When you think of companies that need a competitive advantage, Coca-Cola isn’t likely to come to mind. The company has been a corner stone of the soft drink industry for over a century, and it isn’t going away any time soon. But if innovation is the key to competition and growth, Coca-Cola may just leading in that area as well.
With their investments of eco-friendly bottles made of ice that melt after use to vending machines that can create custom flavors, the soda giant never passes up an opportunity to grow its brand. As CIOs, there’s a lot we can learn from Coca-Cola, not the least of which is their ability to consistently create innovative ideas. These ideas are necessary to growth, and may make or break your business — large or small.
How Coca-Cola Does It
You’d think that all Coca-Cola has to do to create innovative new products is hire the best and the brightest of new college grads. But growth takes much more than in-house talent or other traditional methods, and it isn’t reliant on luck or pure chance either. Innovation is about ideas, and to come up with the best ideas CIOs may have to accept that they simply don’t have all of the answers.
That’s exactly what has fueled Coca-Colas startup mentorship model. By fostering the efforts of startups all around the world, the company creates a veritable think tank of ideas, while the startups in turn have access to technology way beyond their budget. These partnerships are mutually beneficial, but they also drive the world economy. From San Francisco to Tel Aviv, Coca-Cola is shaping the future of newly founded companies and dramatically impacting the economies of their countries.
What We Can Learn from Coca-Cola
Of course, this model will not work for most companies, but it’s the message behind that concept that should inspire CIOs. Rather than seeing other companies as competition, Coca-Cola sees them as opportunities for growth. They don’t use traditional means to achieve innovation, but instead chart their own course as they choose the next direction for the company.
No matter your industry, you can grow through innovation, whether you’re redesigning your product or service model or changing the way you interact with your customers. Don’t simply look at common, well-traveled avenues towards this goal. Encourage collaboration, and draw ideas from your staff as you work towards growing your business. If a 129-year-old company can recognize the need for change, it’s imperative that other CIOs can as well.