[Commentary] How do you turn an idea into innovation? Jie Xue, Product Manager Innovations at Worldline


Payments form the essence of today’s global economy. Industry stakeholders such as issuers, networks, payment processors and merchant buyers continue to invest heavily in their capabilities, taking advantage of technological advances to better align with changing customer expectations and business requirements. A key lesson we have learned from the last few unprecedented years is that the importance of innovation has never been more apparent. Companies that fail to adapt and innovate will be left behind, while those that do will gain a competitive advantage.

When it comes to payment technology, disruption and innovation have continued to gain ground in recent years. Real-time payments, already common in many parts of the world, are becoming more popular, while point-of-sale (POS) loans and buy-now-pay-later financing solutions are reinventing lending and changing the POS experience. Other innovations such as tap or scan to pay solutions such as Apple Pay, Google Pay and QR codes also continue to rise, along with growing consumer adoption of digital payments. And as online commerce becomes increasingly popular with consumers, the customer experience and how it can be synchronized to enable a seamless shopping journey is an increasingly interesting question for many merchants.

Innovation requires finding a way to deliver better value to your customer base. Recent research shows 94% of leaders they believe they are not innovating effectively. So, are there practical approaches and frameworks you can follow to jump-start innovation initiatives in your organization?

The myth of innovation

There is often a misconception that innovation is about disruptive technologies and cutting-edge inventions. In fact, this is not always the case. Innovations can also be incremental improvements to your existing products and services or venturing into areas that are new to a company, as shown McKinsey’s three horizons model.

Another misconception that people have is that innovation is only relevant to relevant experts, as well as being a purely creative process. In reality, innovation is relevant to anyone in the organization, and more often than not, it is a practice of scientific thinking and cultural cultivation. In fact, you can use innovative structures and processes to create new opportunities.

So let’s say you had this fantastic idea. What happens next? Normally nothing. Many great ideas never come to fruition for reasons such as lack of resources, time, or simply the determination to act. Having an innovation mindset and a team culture that supports experiments is crucial, with the right resource support. Adopting an innovation mindset is a prerequisite to cultivating growth and opportunity for ourselves and our organizations. We all have a role in fostering a culture of innovation.

How to identify ideas

Innovation ideas can come from anywhere. They can arise from external sources such as customers, competitors and market trends. But often, especially when it comes to new product innovations or incremental innovations, ideas also find their place among internal teams, such as sales and customer services: people who are close to customers and have a keen understanding of the issues. of customers. When identifying innovation opportunities, it is important to engage different stakeholder groups.

One approach, for example, might be to hold an “Ideas Hackathon,” which applies a similar concept to a hackathon, but instead of writing technical code, teams get together to “hack” interesting business ideas or problems to solve. In an “Ideas Hackathon”, you can apply various practical product and innovation frameworks to guide teams in their explorations. In this process, teams also gain insight into product innovation thinking. This format can be particularly effective for generating ideas and, crucially, building a culture of innovation.

Turn ideas into innovation

Now, you have some interesting ideas to explore. But before you jump headfirst, take a moment again to reflect and analyze more deeply. This can be a useful time to practice an idea audit, where you run ideas through a list of predefined questions (or a scorecard, if you like) to decide if you want to move forward. Some things to consider may include:

  • How unique is the idea? How does it compare to what is already on the market?
  • Does the idea add value that really matters to customers?
  • What will you need to make the idea a reality? Can you expect a tangible return on investments? Is the return based on short or long term?

There are many ways to turn ideas into products or services. Different companies may have different preferences. But the general guiding principle of successful companies is similar, which is continuous discovery, testing, and learning, with customer needs at heart. Here are a number of steps and tips you can follow:

  1. Discover – Talk to your customers to validate the problem or opportunity. Conduct market research, competitor analysis, and build a business case to better understand how you should position your idea.
  2. Experiment – Create an MVP to test market with customers. Get customer feedback.
  3. Build up – Create a first “minimum solution” with value offerings and features most relevant to your customers, and also realistic for you to launch with the resources and time provided.
  4. To learn – Measure your product’s market fit. Learn from customer feedback. Go back to any of the previous steps if necessary.

When your idea has reached initial product-market fit, you can continue to build and expand your product and repeat the Build-Learn cycle. Always be sure to think ahead and have a plan for the future.

About the Author

Jie XUE, Manager of Product Innovations, Solutions and Innovation at Worldline

As Product Manager Innovations at Worldline, Jie focuses on understanding emerging trends and their intersections with digital payments, with a consumer-facing approach. He leads several innovation initiatives at Worldline, where he helps translate these market needs into proofs of concept or innovative product offerings, in areas such as gaming and retail. Prior to Worldline, Jie worked in the innovation and startup space in Europe and China. She shares a passion for technology and emerging markets.

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