Is Digital Innovation or Evolution the Right Choice for Your Tech Startup?

Anthony, one of our long-time clients, wasn’t sure which direction would be best for his Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company. He came to me, and I explained the difference between Digital Innovation and Evolution. After some discussion with him, I recommended that he go ahead with an innovation strategy.

More often than not, the choice is not so simple.

This question has been asked by many entrepreneurs throughout history. For example, in the early 1800s, some would ask if a patent was more important than an invention and others were wondering which of those two paths should be taken with electric lighting as they searched for ways to make it practical when gas lamps were still dominant.

It IS a complicated question. It’s important for tech founders to fully understand the difference between the two because one path will lead you down a winding road that could potentially get lost while the other can provide some clarity right from day one.

Innovation is all about trying something new and potentially very different from what has been done before, but you might not know if it will work until the idea takes off. Evolution means building on existing knowledge or processes to make them better through time and experimentation – with less risk of failure than innovation would give because it builds upon previous successes instead of starting fresh without any guarantees that anything will happen at all!

Why is it needed?

One might ask, why do we always feel the need to change? Surely, it’s better to stick with what is already successful! 

Creativity and the drive to innovate have been fundamental traits of our society. Without them, there would be no internet-connected devices ubiquitous in modern life that allow us not only access to information but also to communicate more effectively with others around the world without ever leaving home. We wouldn’t have all the things we know today without them! But even with this knowledge, in light of the current economic downturn, it’s natural to question whether companies should stick with what’s already working.

The innovation and progressive change aspects for digital transformation are both crucial, but together they can be even more impactful. Innovation is a fundamental part of the current technological landscape while iterative changes clear out old ways to pave the way for new innovations that will happen with time.

The importance of innovation is often emphasized in the business world, especially with technology. When a company’s product has been stagnant for too long and customers are growing tired of it, sometimes they have to think outside the box and be innovative in order to stay afloat. 

What if evolution could also play an important role when looking at companies’ products as well; if there was one minor change that could make all the difference such as streamlining the user experience, or adding highly desired features on top of what already exists, then why not give this option some consideration before doing anything drastic and risky.

Which one to choose?

So how do we know which way will benefit us most? As always I say “It depends.” 

A business can make a decision on what path they want their product line to take, either with radical changes that result in innovative products or incremental improvements as an evolutionary process. These two approaches may seem very similar but are both actually quite different; there is no single right way forwards when it comes down to choosing between them because each has its own advantages and disadvantages depending on the industry sector you work within, how conservative your customers might be (or not), among other factors such as climate change which could impact supply chains etcetera.

Generally speaking, Innovation is the right path for industries that are rapidly changing. While evolution is the right path for industries where change happens at a slower pace. Innovation is the best way to go if you want to create something new and different; Evolution is better for improving what already exists or making minor adjustments.

Here are five questions to ask yourself when considering whether innovation or evolution is the right approach for your company.

  1. Is my product a good fit for my target market? Does my company need an innovative product that will be different from what’s on the market?  
  2. Do we have a revolutionary idea, but our current technology isn’t up to date enough yet? 
  3. Are there any opportunities in our industry it would make sense for us to take advantage of before someone else does so first?
  4. Is my industry growing, or is it shrinking?
  5. What are the risks and rewards of taking each path?

Implementing a new strategy or innovation is not always as easy it may seem!


It’s important to have all the necessary resources and information before taking any steps. In order for your innovation to be successful, you need time-management skills, knowledge on how change happens in an organization (or even yourself), follow through with specific tasks, anticipate possible changes that could happen along the way like resistance from others about implementing something different than normal–and more importantly execute effectively what has been planned out so far.

In short, there really is no one answer but instead multiple points worth considering first which will ultimately lead up to decisions made by the individual(s) involved. As you build and scale your tech. startup, it’s important to consider the direction that you’re going in. Be sure to think about innovation and evolution when making a choice.

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