Partner Sites

Logo BusinessBecause - The business school voice
mobile search icon

What Is Innovation In Business & How Can You Master It?

Innovation is a word you’ll hear a lot in the business world. But what is innovation in business? And how can you master it?


Fri Jul 9 2021

Innovation is at the heart of any successful business. Through creative and out-of-the-box thinking, organizations can more readily identify a solution to a problem or gain a competitive edge.

Practicing innovation is a must for businesses that want to produce disruptive products or services—and MBA programs equip students with the skills and experiences necessary to embrace innovation themselves.

But what is innovation in business? And how can you practice it?

What is innovation in business?

Innovation is the practice of thinking up ways that new products or services can disrupt the status quo of the market or add value. Simply put, it’s about leveraging ideas to either address a gap in the market, solve a current problem, or update an existing product or service.

Many startups have offered a creative solution to a meaningful problem and reaped success as a result. Just take Vancouver-born Slack, for instance. Although there was nothing novel about the idea of an online chat platform, few had conceived of a way to take workplace communication from emails to a user-friendly instant messaging service that grouped coworkers into subject-specific teams. 

On the other hand, tech companies like Blackberry famously failed to innovate, ignoring the demand for touchscreen devices, allowing tech giant Apple to swoop into the market and knock Blackberry off its perch as a leading mobile phone provider.

This need for innovation within the tech and digital sector is something Professor Claudia Lehmann, chair of digital innovation in service industries at HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management, recognizes. “The digital sector tends to have comparatively short product life cycles and, therefore, companies need to innovate frequently to be able to compete continuously.”

Due to HHL Leipzig’s strong links to entrepreneurship, the HHL MBA is heavily invested in educating students on how to leverage digital innovation tools to grow a business. Whether you’re launching a venture or practicing innovation within an organization, you’ll learn to navigate the everchanging business world during courses like ‘innovation management and corporate entrepreneurship.'

Mastering Innovation: Thinking from the perspective of a customer

It’s usually the case that businesses who’ve successfully innovated, such as Slack and Apple, are those who’ve placed themselves in the shoes of the customer.

“Innovation is concerned with determining customer needs and choosing the correct inventions to address them,” explains Claudia.

This is something you’ll learn about on the HHL MBA, which allows students to experiment with innovations that they can apply in the business world. For instance, in the entrepreneurship and agile working methods class, you’ll have the chance to identify a customer issue and create a new product or service based on the potential demand.

In one such course, an innovative brainstorming session led HHL MBA graduate and data and artificial intelligence (AI) strategist at energy company E.ON, René Rivero (pictured), and his group to devise a virtual interior design service that used augmented reality to display the designs in clients' homes. René's group recognized that similar services were being offered in the US, but not across Europe, despite many Europeans’ interests in interior design.

a05c6a79ac6b1af93bb8dd9d3607eb4d6c312c36.jpg “Businesses are like people, they age,” believes René, “Innovation implies considering how your core business activities and services can stay relevant for consumers and society in general.”

As a result, innovation should start with identifying the customers’ pain point and then creating a marketable product that addresses this need. This process is something you can gain practice in and receive valuable feedback on in your MBA.

Moreover, through HHL's Digital Space there's ample opportunity to engage with other students when exploring digitalization and entrepreneurship. Through this open platform, you can receive support and guidance from experienced entrepreneurs when developing your business idea.


Mastering Innovation: Keeping up to date with market trends

You’ll need to keep updated with what’s happening in the market to practice innovation. But with so many new digital tools and technologies available, it can be tricky to figure out which tools can aid innovation.

HHL offers a course in disruptive technologies for this very reason, providing students with a grounding in technologies like AI, big data, advanced manufacturing, and virtual reality.

“Having a general awareness of the market and its changes can be an important competitive advantage,” notes Claudia.

After learning the theory behind innovative tools, the student consulting project will put your knowledge to the test. Here, you’ll have the chance to solve a real-life innovation problem a company is facing, analyzing digital trends within the company’s target market, and strategizing which tools could help the business conquer the market.

