How innovation can supercharge scaleup's productivity and growth

Part 3 of our Optimising Operational Efficiency blog series

Embracing innovation to supercharge your scaleup's productivity and growth

Welcome to Part 3 of our blog series focused on “Optimising Operational Efficiency for SaaS Platform Development”.

If you’re looking to scale your business while improving your operational efficiency there are three levers you can pull. If you are already managing your costs well, and have embraced automation, it’s time to consider how innovation can help your business grow.

An innovative approach to productivity and growth

Innovation is strategically important. It can help you stay competitive, optimise performance and costs, streamline processes, enhance the customer experience, and cultivate an innovative culture – all of which contribute to sustainable growth and long-term operational excellence.

Consider the many benefits:

  • Improved competitiveness. You already know how dynamic and competitive the SaaS marketplace is. So, it’s no surprise that continuous innovation is essential to help you differentiate your products, meet evolving customer needs, and stay ahead of competitors. Without innovation, operational efficiency gains can be quickly negated by disruptive rivals. Remember, your staff are your key differentiator so use them to help you design your systems to be the best they can be and be unique to your business
  • Improved performance and scalability. As your product matures, architectural and technological innovations become crucial for maintaining and improving system scalability, performance, and reliability. Innovative approaches to infrastructure, architecture, and emerging technologies enable more efficient operations at scale.
  • Increased productivity. Innovations in development processes, DevOps practices, automation, and workflow streamlining can significantly enhance operational efficiency by reducing manual overhead, increasing productivity, and accelerating time-to-market. Innovations in platform capabilities, APIs, and partner integrations can create a more efficient and seamless ecosystem, improving operational efficiency across the entire value chain.
  • Improved cost management. Additionally, product, process, and technological innovations can lead to cost optimisations through more efficient resource utilisation, streamlined operations, and leveraging disruptive pricing or business models.
  • Improved customer experience. Continuous product innovation is vital for delivering an exceptional customer experience, meeting evolving user expectations, and driving adoption and retention, which are key drivers of operational efficiency. Speak to your customers as often as possible to understand their changing needs and feed these ideas back into your products to make them more sticky and desirable.

These benefits can only be realised by creating a culture of innovation.

Fostering an agile, forward-thinking mindset within the organisation, that attracts and retains top talent is essential for driving operational excellence. We’ll talk more about how to do this in a moment. But first, let’s dig deeper into how product and technology innovation can supercharge your scaleup.

Spotlight on Product & Technology Innovation

Businesses can innovate in many areas. SaaS product companies can consider many types of innovation to help them scale up and improve productivity:

  • Product: Making iterative improvements or creating new products or services that disrupt the market. Redesigning core architecture to improve performance and scalability.
  • Technology: Building new platforms and frameworks to support multiple products or services. Embracing new capabilities and emerging tech.
  • Process: Optimising and automating software development and business processes. Exploring new revenue models, pricing and GTM strategies.
  • Organisational: Creating a culture of experimentation, restructuring teams and departments to support innovation and collaboration.
  • Market: Re-positioning within existing markets or expanding into new markets or customer segments.
  • Ecosystem: Collaborating with partners and leveraging open-source innovation.

When considering product and technology innovation for operational efficiency, SaaS companies often adopt a balanced approach, combining incremental improvements with more disruptive or architectural innovations over time.

Incremental innovation can drive continuous optimisation, while disruptive and architectural changes can provide step-change improvements in efficiency and competitiveness. Radical innovation (i.e. the creation of technologies, services, and business models that open up entirely new markets) can totally transform operational models, but is high risk and quite rare.

Let's dig a little deeper into the benefits and risks of some of these types of innovation.

Incremental Innovation:

Making iterative improvements to existing products, features, or services.


  • Builds on existing product knowledge and infrastructure, reducing development time and costs.
  • Allows for continuous improvement and refinement of the product, keeping it competitive.
  • Can lead to improved user experience, better performance, and enhanced functionality.
  • Lower risk and more predictable outcomes compared to disruptive innovations.


  • May not be enough to differentiate the product in a crowded market or fend off disruptive competitors.
  • Can lead to technical debt and architectural complexity over time if not managed properly.
  • May not address fundamental shifts in customer needs or market dynamics.
Disruptive Innovation:

Introducing new products or services that disrupt the market.


