Business development vs innovation: What’s the difference?9 min read


Business development and innovation both play a vital role in driving sustainable productivity and growth. Though closely related, these terms convey different concepts and processes.

However, in the world of business, these words are often mistaken for one another, thereby affecting revenue-related processes like market penetration, the sales cycle, and the revenue forecast.

In this article, we examine the differences between these two terms, figure out what unique roles they play in the context of your products and services, and discover how interrelated they are in a broader context.

Let’s get started.

What is innovation?

Brands understand that innovation is necessary to thrive in the competition. 

Innovation refers to the process of realizing new products, ideas, and services to generate greater profits and engage with other customer segments. It is a continuous process that involves challenging propositions, initiatives, and ideas to stand out and foster brand loyalty.


However, innovation doesn’t always mean inventing new products nor offering a whole new set of features and services. Innovation occurs with a brand’s efforts of going above and beyond to incessantly bring out value, impact, and creativity.

By the way, if you’re interested in innovation, we recently published a free ebook that does a deep dive on innovation. It explains the different principles and steps involved in innovation. Make sure to check it out before you leave.

What are the processes under innovation?

When processes under innovation are done correctly, unpredictability can be diminished. Because of this, businesses can make sound decisions to navigate development more effectively and lower potential risks.

Let’s take a look at some of the most regularly utilized processes.

Idea Generation

Idea generation is the lifeblood of organizations and is an important process for improvement. It consists of making and accumulating new ideas to solve existing problems and discover possibilities.

Primarily, idea generation is done by brainstorming and mind mapping. Its purpose is to arrive at concepts that can deliver the needs of various markets and organizations.

This can be made easier by using a platform like Accept Mission.

There are features reserved to help you with generating and collecting ideas. For example, you could start undercover ideation missions where participants could pitch in their ideas without revealing their identities.

Accept Mission's kanban feature

Idea generation is necessary for businesses to gain doable designs and ideas for new products and features while conducting improvements on areas like customer acquisition and service. Additionally, idea generation also discovers opportunities to be explored.

It finds the necessary changes to implement within the company’s structure and recognizes feasible measures to make the business more profitable and competitive.

If you take a closer look, all of them have a common theme — improvement and innovation. Although innovation is not all about ideas, they are vital to the overall process.

Idea Selection and Experimentation

This is where the evaluation of the business idea happens. Everything of importance for the continuation of the idea is discussed in this stage — the pros and cons, risks, future problems, and even benefits.

The idea is moved to a physical or logical phase, and organizations create channels to receive feedback from the concerned parties (stakeholders, members, external parties, customers, etc.).

Screening protocols are established and a selection, recommendation, or a set of findings will serve as the basis for the idea’s future to be decided upon.

For example, stakeholders could upvote or like certain ideas that they find interesting. They could also leave a comment and even share their thoughts or insights.

The three most-used methods of selecting the best ideas include:

  1. User Selection
  2. Expert Scoring
  3. End Customer Scoring

As for experimentation, it is the point where screened and mobilized ideas are tested for sustainability at a certain time frame. New discoveries are made at this phase and another set of data is collected.

An example of a successful experimentation stage was when Amazon did a trial run on its grocery delivery service at particular Seattle suburbs. The data gathered from this trial episode helped Amazon Fresh to expand its business to major cities within the United States.

Innovation Project Management

The simplest way to describe innovation project management is that it’s a process that would help deliver a successful innovation through solving a problem.

Although starting with a great idea is the most typical way to kickstart an innovation project, it doesn’t mean it’s always the best approach. With innovation project management, you get to start with finding the root cause of a problem.

Naturally, innovation project management follows the innovation execution stage process, a roadmap that provides the innovation concepts and business plans needed for the product development and implementation process stages.

What are the steps in the innovation execution stage process?

The Accept Mission platform comes with tools that could help with innovation project management like:

  • Innovation project categorization
  • Connecting ideas to a project
  • Connecting innovators to a project
  • Starting a new initiative on the platform itself
  • A kanban view or Gantt chart with an overview of all projects
  • Costs and time analysis

Learn more about the features of Accept Mission that could help with innovation management.

What is business development?

The term “business development” refers to a spectrum of ideas and practices that businesses must implement to amplify reach and profitability. It involves the formation and execution of objectives like strategic partnerships, wider audience reach, and sales growth.

What is business development?

As business development affects all the departments present within the company, business developers must be up-to-date with the market’s movements to identify opportunities for expansion, revenue increase, and overall improvement.

What are the areas under business development?

Activities under business development exist in various departments. All of these efforts are navigated by the business’s development goals. 

Some of the areas under business development are the following:

Sales and Marketing

In business, the word ‘sales’ is defined depending upon the context in which it is used. However, ‘sales’ generally encompasses every activity that leads to the selling of a product or a service. 

This may be done in various ways, such as talking over the phone, in person, or even through digital communication methods like email, Facebook, Instagram, or any other social media platforms.

With the intent to establish sales pipelines and convert leads, companies hire employees that are committed to selling their products and services.

Sales and Marketing

On the other hand, marketing involves persuading customers to choose your product or service over your competitors’. It drives interest in the business with the use of market research and analysis to comprehend the interest and behavior of customers. 

However, the goal of sales actually goes beyond achieving monthly benchmarks. It aims to provide real solutions for customers and generate revenue for the business.

Technically, marketing has three goals:

  • To get the attention of customers
  • To induce a sale
  • To present the customer with concrete and doable action

Ultimately, the best marketing strategies help brands come up with a positive and helpful experience with their target audience.

Product Management

Product management is an interdisciplinary function in a business that supports and manages all the tasks related to advancing, marketing, and selling a product. Its primary objective is for a company to create the right product and to create the product right.

It links different departments to confirm that the product fits the business’s vision. It renders business goals into production necessities and expounds product features and extremities.

Product Management

Considering that the goal of product management is to provide value to the business, professionals in this area play a critical role in identifying important steps that would lead to fulfilling its fundamental purpose.

The intricacy and size of projects involved cause product management to be divided into two contrasting but interdependent areas — product development and product marketing. Both must work hand-in-hand to increase the company’s sales revenues, profit margins, and market share.

Vendor Management

Businesses and individuals that deliver goods and services are deemed to be their vendors. A company can operate with a lot of vendors based on different rates and terms organized by a vendor manager.

Vendor management encompasses all activities connected to vendors. Things like researching and sourcing vendors, setting turnaround times, quotas, quality of work, rating performance, and payment-related terms are discussed in this area.

Vendor Management

It builds relationships with third-party vendors by habitual cooperation and stable monitoring. It includes working together with vendors as a team to come up with contracts that would benefit both parties.

Substantially, vendor management aims to substantiate lasting vendor relationships over short-term gains.

Moreover, even if business owners think that vendor management means looking for suppliers with the lowest price for products and services, vendor management is actually more than that.

What does innovation mean in business development?

Innovation and business development are closely interrelated. It has a direct relationship that businesses must carefully watch out for as one affects the other.

In a sense, innovation is a necessity. Globalization is at its peak and companies have to adapt to the present-day challenges produced by modernization. To thrive in the competition, brands have to innovate and stand out.

In addition, innovation must be conducted to foster and achieve brand loyalty. The conception of fresh offerings, market segments, business models, experiences, and processes positions the company for business development and growth.

How about instead of going through it alone and unsupervised, you join us on one of your free innovation webinars and see what you can learn from this event? It’s a free session and you can freely ask questions to help shed some light on your concerns.

Published On: May 1st, 2021Categories: Innovation management

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