Instead, the truly vital attributes of these companies balancing on the razor's edge are the willingness and capability to genuinely innovate — displaying the kind of business savvy and visceral guts that spawn numerous admirers and rocket these technology leaders into the stratosphere of business greatness.
At Dialexa, we polled our team members about which companies they admire. Here are some lessons learned from our favorite innovative companies.
1. You Can't Be All Things to All People
While millions of people today view Apple as an obvious leader in the industry — due largely to the success of its mobile platform — what is truly inspiring about Apple is not solely where it ended up, but the journey the company took to get there.
In Apple's early years (1980s), the company devoted itself heavily to education, providing computers to schools across the United States to assist teachers and students, alike, and attempting to create for itself a market where none had existed before. In spite of the company's massive decline in the late '80s and early '90s, Apple was always willing to try new things. "Apple was never afraid to experiment and it never tried to be all things to all people," said Jeanette Cajide, VP of Corporate Development.
By continuing down those roads less (or often never) traveled, Apple was able to eventually create products such as the iPhone, revolutionizing a market by focusing solely on the user experience, and beating out earlier competitors, including the Palm Pilot and BlackBerry.
2. Focus on the User Experience
Similar to Apple with the iPhone, Keen IO found its success by focusing on the user experience. As a company that provides analytics tools for software developers, Keen IO made the wise decision to focus on the needs of its customers by providing tools and services that are streamlined and straightforward. "Most companies pile in feature after feature, while Keen IO takes an exact opposite approach and gives you the bare minimum of what you need while being readily accessible for support," said Ken Hanson, Front End Engineer.
Amazon is another prime example of an industry leader that found success by providing services that acknowledge and appreciate the needs and wants of its customers. From Amazon Prime, which provides near limitless delivered goods worldwide, to Amazon Web Services, which offers inexpensive cloud computing services to anyone with an idea, Amazon has "dramatically leveled the playing field for smaller companies to compete against the bigger corporations," said Luke Gordon, Quality Assurance Engineer.
3. Share Early and Often
Even some of the technological giants continue to be driven by the admirable goal of assisting and providing for others in the industry, ultimately benefiting the customers and users of hundreds of companies worldwide. Behemoths such as Facebook and Google along with up-and-comers such as Square and GitHub are "known for providing the open source code for projects they develop internally, lifting up the developer community while potentially inspiring the creation of the next big thing in the tech space," said Nelu Malancea, Front End Developer.
4. Innovate in Unexpected Ways
While most tech companies look to innovate by creating something brand new, an exceptional example of innovation in an ancient tool comes from Spyderco. While not a software technology company, with over 80 patents improving upon the design and function of knives, it's hard to argue with their commitment to innovation in unexpected ways in an unexpected sector. For nearly 35 years, Spyderco has honed its technique and continuously improved the performance of its knives, revolutionizing the knifemaking industry along the way. "They've made performance improvement their chief innovation driver," said Justin Trantham, Solutions Engineer. With a strong emphasis on function over form, Spyderco continues to ensure that its customers always get a product that performs its intended task well.
5. Commit to Culture
Finally, no company can successfully sustain innovation without being committed to a rich employee culture. Nearly every company mentioned is known for their exceptional culture, whether it's Apple's shared goal to make the best products for customers; Facebook's focus on providing employees with lots of autonomy and big problems to solve; or Google encouraging the sharing of ideas and support between employees. I personally believe that companies that focus on people - the most critical ingredient in successful innovation - consistently edge out their competitors.
What I and the team at Dialexa admire most about these companies are their constant efforts to break free from traditional business norms. They are not afraid to experiment, to innovate, and possibly fail. In the end, they have all found success by supporting the ultimate beneficiary of their products and services: the customer.
We are inspired by the same innovative decisions and driving force that has led all these great companies to success over the years.
To learn more about how Dialexa approaches innovation for our customers, including our software development process, click the image below.