  • Creating new markets or disrupting existing ones, thus providing a significant competitive advantage.
  • Allows for addressing unmet needs or under-served customer needs with innovative solutions.
  • Can lead to new revenue streams and business models, driving growth and profitability.
  • Promotes a culture of risk-taking and continuous innovation within the organisation.


  • High development costs and uncertainties, with a higher risk of failure.
  • Requires substantial organisational commitment, resources, and patience for long development cycles.
  • May face resistance or scepticism from existing customers or partners.
  • Requires careful market timing and positioning to succeed.
Architectural Innovation:

Redesigning core architecture improves performance and scalability.


  • Improves system scalability, performance, and reliability, enabling more efficient operations at scale.
  • Facilitates easier integration with new technologies, services, or platforms.
  • Enhances maintainability and extensibility of the product, reducing technical debt.
  • Can lead to cost savings through optimised infrastructure and resource utilisation.


  • Significant upfront investment and potential disruption to existing products or services.
  • Requires careful planning and execution to avoid downtime or data loss during migration.
  • May require retraining or hiring new talent with different skill sets.
  • Potential compatibility issues with existing integrations, customisations, or third-party dependencies.

So, what's the right approach for your business?

The key is to carefully evaluate the risks and benefits of each approach, aligning them with the company's strategic objectives, resources, and risk appetite. When developing software, don’t forget to include good, automated testing so you can continue to evolve and innovate without being caught in the “legacy trap” where older unknown systems slow you down.

How do SaaS businesses approach innovation?

As there are different types of innovation, there are different approaches too, i.e. creating internal innovation programmes vs outsourcing innovation projects.

Different sectors approach innovation differently.

For example, Pharma and Healthcare industries have mostly embedded innovation into their organisations, whereas Public Sector organisations continue to outsource innovation working with partners regularly or all sizes of projects and programmes. Both approaches are valid, but it is imperative to keep an internal understanding of your innovation and involve your staff as this is where the best ideas will derive from.

What about SaaS businesses?

Many SaaS businesses adopt a hybrid approach, leveraging both internal innovation programs and outsourcing innovation efforts strategically. Internal programs foster a culture of innovation and ensure alignment with the company's core objectives, while outsourcing allows them to tap into external expertise and accelerate specific innovation initiatives.

Here are some of the pros and cons of each approach for you to consider:

The optimal approach depends on your unique situation – a combination of your company's size, the industry you operate in, the resources available to you and the nature of your innovation goals.

At Blue Hat, we see many SaaS businesses outsource innovation projects to technology consultancies like us.

Client Spotlight: Making the Move to GenAI

One of our clients recently came to us wanting to look into how GenAI might improve their existing internal data processing.

Though suffering somewhat from the “legacy trap” we had worked with them on a process to move forward. However, the need to try GenAI was strong, so we created an external team to run a technical spike and deliver a full GenAI prototype. Taking data from their internal systems we created an end-to-end GenAI process and new endpoint with full UI/UX input to take to their board and investors to demonstrate the art of the possible. This prototype was then taken in-house by their development team to fully integrate.

Sometimes it’s seen as an easier approach by saving time and expensive than hiring a specialist team. It can stimulate creative thinking (looking at problems with a fresh perspective), and ring-fence resources to work at pace. However, it doesn’t help build skills internally, and external partners are unlikely to have the same deep experience and knowledge about your company and customers.

It's why we believe in driving innovation from the inside.

A strange thing for a consultancy to say, perhaps? Let’s explain...

Driving innovation from the inside.

Each business must carefully weigh the pros and cons of innovating internally vs outsourcing for themselves. It’s not a simple process or calculation. Each business will place importance on different factors (costs, IP, speed, talent etc).

While outsourcing can mean quicker process, reduced costs, access to expertise and collaborations, we know many SaaS businesses place higher value on protecting their IP, their deeper understanding of their market and customer and better alignment with company vision and goals. And quite rightly so.

Creating a culture that supports innovation requires a systematic and intentional approach. It doesn’t happen by chance.

Where do you begin? And how long will it take? 

It’s worth knowing there are no quick fixes or shortcuts. Building a culture of innovation is a longer-term commitment and a holistic approach that involves leadership, processes, structures, and incentives.

But there is help at hand (starting with some guidance below). And the rewards are significant.

Sustainable growth comes from consistently reinforcing and nurturing an innovative mindset – meaning SaaS businesses can stay ahead of the curve and drive operational excellence through continuous improvement and transformative ideas.

