6 Roadblocks to Product Innovation

Written by
Frederik Bussler
May 26, 2021

Innovative companies are constantly on the lookout for new ways to stay ahead of their competitors and ahead of the curve. Considering that 95% of new products and 92% of startups fail, there’s clearly a lot of room for innovation.

However, there are many roadblocks that can get in the way of innovation. These include:

  • Lack of awareness
  • Lack of time or budget
  • Organizational structure or culture
  • Organization size and age
  • Lack of creativity
  • Innovation is not a priority

Lack of awareness

It’s estimated that over a trillion megabytes of data are created every day, much of which is product data, from social media posts to YouTube reviews to Amazon ratings.

This massive amount of data is a gold mine for product innovation teams that know how to listen to it, and derive insight from unstructured data. Unfortunately, many product companies don’t mine this data, which is extremely difficult to do in its raw, unstructured format.

Without the awareness of how to gain insights from this data, product innovation teams are flying blind.

With Commerce.AI’s data engine, this unstructured data is turned into smart actions specific to any product and any industry, effortlessly.

Lack of time or budget

Innovative companies are always looking for new ways to improve their product or service portfolio. 

However, sometimes there's not enough budget for anything new. This can lead to managers cutting back on their research and development budgets, which leads to stagnation in product innovation on all fronts.

Ultimately, failing to allocate a budget to product innovation is far more expensive in the long run, as a lack of innovation is a key cause of business failure. Consider the likes of Blockbuster or Kodak, and you’ll see why creating an innovation budget is so vital.

Organizational structure or culture

Organizations have different structures and cultures that can affect whether or not they're innovative. 

Sometimes this structure is built around following an old way of doing things instead of trying new things, which can lead to innovation being out of reach. 

Organizations may also have cultures that discourage out-of-the-box thinking, which can also be an issue when it comes to innovation. 

Organization size and age

Organization size and age can also affect whether or not an organization may innovate.

Newer organizations often have more direct competition, because they don't have as much history or success as older organizations. This means that they'll need to find a way to innovate quickly if they want to stay ahead. 

At the same time, larger organizations tend to be less innovative, as studies show. While this can be a roadblock to innovation, it doesn’t have to be. Massive companies like Unilever put innovation front-and-center, demonstrated by their hire of a Chief R&D Officer, and their use of tools like Commerce.AI to drive innovation.

Lack of innovation skills

One reason why some companies fail at innovation is because their employees don't know how or don't have the innovation skills when it comes to coming up with new ideas for products or services, which would help them win within their industry or market segment. 

They may even have those ideas, but not know how to implement those ideas in a realistic way, which could also lead them down the wrong path when it comes to innovation; this is why employees with creativity skills are so important for successful innovative companies. 

Many successful companies look for employees who are highly creative, who can help them excel at innovation within their industry or market segment. Finding these types of employees with these types of skills is crucial when it comes to successfully innovating.

With Commerce.AI's data engine, employees can have the tools they need to succeed - namely, access to insights from over a trillion data points around products and services, as well as features like user personas, market reports, sentiment analysis, data alerts, and more.

Another way to bring creativity and innovation to a large organization is to bring on-board startups, an example of which is seen with the Unilever Foundry, which provided startups with access to Unilever’s brands in exchange for innovative technology.

Not prioritizing innovation

One reason why some companies fail at innovation is because innovation isn't a priority for them due either inside or outside factors; for example, an inside factor may be management holding the belief that there are other things that need more attention than innovation (this could be marketing, R&D, etc.). 

An outside factor could include lack of funding or lack of infrastructure (like labs), which makes it more difficult to compete on the innovation front.

In any case, when innovation isn’t prioritized, it’s difficult for innovation teams to succeed.


Innovation should be a priority, not an afterthought. Successful innovation is an organization-wide effort that requires technological awareness, a dedicated budget, creative employees, and even a culture that fosters new ideas.

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