Incremental innovation is a series of small improvements or upgrades made to a company's existing products, services, processes or methods.
The changes implemented through incremental innovation are usually focused on improving an existing product's development efficiency, productivity and competitive differentiation. Many enterprises use incremental innovation to help maintain or improve a product's market position. Incremental innovation has become a common tactic in the consumer technology industry, as companies strive to regularly improve personal devices with customer-friendly features.
The opposite of incremental innovation is radical or disruptive innovation. Radical innovation is when a new product, service, process or strategy is introduced to a market, but is designed to make a significant impact by completely replacing existing technologies and methods. Radical innovation requires a significant investment of time and resources, making incremental innovation less associated with risk.
Although incremental innovation is more common, enterprises often utilize both incremental and radical innovation strategies. For example, a radical innovation can be introduced to the market, and if it is successful the enterprise uses incremental innovation to improve the product and keep it competitive over time.
Innovation has become a major factor in determining modern enterprises' longevity and success. The trend has led many enterprises to put more focus on both incremental and radical innovation strategy, and how they can benefit the company's product development.