“One of the aspects I most appreciated about my MBA was that it doesn’t end in simple classes or a book; you also have the chance to practice innovation through these immersive projects,” reports René.

In his current role, René uses data and advanced analytics to analyze E.ON’s different business units across various countries, pinpointing new technologies, such as blockchain, AI, and robotics, that he can use to improve business processes.

Armed with the theoretical and practical knowledge about innovation from his MBA, René says he's been able to thrive in his role and stay on top of the latest digital trends.

Student Reviews

HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management




Part time MSc Management

I decided on attending this program since it is 100% in English, the option for a Semester abroad, and it has a nicely designed curriculum. I enjoyed very much the studies at the Leipzig location (I do not live in Leipzig and was staying in Airbnb flats with other students during the course weekends). There was great enthusiasm within the students' group, the courses were challenging and we had experienced/diverse professors which added to the overall experience. HHL is focused on teamwork and is big on its network and career development which is a definite value add for students. I can recommend HHL to other students who want to sharpen their skill set to be prepared for leadership positions.




Impressive Journey

I’m doing my Master Part-time at HHL and love the Journey. The teaching is between good and outstanding. The service around the lectures is amazing. Never had to wait longer than a day for a response. The Network I was able to build and the lecture about entrepreneurship are the major takeaways which strongly influenced my future. I can strongly recommend the Master in Part-time at the HHL for a course with impact. But be prepared they will broaden your horizon and you will have to grow with it.





Horrible Experience

I am also a recent student at HHL. I would agree with your post wholeheartedly. HHL is brilliant at marketing, however, it's more like a Ponzi scheme. A lot of Indians happen to fall into this trap, including me. I joined HHL while letting ESMT go primarily because I thought Leipzig is a cheaper city to live in and the course is cheaper. Always remember if a deal looks too good it is probably a scam. The studies are extremely below average, the college has an abysmal career centre and the campus is a joke. Now let me give you some deeper insights : 1. Given that the college is located in EAST Germany- you need to understand that RACISM is a truth. The college runs MBA and MSc. (Management). MBA is a mere point of luring students as unaware students come to HHL with dreams and hopes of doing an MBA and getting placed. To break it to you softly: MSc is the FLAGSHIP program for HHL- this means 99% of the class is German, and they got offers from the likes of Mckinsey, Bain and Deutsche come to the Germans. Even the foreigners doing MSc. do not get a whiff of the opportunity- please understand- Germany is a "German" speaking country and not internationalised enough to include "English" as the business language. Nonetheless, HHL is such a weak school that it cannot do **** about anything- their placement cell always keeps on crying but they are of absolutely ZERO help. You will not get any scholarships like the Germans do here thanks to the Dean who promotes this divide between Germans and others by giving scholarships thatd more or less cover the entire tuition fees of the German students. 2. The Academic Director for MBA is definitely someone people look at and think that good there's an Indian there- he has absolutely zero value in HHL and in the research world anyways. He is only out there to lure you in to get a fatter commission-the more Indians he gets in the higher his commission and his job is SAFE. 3. The faculty is so horribly poor in their own research work and competence that you'd feel why did I come here. The only reason why some people come here: VISA and citizenship in a few years. You may also procure a job but with the HHL tag being so weak the salaries are way below AVERAGE. Free advice: So either way if you're planning to come to Germany either perfect your German or choose a different country because colleges like HHL get students from all over the world- after which they do not really give a damn whether you get placed or not- it's ALL BUSINESS TO HHL. I cannot speak about many other colleges, but, due to the sheer presence of colleges like Frankfurt business school, WHU and ESMT in bigger cities such as Frankfurt, Berlin and Dusseldorf provide better chances to network during the duration of the course. Do NOT come to HHL and waste your money. Your entire education and stay would cost 50 lacs, instead invest in BITCOIN or STOCKS. OR just do your Masters in Management from a public University in Germany which is way cheaper, has higher chances of scholarship and better placement opportunities. Hope this helps Thanks.