The Future Of Innovation - A Quest For A (r)evolution In Innovation

Professor dr. Ing. Han T.M. van der Zee

Many companies experience the increasing impact of several changes in their business environments, which influence the way they plan and organise their business innovations. Especially the current economic climate tend to hamper bright ideas to be conceptualized, designed and executed as envisaged during better and more certain economic times. However, Innovation, that is generating knowledge and transforming it into new products, processes and services that meet (potential) market and customer needs, should continue to be the realm of future thinking, entrepreneurial managers. The alternative is just to slowly die and fade away. Unfortunately, future thinking, entrepreneurial managers don’t hit upon much enthusiasm and eagerness with their peer (financial, operational) managers, to say the least. This implies that future oriented entrepreneurial managers must become the coordinators and orchestrators of virtual and flexible networks of knowledge-generating entities beyond the traditional organisational borders, which will enable them to develop highly customized solutions and experiences for and with their customers.

During recent years, many companies’ business environments have witnessed a number of structural developments. Together these have lead, and increasingly will continue to lead to an increasing demand for new thinking and practice. Four of them stand out in that they have and will have the largest impact on innovation concepts. These are industrial convergence, globalization, value migration and the increased focus on individual consumer needs.

An increased focus on individual consumer needs – To bind consumers’ attention and satisfy their ‘individual’ needs, companies must increasingly offer ‘experiences’ or ‘solutions’ rather than just products or services. In order to identify such desires accurately, companies need to directly involve end consumers and customers in their innovation processes. Furthermore, providing suitable innovations and offering ‘solutions’ requires exponentially increased competences, which are preferably not all sourced internally.

Industrial convergence – Industrial convergence, too, requires an increasing understanding of other industries. Technological developments force companies in the electronics, media, software, broadcasting, telecommunications, games, entertainment and education industries, for example, to rethink their markets radically. They are challenged to forge new alliances in order to generate new, converged products and solutions. Consequently, the scope of their innovation activities must span an increasingly wider array of industries and competences.

Value migration – Whereas the traditional economy concentrated on manufacturing and assembling as the source of value, the information economy that is now dominant is rather more knowledge-based. Today’s productivity improvements are made possible by applying knowledge. Therefore real added value increasingly comes from R&D as well as marketing and sales activities. This development towards knowledge-intensive activities means that innovating organisations must take another step in the field of knowledge management, in order to sustain the knowledge already generated, expand their sources of innovation and establish learning organisations with respect to the wide variety of knowledge items companies must have access to.

Globalization – Increased globalization forces and enables companies to get closer to their customers, suppliers, knowledge networks and manufacturers. The results are enhanced efficiency, increased access to resources and competences, cost reduction and true round-the-clock R&D operations, managed as global networks.

When business environments change significantly, like in today’s economic downturn, innovative organisations are forced to change accordingly if their companies are to remain competitive. This implies that a new spectrum of business drivers and value-adding activities enters the innovation scope. It seems inevitable that the structural developments discussed above will have a significant impact on the way innovation is organised and structured in eco-system like networks of contributors of many forms, types and makes. The question for forward thinking, entrepreneurial managers is, then, how companies’ current innovation processes and functions can best be structured to meet these new requirements. It’s obvious that “open” will prove to be the keyword in this challenging, cut-throat innovation arena.

Article © 2009 Professor dr. Ing. Han T.M. van der Zee. All rights reserved.

about the author...

Professor dr. Ing.  Han T.M.  van der Zee

Professor dr. Ing. Han T.M. van der Zee

affiliation:   Atos Consulting Trends Institute

position:  executive partner

country:  Netherlands

area of interest:  Business¬†Transformation & Information Technology

contact author

other books and writings by

Professor dr. Ing. Han T.M. van der Zee

Measuring the Value of Information Technology

link to buy book

Op weg naar een innovatieve overheid

link to buy book

Bridging the Paradox, Creating IT partnerships in the financial sector

link to buy book

Architectuur als managementinstrument

link to buy book

Strategies for E-partnering, Moving brick-and-mortar online

link to buy book

keywords for “The Future Of Innovation - A Quest For A (r)evolution In Innovation”