Whether it’s in medicine, computing or communications, we’ve become accustomed to the increasing pace of innovation.

So, at a time when new and often disruptive technologies seem to be appearing every day, is it getting easier or harder to innovate?

In business, innovation is the practice of taking new ideas and turning them into a product or service that has a perceived benefit that both new and existing customers will buy. Innovation is more than a ‘nice to have’. It’s a necessity to maintain a competitive advantage. But the cost of exploring new ideas and productizing them can be high, and as a result, organizations are constantly forced to balance the expense of innovation with the potential rewards.

While innovation can be risky, advances in technology are making design and rapid prototyping of new products easier than ever. The internet and social media have turned market research into an almost real time capability. Leveraging these advances provides organizations with more agility in innovation as well as the ability to fail fast, learn, and move on if a new idea isn’t going to bear fruit.

Another key decision is whether to be a “cutting edge” or “bleeding edge” innovator. Although cutting edge is certainly more glamorous and can bring great rewards, the risk and cost of taking a brand new concept to market may be too great. Building on, or improving, existing ideas may be the more pragmatic course of action.

While it may be difficult to envision the new products or services that will impact our lives next, it’s certain that the ability to innovate will remain an important competitive advantage for the foreseeable future.

In answer to the question of whether it is getting easier or more difficult to innovate, that is in the hands of an organization’s business leaders, who should be closely considering the following: Where should my company fall on the innovation spectrum – are we cutting edge or bleeding edge innovators? How much risk are we willing to take when creating new products? And finally, do we have the resources and capabilities to be true innovators in our market?

Read More: Nine Ways to Innovate with Your Pricing