Why do Small Businesses out Innovate Large Corporations?

What does it take to get a large company to become innovative around web applications?

Before we answer that lets look at why small companies are so innovative when it comes to IT projects.  First, small companies don’t have the same fears around security.  A small company can ignore the possibility of it’s confidential client information being stolen because they probably don’t have any.  Of maybe they do but it’s all housed in an online application like Quickbooks online.  A large company has to make sure that everything it controls is completely protected.  So when their internal innovation team comes up with a new idea for a web application the IT department has to make sure that that one tiny new web app doesn’t create a security threat that will compromise all the other IT systems in the company.

Another reason small companies can innovate faster is that they make decisions faster.  As a recent example with a large company here in Columbus, Ohio I met with an internal innovation team to discuss an idea they had to automated the tasks they were using an Excel spreadsheet fo.  The ROI on the idea was huge.  They needed to manage over 100 facilities across the US with multiple issues that changed based on the location, time of year, weather, and government regulations.  That is a tasks way too complicated for Excel.  After speaking with them and laying out an idea for how we could move forward they realized they needed to do the following to get their web project moving…

Ways Corporate America Kills Innovation within their Company

These are the steps they had to go through before they could even figure out if the company would fund their idea(the idea with a clear ROI).

1. Ask coworker for the form they had to fill out to start their Innovation Project (TPS form maybe?)

2. Fill out cumbersome form

3. Send form to unknown boss (they were not sure who this was)

4. Setup meeting with boss (not easy to do in a big company)

5. Bring Vendor out for second meeting with boss

6. Refill out Innovation Form based on new information boss wanted

7. Meet with IT (By the way this is the kiss of death for most web projects because the non-IT people don’t know how to work with their IT department)

For more information on these types of projects see our other blog post (Handling Backlogged IT Web Projects)

8. Assuming IT let the project move forward go back to boss for funding…

You geth the picture.

How do small companies build innovative web applications?

1. Talk to boss about idea

2. Bring in 1-2 web application companies to talk about project

3. Decide if pricing the development firms gave you is worth it.

4. Sign contract.

How can large companies innovate more like small companies?

1. Innovation has to occur at the small department level not the corporate level.  If you want to empower your teams to find creative ways to build a new web application or a mobile application to solve their departments problems you need the department to innovate, not the company.

2. Build in small rewards for everyone (including IT and finanance) for launching a new web application or mobile application.  Employees are afraid of what will happen if they fail and quite frankly there is no reward for success.  Build success into the process.

3. Create a time every month for employees to meet with their Innovation Boss so that meetings are easy to schedule and are expected to happen.

If you need help getting your online application moving call us.