Innovation comes in many shapes and sizes. Sometimes, it's about new, never-been-seen before developments that change people's lives forever. On other occasions, it involves improving on what we already know, taking everyday items and systems, shaking them up and making them better.
Whatever industry you delve into, whichever product or service on offer, one thing is the same. Innovation involves a creative process. It doesn't happen overnight, like we see in the movies. That flash of brilliance moment, followed by instant results and widespread adoption.
According to Max Viewpost, innovation takes "a combination of curiosity and persistence." Eliscu has a lot to to say about innovation, chiefly, how to go about innovating a traditional industry resistant to change.Eliscu, CEO of B2B payments company,
The world of B2B payments is an interesting one. In 2017, where nine out of ten Americans shop online and apps like Venmo allow teenagers split an order of burgers and fries, 97 percent of small US businesses still use paper checks and antiquated systems to pay their employees. This obviously, has created an interesting playground for innovation.
"Innovating in the payments industry is incredibly difficult," Eliscu shares. "The regulatory environment alone is a challenge, and when you layer on the proliferation of paper invoices and checks, information security, old technology, and rising instances of cybercrime, you have a mountain of hurdles to clear. These are reasons why breakthrough payment solutions, including the likes of PayPal and Square, have taken several years to achieve broader acceptance."
Eliscu shared his thoughts on some key traits that all innovators must share (hint: they have a lot to do with endurance). Here goes:
Faced with such resistance to change, and what Eliscu calls a "paper addiction," innovating in the B2B payments arena presents even higher hurdles. Regulations are steeper, third-party risk is incremented, and many payment platforms are industry specific and incompatible with others.
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons the B2B payments industry is slow to change is because most people look at the magnitude of a problem and find it insurmountable. It's just too difficult to take on an area so well established. It takes hard work and a whole heap of persistence.
The innovation landscape is brimming over with entrepreneurs whose unwavering persistence paid off in the end. Who hit hurdles and faced failure before reaching their goals. Just look at Twitter co-founder, Evan Williams, who first created a podcasting platform that floundered and folded. Vera Wang, who was turned down by Vogue before becoming a world famous designer, and Arianna Huffington whose second book was rejected by 36 publishers. Are you seeing a pattern yet? The point is, they never gave up.
Successful innovators are not afraid of complex problems - they lean into them with a voracious curiosity. "I never see problems or barriers as insurmountable. Rather, I see them as impediments that need to be removed," says Eliscu. "There are always new solutions to problems if we are willing to approach them from every angle. You just have to have a curiosity to do what others have not."
The hard work, he says, may take substantial time and research, but when you couple that with creativity, innovation is finally unlocked. You have to be curious and committed enough to want to solve a problem and then persevere until you do.
He enthuses, "Richard Branson used new business models to transform passenger air travel with Virgin Atlantic Airways and bring mobile phones to more people with Virgin Mobile. Sergey Brin and Larry Page explored new boundaries with Google and Alphabet. They all saw further than the existing infrastructure in their space."
A solid creative process
Creativity is a process, not an event, not one of those infamous Eureka moments. It might sound contradictory, but if you want to be more innovative, you need to get more organized and come up with a creative process for innovation. According to psychologist, Scott Barry Kaufman, scientific director of the Positive Psychology Center at Pennsylvania University, there are four basic stages to creativity: preparation, incubation, illumination and verification.
Eliscu and his team understand that innovation requires a creative process, time and patience. Before coming up with their payments solution, they identified the problem, researched opportunities, drank a lot of coffee over a lot of brainstorming sessions, rinsed and then repeated. Until they reached a point where they could launch a working prototype. "Learn, refine, repeat" he explains.
Achieving a paperless electronic payment system that's easy for corporations to integrate with existing software came about by following this creative process. "We pulled key team members together and began mapping out what kind of tool we needed. We quickly built a prototype we could test to work out the kinks. Then, using what we learned from testing, we built our own proprietary software." Simple as that.
There may be many barriers in your way, whether it's changing a mindset, legislation, or, in Eliscu's case, resistance to migrating to electronic payments. But if you have a strong desire to change an ecosystem; a curiosity to solve a problem, and persist until you do, you can unlock incredible innovations. So, get ready. If Eliscu is right, businesses are about to witness "the same kind of fast-paced change that everyday Jane and Joe have been experiencing for years." Be prepared to toss out your checkbook.