Here you get some of the messages I shared at the Innovation Lab conferences for small and medium sized companies in the Baltic region. I think they are globally universal so I hope you will enjoy this too.
Global megatrends: All companies regardless of their sizes need to understand that the global megatrends that drive innovation today are speed, transparency and openness.
Shrinking window of opportunity: The faster pace of change, business and innovation also has a significant impact of the window of opportunity. Only 5-10 years ago, it was fairly big and moving slowly, which made it possible for even average corporate innovation teams to hit it frequently. Not anymore. It’s smaller and moving much faster. This also means that once a company hit the window, they have less time to enjoy it. They need to reinvent themselves much faster. The long lasting cash cows are gone.
Holistic approach: Innovation needs to go beyond products and services today. This makes open innovation and crowdsourcing highly relevant as they can bring more diversity into the innovation process by engaging external partners as well as more business functions.
Open innovation will disappear: As a term that is… Within 5-7 years, we will no longer talk about open innovation as a term since it will simply merge with what we call innovation today. The difference is that we will have a much higher level of external input in the innovation process compared to what we have today.
Some industries are more ready for open innovation than others: How long is the innovation development cycle for the products and services? How much money is required? What is the role of IPR? How conservative is the industry? What is the internal readiness of companies in the industry? Imagine the fast moving consumer goods industry versus the pharma industry when getting answers to these questions. Then, you get the idea and you can assess where your company and industry stands.
Crowdsourcing and open innovation also work for start-ups: Sun Night Solar had spent more than USD 250,000 on developing lighting solutions for developing countries. They were running out of money, but decided to run a challenge on InnoCentive. Almost 1,000 people contributed with 78 solutions in just 62 days. As the CEO of Sun Night Solar, Mark Bent said it “It took me 18 months to develop my initial product. With InnoCentive and my second product, the research to prototype took two months.”
The corporate benefits are worth the efforts: They include speed, diversity in ideas and input and access to new knowledge pools. Companies also get the opportunity to experiment with the future models of innovation, they get marketing as well as innovation vehicles and it can be more cost-effective than hiring consultants, when they need external input.
You need to change your mindset and perspective: You first need to understand the value in opening up your innovation efforts before you will start to change your mindset and perspective – and thus also your approaches to open innovation and crowdsourcing. This change process takes time and it will take even longer to change the mindset of your organization and external partners. However, there is no way around this as open innovation and crowdsourcing is not just a process, toolbox or methodology you can apply. It’s much broader than that.
Communication is critical! It used to be that when we talked about PR, promotion and marketing in the context of innovation, it was all about the innovation outcomes – the products and services being pushed by the sales and marketing teams. Not anymore. Today, it is increasingly important to also promote your corporate innovation capabilities as you aim to join the best innovation ecosystems. Just as your competitors. You need to build the perception that you are a better innovation partner than your competitors. Of course, this is not just about perception – you also need to be able to deliver on this.
On the last point, I could also have added some remarks on the importance of internal communication, but I will stop for now. Let me know what you think.