Has the pace of new technology left your business struggling to innovate?

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The pace of technology in recent years has increased significantly. Whilst large brands and big businesses have lapped up every advancement to aid their growth, many SME businesses have been left wondering how they can compete.

Dwindling budgets, openness to change, as well having people with the right creative skill set, can all act as barriers to innovation and the application of new technology for businesses.

As a business owner you may feel constrained or afraid to commit the technological or staffing resources needed to innovate, when you are not clear on the most valuable or economic way forward. You may have many questions in your mind:

  • How can I afford to keep up with all the advancements in technology?
  • How can I afford to keep up with all the advancements in technology?
  • How can technology help my business innovate more successfully and what should I choose?
  • Are my current innovation ideas too “out there”, or is there technology that can help me realistically achieve these goals?
  • What do my customers really want?- Are there any grants or funding opportunities available to help with tech adoption?

Obtaining clear answers to these questions may feel challenging, however our team of friendly Navigators at CPCA Growth Hub are here to offer FREE business advice and support to get you on the right path. You can contact them now on 01223 967676 / 01733 602060 or hello@cpcagrowthhub.co.uk

As a business in the local area you are part of a climate for innovation that is at a pioneering stage, meaning businesses of all sizes can take a brave approach to adopting technology and pushing forward with an idea. It’s okay if your ideas push the boundaries, however small, as this will help you stay competitive and interesting in an area that isn’t afraid to be bold and showcase something completely new to the world. Fundamentally, it’s about finding the right support to help you build your concept around what you can legitimately achieve with your budget.

One emerging approach that is easily accessible and translatable to SMEs is the concept of ‘Gamification’ as a tech vehicle to enable your business to innovate more affordably and successfully. In many instances this means still using the products and services you have already, but bringing them to life in new and interesting ways that offer lifestyle benefits for your target audience.

What is Gamification?
It’s about harnessing the power of gaming technology that currently sits at the forefront of a $120bn global industry, and applying the mechanics to real-world business, societal or cultural problems to create improvements, where the end function isn’t necessarily related to entertainment.

Gamification takes the positive elements of games to create focus, reward and flow when people engage with products and services unrelated to the entertainment industry.

Dr. Storgards (Director of REACTOR) says: “Gamification is a powerful tool to engage a wide range of audiences, we have yet to fully harness the potential of games and explore the possibilities.”

How does it work?
Video games emerged in the 1970s, and since then the technology has continued to develop, disrupt, entertain and change the behaviours of generations of people. What once was considered a social past-time for the young, has now become more widely accepted among many as a helpful tool, offering social and learning opportunities to improve life.

It’s these changing behaviours that are key to understanding how you can effectively gamify your business. It’s all about applying some form of positive response for your customers using the power of gaming technology. For instance, changing your customers’ behaviours to interact with your brand more positively by applying forms of recognition, motivation, or greater interactivity and competition to some element of your commercial offering.

Understanding what motivational enhancements will resonate with your customers is essential to the success of gamifying your business.

Where to start?Where to start?

Gamification may sound like a bit daunting, but the best place to start is always from within your own business. Think about the following to come up with a viable plan:-

  • What do you want your business to achieve?
  • What business areas could you improve?
  • What elements of the products and service you offer could be made better using ‘Gamification’?
  • How can you get ahead of what your customers “want” to be bold and progressive?
  • How can you get ahead of your competitors, or do something differently from them?

Understanding what you customers need is very important, but in a progressive area like Cambridgeshire it’s also key to consider how you can respond to those needs innovatively, pushing beyond how your competitors perceive the solutions to those needs, as well as engaging your customers on another level. Remember, a small business can still pack a big punch with the right attitude and confidence to develop in a new space. It’s important in such a vibrant marketplace you avoid the risk of becoming boring and remain creative.

Many small businesses are surprised at the scope Gamification can offer their potential for innovation, and this can be overwhelming, bringing with it another set of questions and uncertainties. The best way to manage this, and to establish an effective strategy, is to consider what elements of your business could easily be “gamified”, adding the most value for your prospective customers. Think what stages of a user journey you could bring to life to create better products, better user experiences or better services.

The emphasis is on the word better here, as changing someone’s world is often more about the changes that make their life simpler, better or more rewarding, rather than just wowing them with something impressive but valueless to its outcomes. Think about the challenges you could help your customers overcome by gamifying your products or services.

This activity will also help you create a strong business plan, manage your concept within a reasonable budget, and work out what additional financial support you will need to seek.

Think about how your customers already interact with your business, and what stages you could make improvements. It’s not just about products or service either, think about all the various business touchpoints you offer both internally and externally and how they could be improved using Gamification: Marketing, Training, Recruitment, Logistics, Retention Clients and Customers.

Where can I get help to Gamify my business?
If Gamification sounds like it could work for your business, but you are not sure how to take the idea forward, why not get in touch with REACTOR.

REACTOR Programme

REACTOR Programme

What is REACTOR?

REACTOR is a project led by Anglia Ruskin University and co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The project helps to support SMEs to innovate and grow their businesses through the use of applied games in the Cambridgeshire and Greater Peterborough area.

The project provides monetary support with grants, access to gaming software and high spec technology to build products in their dedicated Incubator Space, and access to expertise through their unique network of businesses, games developers and designers.

REACTOR offer non-intrusive support that doesn’t disturb your business strategy, but rather tailors the help you need to your idea.

Find out more about the cutting-edge facilities offered by the new Incubator Space here. https://www.anglia.ac.uk/business-employers/knowledge-exchange/reactor/incubator-space

The next REACTOR ‘Big Gamification Challenge 2018’ event for SMEs is being held 7th March.
Focusing on Immersive Environments: A Series of Smart Cities Challenges, you can meet the REACTOR team and ask any questions you may have about using games to enhance your products and services. You can find out more about this event and register here: https://cpcagrowthhub.co.uk/events/reactor-big-gamification-challenge-2018-event/

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With funding from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, Plunkett is currently able to offer early-stage community businesses free advice and support on how to get their business off the ground, including guidance on community engagement, legal structures, business planning and raising the funds to do it.