No innovation’s no longer an option | LinkedIn

We live in an era when innovation can make or break any company. When it comes to innovation, today no company is too big to fail.

The electronics market offers some of the most dramatic examples. Sony invented the mobile music market with its innovative Walkman, released in 1979. By 1998 it was making an annual profits $5 billion.

But it failed to keep up with new technology trends, and its products became stale. It completely missed the potential of digital, and waited until 2004 to release an MP3 player: three years after the launch of the iPod. The result? By 2012, ex-market leader Sony was recording an annual loss of $6 billion, while innovators Apple saw a $42 billion profit.

Nokia’s decline was even more startling. Just ten years ago, Nokia was the king of mobile phones: with 51% of the entire mobile market in 2007. But it rested on its laurels. It focused on marketing and sales, and ignored innovations around either the smart phone, mobile software or apps. While sales of innovators Apple and Samsung soared, its own sales crumbled. By 2013 its market share had fallen by a staggering 91%, to just 3%.

But even innovator-in-chief, Apple itself, is not immune to the need for regular innovation. Since the death of Steve Jobs, it has focused less on innovating, and the cracks are starting to show. For the last two years, the company has seen year-on-year sales declines. CEO Tim Cook himself recently admitted they’re seeing a “pause” in iPhone sales.

The lesson is not limited to electronics however. The bankruptcy lists are full of companies across all sectors that failed to innovate: from Kodak to Comet, BHS to Blockbuster.

In an era of disruption, when technologies, consumer needs and purchase drivers can all change overnight, the need for continuous and company-wide innovation has never been stronger.