An innovator shows how new uses for products can open new markets

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Technology developed in Africa shows how innovation can lead to new uses for products which can open new markets.

greysanatomy1A small to medium-sized company developed an x-ray scanner for detecting diamonds at mines in South Africa. Because regular checks were made the scanner had to emit minimum levels of radiation.

The innovative entrepreneurs making the scanner were not satisfied with this one market for their product. They began looking for new uses for applications for their scanner technology.

Now Lodox Systems has supplied more than 40 of their x-ray scanners to hospitals in South Africa and around the world. Their Xmplar-dr scanner takes 13 seconds to produce a full body overview of injuries and foreign bodies (such as bullets in gunshot victims).

The Lodox Xmplar-dr scanner recently achieved its 15 minutes of fame on television when it appeared on season nine, episode 18 of the US medical drama series “Grey’s Anatomy “.

What’s this innovation got to do with smaller businesses and start-ups?

My point is that any business owner can come up with new uses for their products or services which will open new markets to them.

But how do you go about discovering new uses?

The answer lies in innovation. Look around and see how people are presently using your product. Think about how other groups of people could benefit from your product.

If you’re at a total loss and haven’t found any potential uses that could lead to new markets, try deliberate personal brainstorming techniques. SCAMPER is a useful tool. It stands for Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to other use, Eliminate and Reverse.

Ask questions about each of the SCAMPER elements. For example, Put to another use:

What other industries could benefit from my product?
Which people don’t use my product but have a need for it?
With slight modifications, how would my product behave differently in other circumstances?

Coke was first a medicinal product until it was used as a soft drink. Kleenex tissues were introduced for make-up. Then the company discovered people were using them to blow their noses. Macdonald’s first targeted children but the bigger market was teens and adults. An organic food market has found a new market selling to top hotels.

What new uses and markets does your product or service have? It could pay off for you especially in this economy.

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