Trends And Predictions In (Open) Innovation
October 1, 2012 Editor 0
What are the main trends in innovation? Mark Turrell, CEO of Imaginatik, shares his 10 predictions.
1. Innovation involves more than just R&D (seriously!) – Companies like Wrigley may have pioneered this, but it is clear that the best companies realized a while ago that R&D is only one aspect of innovation, not the be all and end all, and often not even the driving force. Growth often comes from innovation in new channels, new packaging, business models and so on – and it makes no sense to treat innovation as a single-function business activity, hidden away with the scientists in R&D.
2. Not enough invented here so look outside – We may still have cultural challenges to overcome in looking outside company walls to bring in new inventions and methods, but companies really don’t have a choice anymore. The pace of change is too rapid – and no firm can hire all the best people. Open Innovation is here to stay.
3. Experiment with Collective Intelligence and crowdsourcing – Expect to see an ever-increasing number of firms applying crowdsourcing internally and externally to address a variety of problems, from new product development to sustainability. The path has been set for expansion!
4. Ideas are precious so manage them – With Gartner predicting that Idea Management will be mainstream in two years, it is time for companies to effectively manage ideas and idea generation rather than relying on heaps of Post-Its and random spreadsheets. The methods and tools exist to do it properly, so companies in 2010 will really up their game in this area.
5. Innovate the Innovation Process (and do it properly for a change) – All companies innovate in some way. Some do it way better than others. Top firms have been experimenting for 10 years with online consumer insights, new means of doing rapid prototypes, and new physical environments to trial and test innovations in realistic scenarios. There are still too many firms jumping on to simplistic, fancy sounding innovation bandwagons, without thinking through the implications. So we’re expecting more companies to change the way they are innovating, and to spend more time putting in place proper systems to do so.
6. Innovation with full-time staff… – It is remarkable how many firms do NOT have full-time staff working on innovation. Firms have 50-person six sigma teams, and 25% of a person’s time to drive innovation. That does not make any sense – and has been proven not to work over the last five years. Companies therefore are moving people into innovation full-time; more and more are doing so to manage the process of innovating.
7. … And full-time trained staff are best – Moreover, firms are starting to train their staff on consistent methods. The Hult IXL Center has made great strides in formalizing Innovation Management training. Right now there are many similar methods for handling innovation and all kinds of small training organizations who can help. We need to make a lot of progress in developing a common language and playbook. This will make it easier for firms to hire people into innovation positions, and to ensure a common level of competence and skill for those inside the firm.
8. Don’t be surprised that your CEO gets very interested in innovation – As firms climb out of the slump, growth is on every executive’s mind. Innovation has the track record of delivering real return on investment and growth in shareholder value. The CEO is going to be banging on the door of the innovation profession, and those inside the firm professing to be experts, to get some help putting their firms back on the growth path.
Please don’t disappoint!
9. The future is cheap … and coming from the bottom of the Economic Pyramid – Emerging economies have always had to innovate with less resources. Some have survived by being fast copiers of Western inventions. Others have progressed by dramatically cutting costs through cheap labor. However, we are now 15-plus years into the development of the emerging economies, and many of their successful firms are becoming prodigious innovators in their own right. Expect innovation methods developed in India and China to move into the Western world, bringing lower cost solutions to developed world problems. This won’t happen overnight – but the path is established so we’ll be looking out for signs (for example, bringing low-cost health treatments from India into Europe and the US).
10. Innovators learn to love measurement and ROI – The great thing about most types of innovation is that you can measure tangible net benefits to corporate activities. Companies really started taking innovation seriously when firms like Procter & Gamble calculated their Innovation Growth Gap. There are plenty of techniques to help companies measure both the potential impact of innovation, and the results of their innovation process. Now is the time to get the calculator out – it will help to justify budgets and expand one’s organizational capacity to innovate.
Mark Turrell is the CEO and co-founder of Imaginatik plc, a software and services company helping organizations solve their biggest and most important problems using Collective Intelligence, enterprise crowdsourcing and collaborative innovation. Prior to founding Imaginatik, he conducted his doctoral research at Cass Business School in London, studying the diffusion and application of collaborative technologies to business problems, whilst working at Intel. With Imaginatik, he and his team have pioneered many of the fundamental concepts behind innovation management, idea management and Collective Intelligence. Mark advises senior leaders on the practicalities of leveraging these techniques and has worked closely with Imaginatik’s Global 500 clients including Chevron, Pfizer, Whirlpool, and Xerox. He is a frequent speaker at conferences around the world, such as the World Economic Forum events at Davos and the World Innovation Forum in New York. He maintains links to the academic community and is an Associate Professor at the Hult International School of Management IXL Center. Mark is visionary in his thinking round the power of Collective Intelligence. He is passionately committed to making change on a global scale, and is driving Imaginatik’s initiative to work with nonprofits and NGOs to tackle world problems, such as water, energy, poverty and waste, spearheading the firm’s membership of the Clinton Global Initiative. Mark lives between Boston, Berlin and London. He speaks French and German, and enjoys travel and writing.
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