The Future Of Innovation ... Accessing Future Innovation Talent In A Flat World

Mr Tim Jones

As globalisation finally starts to make the innovation world a flatter one, connectivity to the key sources of innovation - anytime, anywhere, anyhow and any-who – is driving new perspectives about accessing and recruiting the leading talent. This presents both opportunities and challenges:

With rising innovation spending should companies build more internal innovation capabilities or should they look to better exploit others’ investments? Equally should they be proactive in predicting new hotspots and act early to establish key relationships or sit back and be a fast follower?

While outside-in and inside-out open innovation have been challenging to some, as we move to open business model innovation, complexity increases significantly: In particular, the shift from technology transfer to know-how transfer will raise key questions such as how will companies manage and value knowledge transfer as the limitations of IP systems become apparent? As firms release their proprietary hold on knowledge, how will sharing it be monetised? So, how should companies balance the need for gaining prowess in conventional open innovation vs. shifting to the new world of knowledge transfer ahead of their peers?

Most companies see that, to be the exemplar innovation company that they aspire to be, they will need to manage globally dispersed networks of talent drawn from a plethora of individuals and companies, and manage these on a project by project basis. Attracting internal and external innovation talent is already being recognised as a top priority for many US organisations struggling to find the right resource: When you fold in the future role of India and China, the global marketplace for the leading talent is becoming flatter: By 2012 outsourced R&D in India will account for $20bn and programmes involving research is forecast to rise from 10% today to 30%: In China, the future shift is even greater. By 2015 cost issues will be irrelevant and by 2020 as much research will be taking place in China as in the US.

These are catalysts for a shift towards truly ‘flat world’ innovation. The best future talent will be free to choose what projects they work on, for which companies they like. As free agents become the norm, the innovation expertise that companies need to bring into the fold will reside in a more fluid market.

If you are going to attract the leading talent are you going to access global talent locally or are you going to rely on the network effect bringing the talent to you? And, in such context, how will you engage with the best on a basis of reputation?

The authors of ‘Funky Business’, identified a challenge that ‘organisations worth working for’ have to attract the ‘people worth employing’. In the emerging world where innovation talent is global, fluid and attracted by the challenge and the reputation more than the pay-check, this is needs a tweak: Innovation winners in the next decade will be the ‘organisations worth working with’ who will in turn need to attract the ‘people worth accessing’.

Article © 2009 Mr Tim Jones. All rights reserved.

about the author...

Mr Tim Jones

Mr Tim Jones

affiliation:   Innovaro

position:  Director

country:  United Kingdom

area of interest:  Innovation Strategy / Future Growth

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other books and writings by

Mr Tim Jones

Innovating at the Edge

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Managing Intellectual Property

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Innovation Leaders

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