Do a quick search for “the next big thing.” The results probably display article after article that announces artificial intelligence, virtual reality, the blockchain, autonomous driving, renewable energy, or wireless sensors that will essentially connect everything. The thing is, innovation is the next big thing.

In fact, innovation has always played a part in determining an idea’s success or failure. For example, Netflix’s simple idea to ship movies to your home sparked the demise of Blockbuster. Now, we expect innovation. We have the tools, resources, and customer demand to foster a culture of innovation. In fact, innovation is the next big thing” for the following reasons.


Millennials have become the largest age demographic in the United States. And, they’re constantly changing the world around them. For example, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, the Arbuckle Professor at Harvard Business School, writes in the Wall Street Journal, that the “future is being invented by a generation that expects free-flowing, self-organized crowds that meet up, network, find each other on digital platforms, form and disband teams, and create their own projects. ”

A More Frugal Culture

Millennials are also more frugal than previous generations. Besides watching their spending, they’re also more inclined to keep their businesses and look for ways to avoid wasteful spending. This fits perfectly into the so-called “frugal innovation” revolution.

“Empowered by cheap computers such as the Raspberry Pi and other ubiquitous tools such as smartphones, cloud computing, 3D printers, crowdfunding, and social media, small teams with limited resources are now able to innovate in ways that only large companies and governments could in the past,” writes Jaideep Prabhu, Director, Centre for India & Global Business at Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Cambridge. Such an opportunity should inspire entrepreneurs and businesses from all the world to participate in the ever-increasing global economy.

Embracing Quantum Innovation

Paul Schomaker, Research Director at Wharton’s Mack Institute, writes that “Google’s approach is a prime example ‘quantum innovation’ which is defined as out-of-the box thinking that is disruptive to competitors and even the company itself.”

“The paradigm shift underlying moonshot innovations seldom fits the current business model and organization’s structure,” Schomaker continues. “It usually starts with a very broad sense of purpose and audacious goals, such as Google’s desire to organize the world’s knowledge or Tesla’s desire to make electric cars commonplace.”

Advances in Technology

“The advance of digitization enabled largely by the internet of things has created the connection and sharing of data between digital devices, ranging from household devices and heating systems to automobiles, and even jet engines,” says Janet Sernack, CEO and founder of ImagineNation.

Sernack adds that because of the growing amount of free and low cost online education, anyone with “a desire for learning and a hunger for knowledge” can become experts in their fields and use that information to launch innovative companies.

A Customer-Centric World

It’s no secret that we live in a customer-centric world. Customers expect businesses to provide them with value and listen to their wants and needs. Businesses must find innovative solutions to continually provide value. This includes top-notch customer service and product quality. Here are some statistics to back-up why you should put customers first.

  • 66% of consumers cite features, design and quality of product or service as the leading factor that determined brand loyalty. (
  • 52% of consumers have switched providers in the past year due to poor customer service. (Accenture)
  • Once a provider loses a customer, 68% of consumers will not go back. (Accenture)

Back to the Future

Tim Leberecht writes in Co.Design that there’s a “retro-innovation” trend emerging with new products and services that have been “designed to connect us with the past in ways that are both nostalgic and interactive. Leberecht says that “retro-innovation” falls into three innovation categories:

  • Those that authentically mimic a product or experience of the past to transport the user back into a bygone era
  • Others that use a nostalgic format to meet a new need
  • Those that use a new format to meet an old need.

For example, Italian paper notebook maker Moleskine has been “marketed as a tangible (analogue) reservoir of the artful and playful.” However, “to replicate their sensibility online, they formed a partnership with digital note-taking and archiving software Evernote.”