We hear the word innovation a lot these days, especially as it relates to entrepreneurship; so, I want to take a little time this week to write about what innovation really means and to share a few innovations I have come across recently, and which I have found exciting.
The consensus from a number of dictionaries is that innovation is a new idea or a more effective method or process for doing something. The Business Dictionary goes farther to say that innovation often results when ideas are applied by a company in order to further satisfy the needs and expectations of the customers.
Two innovations I came across recently were outside of Barbados. They may not be that new in their market, but, to me, they are new and exciting and satisfy the needs of customers, particularly the need for speed and convenience. Both of these “finds” are in the banking industry.
In Canada (and probably in other parts of the world), there is a wonderful service called INTERAC e-transfer, which allows you to transfer money to individuals and businesses via email address. All you have to do is go on your online account, select INTERAC as a payment method, put in the person’s name, email address and the amount you want to transfer to them, create a question and the answer (similar to what you do with Western Union), and hit Submit.
The transaction is sent to the person’s email address; they answer the question; choose which bank account the money should be sent to; and voilà, the money is transferred. No waiting three days for the cheque to be cleared, or 30 days if it is a foreign cheque. I love it! When are we getting this in Barbados?
My daughter told me about this one recently, which I think is quite new. This one I love as well. You can now make mobile deposits to your bank account using a mobile banking app.
No more having to go into the bank and queue, or even go to the ATM machine to physically deposit a cheque. You simply take a photo of the cheque and send the photo to your bank via the app, and the money is deposited.
Basically all the bank needs to know is the name on the cheque, the bank and account on which the money is being drawn, the amount, of course, and your account.
What an innovation!
Can you imagine how convenient that would be for people who are incapacitated for some reason and find it difficult to leave home? And what’s more, I believe the money hits your bank account right away once it clears the payer’s account.
I beg the financial institutions in Barbados to catch up and make doing business in Barbados easier.
When I see the long queues in the bank, I struggle to figure out what it is that people are doing and what is taking so long. The only reason I go into a bank is if I have to deposit a US dollar cheque,
or if my deposit is larger than the ATM will allow me to make, which doesn’t happen too often.
Surely, it is not only the developed countries that can innovate. We have very intelligent and creative people here in Barbados and, as I always say, we don’t necessarily have to reinvent the wheel, we can import (that is, copy) what’s being done in other countries, but has not reached here yet.
We would at least be innovators locally.
One small innovation I have come up with recently is to take the idea of a textbook and to present some of the information that is needed for the principles of business and entrepreneurship syllabuses, as a story and as a coaching manual in my book The ABCs Of Entrepreneurship –– Tessa Takes The Challenge.
Next year, when I source the funding, I will take it one step farther and produce a dramatized video series of the book, as my market assured me, both here and
in Belize, that they prefer to learn via video. Do you see how many how-to videos there are on YouTube?
So innovation does not necessarily have to be the creation of something totally new; it can also mean taking an existing product or service and improving it to meet the needs or expectations of the market. If we look as near as supermarket shelves, we see innovations.
Ten years ago, did you ever see laundry detergent specifically for black clothes? Now you can buy detergent for black clothes. I don’t know if it really makes a difference, but it’s on the shelf, which means people are buying it.
As I said, innovation is not limited to developing nations. During my Women’s Entrepreneurship Day event, I came across a number of entrepreneurs with innovative services. I’ll write about one of them next week, and I hope it will stir other entrepreneurs to innovate, either by creating new products and services, or by finding a more effective methods for delivering them. We are well able!
(Donna Every, the current Barbados Ambassador for Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, is a certified facilitator for the WINC Acceleration Programme and a mentor for the Barbados Youth Business Trust. She has just released the first book in the series The Abc’s Of Entrepreneurship –– Tessa Takes The Challenge.)