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Which businesses spring to mind when you think of innovation? I imagine the likes of Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Uber are quite high on your list.

Think about it, through innovation Amazon has revolutionised the e-commerce market, Apple has revolutionised the mobile phone industry, Netflix has done it to the TV market and Uber to the taxi industry.

Each of these companies, and plenty more, took a huge risk to step outside of the industry standard, to dramatically alter the make-up of their respective markets, ultimately, to innovate. Innovation cannot happen without change and risk.

Innovation gives businesses the edge over its competitors. It makes the organisation more attractive to consumers, and more attractive to the best, brightest and most creative talent out there.

Below, we look at some of the steps software development businesses can take to drive innovation.

Investing in people

This is arguably the most important factor in driving innovation in any company, but particularly in software development, because it focuses on a business’ biggest and most vital asset; its team.

We all know the saying ‘you get what you give’. Think about what you expect from a job – the absolute minimum is a salary. If all a business gives its workers is the absolute minimum, can it really expect anything other than the same from its workers?

Importantly, giving more than the absolute minimum doesn’t necessarily mean higher salaries. It’s about creating an environment where developers can improve themselves and really push the boundaries of a growing skillset. Giving employees the tools for self-improvement leads to innovation.

Don’t punish mistakes

In some workplaces, workers are afraid to make mistakes. They’re afraid of what their boss will say if they make a mistake, afraid of the repercussions. An organisation where employees feel this way will struggle to innovate.

Mistakes are a good thing. If an organisation isn’t making mistakes, it’s not doing anything. It is standing still, doing everything the way it’s been done for countless years. Mistakes are a sign of innovation. At the end of 2011, English author, Neil Gaiman, wrote: I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're doing something.”

Organisations making mistakes are the ones trying to find new ways of working, new technologies, new processes – trying to make things better. Of course, workers won’t always find the perfect solution first time. But that mistake shouldn’t be punished. It should be assessed and tweaked, used as the foundation for the next attempt.

Nick Thompson, managing director at DCSL Software, said: “DCSL Software has innovation and people development as its core principle. Without looking at new technology, new ways to build software, together with efficiency and organisation throughout any project we take on, we would not be giving our customers, nor our employees the best possible outcome. Keeping developers up to speed by working on the latest and greatest solutions, such as IoT, Computer Vision, Big Data and Machine Learning is great for the developers, our customers, and DCSL as a leading software development company.”

Understand and challenge customers

What is the point in innovation if your clients and customers don’t want it, or aren’t ready for it.

Sometimes, customers aren’t aware that they need innovation to improve their experience, or even their lives. It’s a well-used quote, but an important one when we consider innovation. Henry Ford once said: 'If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse’.

The point is; developers need to challenge their clients to embrace innovation. Having a clear understanding of a clients’ wider objectives and needs can allow developers to identify innovation opportunities.

By Jonathan Davies, Amplified Business Content