Innovation is the lifeblood of technology companies – and increasingly, of any business seeking to prosper in today’s digital world.  The web is a hugely powerful platform for sharing and implementing ideas, and has changed society and business forever. Online, anyone with an idea can be an entrepreneur; small ideas can reach and sometimes change the world. To stay at the forefront of innovation you need to stay at the forefront of the web.

Ecommerce is to many the most visible shift and has created great opportunities, for small and medium businesses especially. Economic studies found that across Europe small businesses using the web are growing 4-8 times faster than those that don’t, and exports make up twice as much of their sales.

Equally as important are the productivity benefits, such as faster collaboration and smoother workflows that come from using cloud-based tools. For office/knowledge workers everywhere, making it faster and easier to find relevant information in the workplace is transformative. In the future, businesses that want to thrive will need to put the web at the heart of their operations and innovation.

At the same time, when innovating, it’s important not to focus only on refinements to business-as-usual. Ambition matters: if you aim for a 10% improvement, that’s all you’ll get. Don’t shy away from taking a few moonshots; they are the only way to get the 10X, truly transformational breakthroughs.

Of course, experimentation on this scale needs careful management. You need to fail fast. You can let a thousand flowers bloom, but eventually you have to choose the bouquet. In managing moonshot innovation it’s a constant pull between experimentation and focus.

But moonshots are easier than you think. There’s less competition. They’re more fun, so it’s easier to attract talented people to work on them. And even if you don’t fully succeed, you’re usually far further ahead than if you’d just gone for incremental improvement.  While moonshots are risky, in an era of rapid change, it can be even riskier not to take them.

This blog post is part of a series written by delegates that recently attended World Economic Forum workshops on innovation, entrepreneurship and global growth in Europe. The next workshop will be held in Berlin on July 3. For more information please contact [email protected]

Read the Global Growth Company CEO Workshop Series: Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Global Growth report

Author: Matt Brittin is Senior Vice President of North and Central Europe at Google

Image: The moon is seen behind the Manhattan skyline REUTERS/Gary Hershorn

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