course materials to learning delivery to the student experience. Comments, discussion, feedback, and ideas are welcome.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Innovation is all about value.

I had the pleasure of telling parts of the NACS/NACS Media Solutions innovation story in two sessions at the ASAE meeting in August.  ASAE is the American Society for Association Executives -- and YES, there IS an association for everything!  Regardless, innovation was a major theme at the conference this year, and one of the interesting aspects of ASAE's approach is the clear definitional link they have between innovation and value.

There is a great blog on innovation excellence that is worth following -- and which will soon be added to our blog roll on the right.  One of the recent posts was about how innovation is all about value.  The posting includes the following quote:
Innovation transforms the useful seeds of invention into solutions valued above every existing alternative – and widely adopted. [...] Often usefulness comes from what a product or service does for you, and value comes from how it does it. If you’re looking to truly deliver innovative products and services into the marketplace, then once you succeed at the designing and developing the ‘what’, don’t forget to also focus on achieving excellence in the ‘how’.

It also talks about innovation as being more than just about ideas -- and as much about thinking of innovation as idea investment opportunities.  Meaning, that to be successful at innovation we must think about innovation as more than just ideas + execution.  Rather, the author argues that innovation is a product of value creation (i.e., new value for stakeholders), value access (ease with which stakeholders can access the innovation), and value translation (helping/educating people on how the innovation adds value to their lives). 

These aspects of innovation and value have real significance for those of us in the course materials market and can help explain some of the reason why digital course materials have had difficulty in the marketplace.  Things like DRM and a lack of standards for access among content make digital course materials less accessible.  We have also seen that digital course materials require greater consumer education than the traditional format of a book.  We all know how to use a printed textbook more or less, but we have found that digital course materials require more education for consumers, and that when that education occurs, the willingness of students to buy digital course materials increases.

One last piece on this blog post -- a comment from a colleague who is one of the more innovative store managers out there.  He wrote:
Very interesting read. Takes what is typically an intangible concept and adds a practicality that reaches beyond simple "execution" towards excellence and success. It reminded me of the concept of creating a need or market where it doesn't exist yet. One approach is to poll customers and give them what they want, but this is the challenge of identifying (through innovation) something your customers don't yet know they need. This sometimes requires mind reading, but is really about knowing your customer - who they are and how they live, not just what they want. In training & education, this is the "I don't know what I don't know."
I could not have said it better.

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