In our last post, we discussed the difference between innovation and problem-solving and why striking a balance between these two processes is crucial to maintaining the position of a business in the market. However, in order to get ahead of the competition and make a mark in the industry, a business must be able to come up with new ideas to keep their operations, products and services fresh and unique –in other words, they must innovate.

People who aren’t inclined to think logistics may assume that innovation doesn’t play a role in this field because they often associate the concept with product innovation, for instance, a new smartphone or a new computer. But on the contrary, innovation is one of the pillars to a robust and successful logistics operations.

Gone are the days when businesses compete in the market with price and reliable logistics services. Today, innovation is the key to achieving a real advantage in logistics and supply chain. Only innovation makes it possible for a logistics company to get ahead amidst the challenging and ever-evolving business environment these days.

Why Innovations Makes More Sense?

The best-in-class logistics companies don’t wait for problems to arise. Instead, they fix what isn’t broken and seek to improve on areas that have no apparent deficit.While the ability to solve problems is a much-needed skill in business, it is not sufficient.  It won’t have the desired effect of enhancing the competitive edge of a logistics organisation. As discussed on our previous blog, problem-solving is about FIXING things that have gone off standard. The more problems that are solved, the more effective the logistics company become. However, innovation is about much more.

Innovation is about providing products, services and capabilities people don’t even realise they lack. In fact, the majority of innovations we enjoy these days were almost never created to solve a problem for us. They were created to improve the way we live. That includes the automobile, the airplane, the personal computer, the internet, the smartphone and Wi-Fi.

Likewise, many of the innovations in logistics were also made to improve things, not to solve problems. They include EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) communication, drones, RFID (Radio Frequency Identification), On-demand warehousing, cloud storage, 3D printing and automation.

Rather than solving problems, these innovations are things that have enhanced logistics operations, enhancements so dramatic that we would now consider it a real problem to be without them.

Innovators Are Proactive Problem-Solvers

Solving problems is essential for innovators. However, if they wait for problems to arise before pursuing their ideas, they will be waiting indefinitely. If you think about it, what problem did social media networking sites solve? Yet its value is incomprehensible today. What issue did strategic and tactical logistics outsourcing solve? Yet many companies around the world rely on these service providers to streamline their operations, and potentially provide more satisfying solutions to their clients.

Innovators are those who don’t have time to wait for problems to arise. They’re the visionaries who as George Bernard Shaw put it, do not see things as they are and say, ‘Why?’, but dream things that never were and say, ‘Why not?’.” Innovators don’t follow the problem-solution cycle; they get out in front of it.

Problem-solving is crucial to innovation, just as it is in logistics. But if your approach is to wait for problems to be recognised, and you’re dismissing ideas that wouldn’t fit as part of the solution for the problem once it was identified, then innovation will not flourish in your business.  You need to regularly consider how your current products, services, and processes can go beyond their normal parameters to achieve real differentiation that not only satisfies but delights the market.

21st Century Warehousing: Strategy and Operation

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