Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Delivering Breakthrough Innovation - Where to Start? Ans: New Technologies

In the previous blog post, we discussed the vision of ideal world as the starting point. In this blogpost, we will discuss how an emerging technology can be a starting point.

For the start, one needs to keep an eye out for emerging technologies. There are several ways to do it like having subscriptions of relevant magazines, visiting demo days of corporate accelerators etc.

The next step would be to explore the application of an emerging technology relevant to your business. This would require knowledge of the company's products/services.

Once an application areas is defined, the next step is to investigate technical feasibility and create a mock-up/demo to communicate the idea. Its important to note that to adopt an emerging technology for a given application, it may need to be combined with some other technologies as well. It would be wrong to assume that a technology in isolation can be the whole solution.

The next step is to present the idea with a mock-up/demo to the customers/stakeholders and get their feedback. One can argue that customers should be involved earlier when discussing the area of application. But then there is a risk that the idea would be shot down prematurely. Customers or experts are good at pointing out that why something won't work. The response one can get will be 'things are already being managed well and hence the change is not required', 'something of this sort is already happening', 'users may not accept the change', 'I can't see the real benefit' etc.

Its only when there is a demo in front, the minds of customers or experts get triggered to think how the idea might be useful. Also, the ideas start flowing from them on how to improve it further.

With a stakeholder/customer buy-in , its time to move on to implementation.

Since, we are talking about approaching breakthrough innovation via emerging technologies, often the expertise in an emerging technology will be found absent in the organisation. One would need to tap into external expertise which might be present with an academic institution or a company or an expert. Hence, external partnerships become critical in this approach. An open innovation network not only helps companies to keep abreast with emerging technologies but also find experts to adapt and develop them. 

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