What is Incremental Innovation?

According to Forbes, corporate innovation involves incorporating unconventional thinking as a core strategy in your business. However, it's important to note that new ideas don't always have to result in completely revolutionary products. In fact, enhancing existing products often proves to be the most successful approach. This is where incremental innovation comes into play.

Incremental innovation: a simple explanation 

Incremental innovation is one of four innovation methods (the others being architectural, disruptive, and radical) used by SMEs and global organizations alike. It is defined as a series of small improvements made to a business’s existing products. Incremental innovation may additionally extend to services or processes. 

Incremental innovation strives to enhance the product's market position by optimizing development efficiency and adapting to the changing business landscape.

Given that the main driving forces of innovation are customer experiences, revenue growth, and product development, incremental innovation is a priority for many companies because it simply focuses on building upon existing products.

This type of innovation is particularly common in tech sectors, where gradual improvements can be made to improve hardware and software alike. Research suggests that 98% of all innovations fall within this category. Although it may not receive as much attention as radical innovation, this approach has the potential to bring about significant benefits, such as:

  • Improving the company’s productivity and performance,
  • Unlocking cost savings for businesses and customers,
  • Upgrading the User Experience (UX) of the product.

Incremental innovation encourages organizations to continually seek improvements for themselves and the end user, thus helping teams unlock the full potential of their products.


The benefits of incremental innovation

Statistically, most innovations fail. While even the successes usually require an iterative approach. Incremental innovation is the most effective and accessible method for facilitating iterations. Moreover, it is often a low-risk approach as the R&D costs are significantly lower and there is no need to abandon ideas that have contributed to past success.

Some of the additional key features of incremental innovation are;

  • Incremental innovation can extend the lifespan and relevance of tech products by adding features that align with new tech capabilities. 
  • Products that have been improved by incremental innovation will appeal to loyal customers, which is key as 80% of revenue may come from 20% of clients.
  • Incremental innovation is largely driven by data analytics while there is often a streamlined process of introducing new ideas compared to radical innovations. 

A company-wide approach to innovation will statistically yield more ideas, and incremental innovation is the most accessible. Employees at all levels of the business are familiar with the existing products and will have ideas about how they can be improved.

Whether it’s making improvements to the product or aiming for waste reduction and increased efficiency of processes, the fact is that incremental innovation supports better products and better business models. 

Incremental innovation is accessible and an ideal choice both for scaling companies as well as protecting business models. 


The right innovation methods and tools will allow you to make the transition or increase your commitment to ambidextrous innovation with greater ease. To find out more or book a demo, contact the rready team now.

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