We work with many SaaS businesses helping them to build their own innovation programmes, strengthening their internal capabilities and processes – and ultimately improving their operational efficiencies and increasing their potential for sustainable growth. Read through some of our case studies here.

Top 5 strategies for building a culture of innovation inside your business

#1 Lead from the top: Innovation must be a top-down priority, with senior management visibly championing and encouraging creative thinking and continuous improvement. They should communicate the importance of experimentation, celebrate successes, and provide the necessary resources and support. Lead the charge to facilitate cross-functional collaboration between different teams and departments. Break down silos - diverse perspectives and interdisciplinary thinking can spark innovative ideas and solutions.

#2 Empower your people: Encourage team members to take calculated risks, experiment with new ideas, and challenge the status quo. Provide them with the autonomy and decision-making power to pursue innovative projects, and create a safe environment where failures are seen as learning opportunities. Invest in training and development that help staff stay up-to-date with emerging technologies. Consider an intrapreneurship programme focused on exploring new business opportunities. Host internal innovation workshops, hackathons, or ideation sessions.

#3 Seek out beneficial partnerships: Cultivate relationships with external partners, such as other start-ups, universities, relevant associations, and industry experts. Gain fresh perspectives, access new technologies, and explore open innovation opportunities. Look to collaborate with senior product and technology leaders to validate market observations and trends.

#4 Prioritise user insights: Relentlessly pursue the capture and understanding of users’ needs, pain points, and behaviour through ongoing user research, analytics, and feedback mechanisms. This can uncover opportunities for innovative products, features, or process improvements.

#5 Measure and iterate: We’ve all heard the phrase “what gets measured gets done” and innovation is no different. It’s important to define the right metrics and key performance indicators to track and measure innovation efforts. Use this data to continuously refine and improve the innovation processes and culture within the organisation. Also consider recognising and rewarding innovative achievements, whether they are successful or not – as this reinforces the desired behaviours and encourages your team to embrace an innovative mindset.

How Blue Hat Associates can help you champion innovation.

As we recommend above, innovation must be championed by your Board. It often falls on the shoulders of your CTO or CPO to define your innovation programme and lead cultural change. It’s a tall order, even if they’ve had experience of running these types of programmes before.

We’re often brought in to support businesses who are embracing innovation:

  • Bridge resource gaps: we provide support on BAU (business as usual) while innovation programmes can be defined and established
  • Sounding board: we provide technology leadership advisory to the Board and/or coaching to support CTO’s and CPO’s as they lead innovation efforts internally
  • Access to experts: we help run initial innovation projects and POCs to demonstrate the process to newly formed innovation teams (i.e. a hybrid approach)

As a multi-domain organisation, our collective experience across multiple industries means we observe different approaches and innovations trends. We know what works and what doesn’t. We help our client’s embed innovation into their business more quickly and successfully.

Working across the divide

At a first glance, the worlds of finance and pharma seem very different, with very divergent outcomes. However, both are fundamentally “data businesses” and the management, analysis, and delivery of that data via different business processes are very common. Many years of pharma experience have helped us develop a number of different financial processes and ways to manage and improve data quality to give better, faster and cost effective change to our clients and theirs.


Think you can benefit from innovation? Here's what to do next.

Thanks for reading, we appreciate your time and would love to hear from you.

In this blog series, we’ve focused on Managing Costs, Automation, and Innovation as three key strategies for Optimising Operational Efficiency. Are there any that you have found particularly useful? Of course, there are more levers you can pull. "Collaboration" was suggested as a potential fourth strategy - and will be included as a bonus section in our upcoming (free to download) report on optimsing operational efficiency for SaaS platform development.

If you’re not already, please follow us on LinkedIn to be the first to access the report when its launched and to stay tuned for more insights and advice.

You can email us to book a free, friendly initial chat with one of our Partners.


About the author

With so much advice freely available these days, we believe, it’s always good to check who’s writing an article and why. So, here’s a short intro to us, Blue Hat Associates and why we’re sharing our thoughts on this important topic.

As an experienced collective of senior technology leaders, we know firsthand how hard it can be to scale a business. Our mission is to help scaling SaaS businesses achieve their technology and product goals faster and more cost-effectively.

Working across industries, we come across some common challenges our clients are facing and have built our services to address them. As a boutique consultancy, we work closely with our clients to effectively bolster their leadership and development teams to push through their most pressing technology and product problems.


Robert Gill | Partner