Innovation Capabilities

To become globally competitive, a firm must be able to differentiate itself from the competition. And at the heart of differentiation is innovation – the ability to create new or improved products and processes that lead to superior value for customers.

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How innovative companies are different

Innovative companies are, by definition, always changing. They never stand still and regularly look for new ways to tackle the challenges their customers face.

For instance, H2O Innovation, a Quebec City-based company included in The Conference Board of Canada report, has established a name for itself internationally by providing unique water and wastewater treatment solutions. While it has developed a number of proprietary technologies – such as a remote monitoring system for wastewater systems—H2O Innovation customizes every project to create the exact solution that will meet its customer's needs by relying on the company's multidisciplinary team of scientists and engineers.

Another example is Toronto-based Symbility Solutions, which provides easy-to-use technology solutions for processing insurance claims. As mobile and cloud technologies have evolved, Symbility has refined its solutions to allow insurance professionals to work on the go, increasing demand for its products around the world. Symbility took note, particularly, of increased smartphone adoption in developing regions such as Africa, Asia and the Middle East, where almost 70 percent of the global population will be using mobile phones by 2017, according to an eMarketer study.

How to become innovative

Company leaders must understand what innovation looks like and the steps they can take to get there. The Conference Board of Canada report says research has shown four dimensions of innovation are linked with success in global markets:

  1. Developing new and improved products: Introducing new products or improving existing ones allows companies to differentiate themselves from global rivals. Product innovations should be tailored to meet a specific customer need.
  2. Investing in research and development: Research and Development investment is fundamental to the development of new and improved products. For instance, Canadian software companies that are successful globally dedicate up to 50 percent of their workforce to product development.
  3. Adopting and creating new technologies: A firm's technological competence is closely related to its ability to succeed in the global marketplace. That technological competence may include employing engineers and scientists, monitoring new technology development and making use of advanced technologies.
  4. Being open to innovation in pricing and sales methods: Some firms, especially those selling products that are not easily differentiated, can accomplish global success by rethinking their sales methods. For instance, Conifex Timber developed an in-house sales and distribution division, to allow mid-tier Asian buyers to bypass wholesale markups and purchase directly from the producer.

Customers' needs are constantly changing, and the firms that are evolving to meet those needs with cutting-edge solutions will come out on top.

Like Symbility and H2O Innovation, Canadian companies can compete in the global market. And a commitment to innovation – along with resources committed to ongoing research and development – can help immensely.

A trusted global business advisor can support your company innovative approach to serving international customers. With Relationship Managers in more than 60 countries and 150 years of experience helping international businesses succeed, HSBC has the knowledge and experience required to help your company sharpen its innovation quotient and build international success.

To learn more about what it takes to compete internationally, download Selling to the World.

*Published in June 2015.

Source: Selling to the World: The Keys to International Business Success, June 2015

Four Keys to International Business Success

Customer Stories


The information presented is not meant to be comprehensive and does not constitute financial, legal, tax or other professional advice. You should not act upon the information contained in this document without first obtaining specific professional advice. While reasonable care has been taken in preparing this document, HSBC does not make any guarantee, representation or warranty (express or implied) as to its accuracy or completeness. The information presented in this document is subject to change without notice.

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