29 January 2009

Technological Innovation - How simple is it?

This is the time, when so many companies are sharply cutting back, the creative thinkers and innovation managers talk about continuous investment in innovation. They argue that the companies should look for opportunity to cut back on operations but not on innovation. Their concern seems to be valid. While many companies are giving a bleak outlook, there are very few companies growing even in the tough times. Are those companies well managed or do they happen to delight the investors just by mere coincidence? Whatever it is. The innovation is going to be a key differentiating factor. Many companies say that they are "most innovative company". But the real fact is that they aren't. No one other than the company says that they are innovative. They speak "Greek and Latin". Without understand what is innovation and simple way to move forward, most of the companies are going to be in no man's land. Is there are simple way to identify where the market is going? It is simple to say "Stay Abreast".

Innovation is doing things in a way that no one has done before. Innovation has clear business results both for the producer and consumer. For example, consider the case of Edison. He had so many inventions and he marketed all the inventions.  He produced so many products and sold them (obviously for a profit) and the inventions changed the quality of life of the consumers. Business results are key to innovation. All innovations must have Win-Win proposition.

Innovation can be classified into two types - blue ocean and red ocean. In the case of red ocean, you primarily focus on improving or redefining existing things and few of your competitors are doing the same. Blue Ocean is all about creating new markets. In the current climate, it is difficult to create new markets in realistic terms. However, you can be the first to swim in a red ocean.  

Innovation is catching up with the trend and moving along with trend. The nature spawns so many species but only very few species survive. The same is the case for innovation. When there are so many technologies, the fittest one survives. However, for someone who is innovating, the probability of identifying the right one is very low and hence there has to be a portfolio in innovation. One should try so many things and only then he/she can innovate few things (Darwinian law). But one can increase the probability of innovation just by observing the developments consistently. Who believed that "Web 2.0" would be a big success. But the companies who had Web 2.0 in their portfolio where successful.

How to spot on the developments? Simple. Just subscribe to lot of newsletter services and do a data mining at a simple level every month. At the end of few months, you can see where the world is going. Once you see the trend in a specific direction, maximize your energy and focus on high traction area. When you do this, the probability of uncovering something new and solid (with tangible business results) is more. Innovation needs a lot of hard work and never comes that easy.

Are you asking me, did you try it? My honest answer is "No". However, I wanted to try this approach towards innovation and get my idea reviewed by you :).

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