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From technology changes to continued pressures on margins, companies today contend with numerous factors that can inhibit innovation. Here are four articles that highlight the trends contributing to why innovation isn’t as easy as it used to be:

  1. Web sales remain small for many retailers

Nearly two decades after the Web revolutionized shopping, many big retailers are still struggling to turn the Internet into a big part of their business… Inc. sells more online than its next 12 biggest competitors combined, including Staples Inc. and Wal-Mart, according to the trade publication Internet Retailer. Despite its greater online scale, Amazon continues to grow quickly and command a hefty share of new Internet sales. Its 30% increase in North American sales in the second quarter outstripped the overall e-commerce market and some competitors as well. – Shelly Banjo in The Wall Street Journal

Why is it still so hard for many retailers to figure out the web? Because it’s inhibited by the many institutional habits and cultures that inhibit innovation. Unlock your company’s capacity for innovation, and your online retail strategy will be a lot easier to uncover.

Tweet this: Amazon continues to dominate online retail, while others struggle to figure it out…part of @visioncritical roundup:

  1. America’s love affair with the car culture cools off

When adjusted for population growth, the number of miles driven in the United States peaked in 2005 and dropped steadily thereafter, according to an analysis by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives, an investment research company.  As of April 2013, the number of miles driven per person was nearly 9 percent below the peak and equal to where the country was in January 1995. Part of the explanation certainly lies in the recession, because cash-strapped Americans could not afford new cars, and the unemployed weren’t going to work anyway. But by many measures the decrease in driving preceded the downturn and appears to be persisting now that recovery is under way. The next few years will be telling. – Elisabeth Rosenthal in The New York Times

From grocery stores to the nearest Ikea, car culture is the foundation of many consumer habits. But with people driving less, a wide variety of adjacent industries will need to rethink their assumptions about how people shop, and what they’ll buy. That presents incredible opportunities for companies that know how to innovate in the face of major shifts…and a major risk for companies that aren’t innovation-savvy.

Tweet this: How will the end of car culture affect #innovation? Part of the @visioncritical roundup:

  1. ROI obsession stifles innovation

A number of challenges contribute to why innovation is being stifled... The most obvious reason is the reduced funding for research. While R&D remains big globally, we have seen more companies investing less on market research in the past few years.

The ROI obsession is also an issue. The C-suite obsesses over generating ROI for each penny spent. Companies won’t take on unique ideas if they can’t see a clear way of determining ROI. – Vision Critical’s Peter Harris on RW Connect

ROI matters, but ROI obsession can hinder innovation if it leads you to focus too much on the near-term. How would your capacity for innovation expand if you were to relax or change the way you think about ROI?

Tweet this: C-suite’s #ROI obsession stifle #innovation, blog post by @peteraharris part of @visioncritical roundup:

  1. Sharing economy forces companies to innovate

The collaborative or sharing economy is an economic model where ownership and access are shared between corporations, startups, and people. The result? New products, services and business grow in a new way… People have become a DIY kind of group. They've taken back control from corporations and are in the driver's seat when it comes to using the technology they want and sharing and making their own products and services. – Vision Critical’s Andrew Reid on Entrepreneur

We’re excited about the work Jeremiah Owyang is doing on the collaborative economy because we think it presents a massive area of opportunity for companies who know how to involve their customers in the innovation process. That’s what insight communities are all about—and why we see terrific innovations from companies who use insight communities, or other ways of engaging their consumers, in the innovation process.

Tweet this: Sharing economy lets consumers adopt DIY mentality - @reidandrew’s @EntMagazine post in @visioncritical roundup:

What do companies need to do to drive innovation? Share your thoughts with us in the comments. 

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