STEM (Science, Technology, Education, and Math) has created a niche discipline across the education and employment sectors. STEM innovation is not only responsible for driving the degrees of many people, but also the careers. It’s helped advance science and technology in both public and private sectors and has helped increase product development and revenue for many businesses.
If there’s any doubt that STEM has impacted companies, take this stat from a 2016 Forbes article: “As of 2015, STEM occupations–those requiring a degree in science, technology, engineering, and math-related subjects–account for almost 8.6 million jobs, or 6.2% of overall employment in the U.S. The highest-paying roles among these occupations come with annual paychecks of nearly $150,000.”
STEM is ultimately the collection of educational disciplines that grow engineers, IT professionals, trainers, and analysts that businesses need to both grow revenue and remain competitive in their industry through software solutions and other products and services.
How encouraging STEM research and innovation can help your business
With the growth of STEM’s impact on business, some organizations are asking themselves how they can drive STEM innovation at their company to help not just attract and retain the best talent, but also to continue providing the best solutions to their market. Here are some innovative tips to keep the STEM focus alive and thriving in your organization.
1. Hire the right backgrounds
STEM-focused degrees can be useful in any business, and those who have a degree with a STEM orientation are extremely valuable. They often bring to the table cutting edge knowledge of technology trends, as well as a fresh perspective on issues. For instance, if you are in leadership at a furniture company, it’s possible you don’t think that STEM grads are a good fit for your business – you want knowledgeable salespeople and experienced marketers. But employees with a STEM background are able to look at problems differently – an engineering focus could be applied to how furniture solutions are manufactured and distributed, a math-oriented candidate could help rethink pricing structures to grow a competitive advantage, and technology-focused individuals could help analyze which sales or CRM system are the best solutions for your particular organization. The best way to drive new, innovative ideas is by
2. Keep up the conversation
Businesses are often worried about divulging trade secrets by having open conversations with other businesses, particularly competitors. But keeping the lines of communication open is actually healthy for your organization. Not only does an influx of new thinking occur when you’re in dialogue, but you can also learn from the experiences of others. That’s why conferences and conventions are so popular – industries are constantly changing and businesses know the value of learning from those around them, particularly those that have gone before. To keep growing and innovating, make sure that you’re keeping conference attendance and networking with other businesses a priority.
3. Don’t be technology-averse
It might go without saying that to be STEM-friendly and innovative, you have to be tech-friendly. But this involves more than just accepting that software can help support your business – it requires you to be forward-thinking and proactive. Following tech news can help you see the potential opportunities. Can your warehouse benefit from IoT products? What about AI? It’s important to not just apply solutions but to try different approaches. The most innovative brands are those that discover an “off-label” use for something and are able to read between the lines to see how technology might be best applied to their needs.
4. Look to other leaders
Going to conferences and conventions is one thing, but what about the companies that are using STEM in their business but don’t attend these events? Finding companies that have their own specific initiatives to drive STEM pursuits – like Google, Microsoft, and PepsiCo – can get you thinking about how to better focus on meaningful STEM initiatives in your own company. Using other companies as an example, an inspiration or a creative jumping-off point can help you do a better job of thinking of your business as part professional, part educational – a company and a classroom. All companies are, to some degree, labs in that they are trying to create a better experience, product, or service and there is both deliberate knowledge and data that goes into that, as well as trial and error. STEM innovation at work help to make every business a more successful ideation lab.
5. Provide educational opportunities to other employees
In addition to leaders and managers taking time to attend conferences and hiring those with an educational background in STEM, you can encourage other employees to get science and tech-minded with on-site training opportunities. Bring speakers in the house who will get employees motivated and inspired to continue innovating in their jobs and departments.
STEM Innovation is the key to a successful future for organizations in every industry. No business is 100% future-proof, so staying connected to innovative and forward-thinking industries like STEM can help you stay competitive and remain plugged into what creative thinking you should be doing.