Before any innovation initiative starts, there are questions (and usually lots of them). What is innovation and, more importantly, what does it mean for your organization? What fears or misperceptions hold innovation back? If you haven’t yet, check out this blog before reading this follow-up piece.

Decades ago, Netflix mailed DVDs to homes and a copy of the Yellow Pages was next to every landline phone. Today, Netflix is a streaming juggernaut producing award-winning content and the Yellow Pages’ website,, is one of the world’s largest online directories used by millions of businesses. 

How did these well-established brands simultaneously run and reinvent? Their stories prove that innovation without disruption is possible. Here’s what we can learn from their successes… 

Introduce incremental value while keeping your core service

In the prelude to this blog, it was discussed that innovation doesn’t have to be a breakthrough new technology or a completely new business model. It can be something simple that adds value to the day-to-day lives of your customers or employees. is the perfect example of this. While the Yellow Pages eventually ended its printed product, it took two years for them to finally get there. The company worked incrementally, first by strengthening its market share through strategic acquisitions and then by adding multi-channel marketing as a business service. Today, Yellow Pages provides the same service as its first publication back in 1966 faster and better. Likewise, to this day, you can still have movies delivered to your home as part of your Netflix service. 

Great innovation shows that you don’t need to forsake the old in favor of the new. By retaining their core service while laying the groundwork for next-phase evolution, these brands were able to retain their loyal customer base while reaching out to new audiences. 

How can your organization take small steps toward innovation while still following its North Star? Perhaps this means augmenting your voice-only customer service with new digital channels that make it easier for your customers to contact you. Maybe it’s adding analytics that allow you to better understand what your customers want so you can give it to them. 

Digital channels, analytics, AI, and automation are key technologies companies are leveraging to drive innovation, but they’re only accessible in the cloud. What does that mean for your decades-old on-premises systems?

Innovation starts with ideation and follows through with implementation, but current investments shouldn’t be abandoned in the name of innovation.

You may not be ready to move on from your rock solid on-premises systems (and that’s okay), but you know how greatly you can benefit from new capabilities delivered via the cloud. Even if you are ready, the systems you have in place are deeply entwined with other frameworks. Even something seemingly simple like adding new digital channels to your voice-only contact center can create a lot of new challenges such as different agency interfaces, split reporting of customer interactions between voice and digital channels, and changing communications mode in “real time” to address customers’ needs (ie: shifting from chat to voice to video). 

You need to move at a pace and path that fits your business needs. If your technology isn’t mature enough to deliver what needs to be developed, you’ll need to collaborate with partners who offer enabling technologies to gain access. 

Here are a few examples of innovation without disruption using Avaya’s Experience Platform:

Superior Propane – Canada’s leading supplier for propane delivery and tank installs – uses Avaya’s Experience Platform to open the door to cloud and AI without having to rip and replace its existing on-premises systems. 

Our partner alliances also helped speed time to value by offering access to dozens of leading tech vendors that could seamlessly integrate with the company’s Avaya solution. Superior Propane began driving innovation internally and externally using proactive automated outbound notifications, real-time reporting, and speech and desktop analytics that helped reduce Average Handle Time (AHT) by 30 seconds per call.

Standard Chartered Bank uses Avaya’s Experience Platform for a personalized path to cloud adoption.

Public cloud was not a model that was yet suitable for them when weighed against their business and client requirements. Avaya Enterprise Cloud created the global platform they needed while ensuring optimal security and data privacy. With Avaya, the bank has been able to innovate externally with digital, personalized CX and internally with enhancements to its agent desktop.  

Unlock new value through the cloud at your own pace 

At the heart of business is the propensity to keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things. Embracing new ideas, however, shouldn’t mean disruption to your existing business operations. Create your own path to cloud technologies that drive innovation – Avaya can help every step of the way. 

IT Leadership

Innovation is crucial to the continuing success of any business, especially well-established enterprises. New products and ideas are tested every day, just as new opportunities are ignored. Blockbuster thought going digital would be too expensive. Blackberry failed to adapt to the changing smartphone market. Toys R Us sued Amazon versus using them to build an eCommerce presence. To paraphrase Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer, “Innovation is the only way to keep customers happy and competitors at bay.”

Here are five questions for well-established enterprises navigating innovation:     

What is innovation? 

Innovation is about making changes to something established, specifically by introducing new methods, ideas, or products. 

Noteworthy companies like Airbnb, Uber, and Apple innovated through major technology breakthroughs, but innovation doesn’t have to be a completely new business model. It can be as simple as an upgrade to your customer service or new features added to a product. Leading organizations ensure continual innovation by creating roadmaps that document when new products or features will be rolled out to the public (ex: on a quarterly or yearly basis).

At Avaya, we’re constantly thinking of ways to innovate our cloud communication products based on what customers want and need, from new ways to connect to global expansion capabilities to AI-powered features. Above all, innovation should be about responding to customer needs. 

What does innovation mean to you?     

Are you familiar with the term “Innovation theatre?” It’s used to describe an initiative done to merely signal that innovation is happening (in reality, it has no significant business impact). This display is unfortunately all too common. Under this umbrella of “innovation theatre” are activities that promote the idea of innovation but don’t lead to actual innovation within the organization (think hackathons and classes). 

A 2021 analysis from McKinsey found that the world’s 50 most innovative public companies hold innovation as a central value three times more often than other companies. Some describe innovation as a “moral responsibility.” Is innovation foundational to your enterprise like core business functions such as sales, marketing, and IT, or is it a performative act? 

What are you afraid of?

Innovation is about more than ideation. You need to implement to create new value. Gears need to shift, processes need to be reformed, and budget needs to be allocated. It can be scary. Research shows four fears hold back corporate innovation more than others: 

Fear of failure: No innovation initiative has guaranteed success. Are you still willing to act?Fear of criticism: Criticism provides clarity and necessary redirection, but it can also hinder innovation if not properly applied. Fear of uncertainty: Business leaders need a certain amount of tolerance toward unpredictability (as evidenced by the recent global health crisis). Remember that there are ways to safely experiment with new products, and most experiments can be reversed. Fear of negative impact on one’s career: It’s easy for loss aversion to take the wheel when we’re considering the risk of doing something new. 

Innovation can be intimidating, but it’s ultimately a positive pursuit. 

What do you want to innovate?

Enterprise innovation comes in many forms, from product innovation to CX innovation to process innovation. If you’re not sure where to start, consider these findings from Deloitte:

40% of enterprises kick off their innovation process by looking internally for opportunities to optimize existing business operations. Another 25% do so by scanning the marketplace for new technologies and ideas.Higher-growth companies spend less time looking inward and more time responding to customer needs. As a result, they are quicker to uncover customer and stakeholder issues.

Are you ready to innovate?

2021 study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group found that only 20% of enterprises are fully ready to deliver the innovation they see as being critical to their success. Are you ready to prove impact in your day-to-day actions? We’ll be posting a blog soon on how well-established enterprises can start walking the walk with innovation. In the meantime, read about some customers who are innovating with Avaya solutions here

IT Leadership