Managing Innovation: New Technology, New Products and New Services in a Global Economy

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Lego reached an entirely new market of teachers when it allowed its customers to modify its Mindstorms software to manipulate its robotics for kids, and the teachers realized they could use the service to construct a curriculum to teach robotics to middle school students. Business leaders also need to realize that since service businesses often are people-intensive, growing one profitably will require focusing on core strengths on the one hand, while providing a wide variety of choice to customers on the other.

Focus and variety are often at odds with one another. The only way to do both profitably is to open up the business, turning it into a platform for others to work alongside or build on top of. Opening up the business to others allows companies to provide one-stop shopping to customers, while leveraging their core activities that comprise the structure of the platform. Amazon allows merchants to use its internal tools to build web pages on Amazon to offer merchandise to Amazon customers, who cannot tell whether the item they purchase is from Amazon such as books or somewhere else such as jewelry.

So Amazon focuses on its core strengths in Internet retailing, and provides a structure for many third parties to sell a wide variety of merchandise to Amazon customers, without taking on the inventory and merchandising risks of that expanded set of products. Finally, focusing on service innovation, making customers central to the process, and opening up to other companies require embracing a good deal of internal change for most companies.

This means that opening service innovation will change your business model. Open service innovation will require companies to charge customers in new ways, use different mechanisms for payment, and perhaps find additional revenue streams to support the business. Opening up to outsiders will often require sharing financial risks and rewards with them.

Companies that undertake services innovation are learning to tackle these challenges. Its services business is also growing rapidly, accounting for more than 25 percent of its sales. Innovation is constantly changing, as is the process by which new ideas and technologies get to market. Companies who rest on their laurels may do well for the moment, but it is safe to bet that the innovation process is changing, whether the company realizes it or not.

The best approach is to embrace the idea that innovation will continue to change, and that organizations that seek to profit from innovation must take on the challenge of changing with it. All rights reserved.

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  8. Keenan, Frederick J. These modifications are then marketed heavily to doctors, and few genuinely novel drugs are emerging Light and Lexchin, The techniques of industrialised murder of Jews and others in the Nazi Germany of the s, although innovative, cannot be seen other than as one of the most disturbing episodes of human history. Although this is perhaps the most extreme illustration of innovation creating immense harm and no benefit , there are others where the negative consequences turn out to be world changing and not necessarily obvious initially.

    Managing Innovation in a Global and Digital World |

    For example, in the early s some economists and financial commentators e. Plender, began to express concern that innovation in financial instruments such as derivatives was diminishing and this would have negative consequences for the efficiency with which capital could be deployed.

    Ultimately, then, the financial innovations that had so dominated the growth of the financial sector in London and elsewhere following widespread deregulation of the industry in the s turned out to have catastrophic consequences for the stability of the global financial markets and the economies of many countries more generally. There are many others. This recognition that innovations can turn out to have negative as well as positive outcomes, or that the benefits and costs are spread differentially among groups in society, gave birth to the field of technology assessment TA which emerged in the s.

    We have not included this section because we are arguing that innovation is dangerous or worthless. We would not be writing the course if we thought that!

    Rather — and as we noted previously — we want to encourage a critical approach to some of the claims that are so frequently made on behalf of inventions and innovations. Often these claims will come from people and organisations with vested interests in promoting a particular product or way of doing things. They also come from politicians who are trying to persuade us that technological innovation is the path to future prosperity.

    Our overarching point is this: The study of innovation suggests that although we benefit greatly from many innovations, many others which appear important will fall by the wayside and some innovations will even prove to cause serious problems.



    The trajectory of any particular innovation may thus be complex and unpredictable. The organisational forms we are creating may in some circumstances turn out to inhibit, rather than promote, genuine innovation. It may even be, as Gordon has argued, that innovation may not be enough to power the kind of economic growth that we have become used to and which policy-makers are working hard to try to recapture, in the West at least.

    Ultimately, therefore, our purpose in raising these critiques here is to encourage a more critical understanding of debates around technological innovation. In this section we provide a brief overview of some of the themes and aspects of innovation that have historically attracted — and continue to attract — attention and debate. Within the broad field of innovation, there are several recurring themes and concerns, some of which — eco-innovation, open innovation, technology transfer — will be addressed later in the course.

    Here we briefly introduce some of these themes to give a sense of the contemporary innovation research landscape. Some terms may be disputed, and the same, or very similar, phenomena can be described in different ways. Some writers are very precise in their terminology as they try to clarify what they see as important differences in the world. The ways in which terms are used may change over time.

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    4. This inconsistency in language reflects an inherently complex and multifaceted phenomenon, with features that are open to debate among researchers and practitioners. There are two reasons for exploring this further here, however. First, it provides you with further insights into the ways in which innovation may be viewed as you work your way through this course and read more widely on innovation.

      Secondly, distinction between various types and aspects of innovation are important because they often reflect differences in the practices needed to encourage and sustain innovation. We also highlight some aspects of innovation for example, social innovation and frugal innovation that have emerged more recently as being significant. Taken together this material should therefore further supplement your ability to critically evaluate subject matter about and related to innovation and innovation management.

      In terms of economic and social consequences, every innovation is not equal. Some innovations have far-reaching, even world-changing, consequences. For example, innovations like flaking flint to make knives and axes, double entry book-keeping, heavier-than-air flight and the World Wide Web have all been associated with deep changes to the way we live.

      Most innovations, however, are more modest and represent largely incremental improvements to existing ways of doing things. Some inventions remain unexploited, never to become innovations. The terms used to describe different types or degrees of innovation are somewhat imprecise. Landmark innovations are very few and rare.

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      For example, it has been argued that the discovery of the antibiotics penicillin and streptomycin in and , respectively, represented the landmark innovation of the domestication of micro-organisms and is as significant as the domestication of wild animals Kingston, We might argue, though, that the domestication of micro-organisms took place rather longer ago than this, as for example in alcoholic fermentation, cultures for yogurt and yeast in bread. Norman and Verganti nicely characterise the difference between incremental and radical innovation, in the context of human-centred design of information and communication technology.

      Routine incremental design is analogous to a blindfolded person finding their way up a hill by feeling which direction would take them to a higher point than the one they are currently on. The top of a hill is reached when every direction is lower than the current point. The problem is, however, that the blindfolded person can never tell whether the peak they have reached is actually the highest point in the landscape. Norman and Verganti argue that different techniques are needed to identify new hills. This underlines the importance of the distinction between incremental and radical innovation from our point of view in this course; the way in which incremental and radical innovation need to be managed are different.

      As noted earlier, understanding the various types of innovation is complicated by its dependence on perspective. They illustrate the distinction between a room fan and its components, which include the blade, the motor, the housing and so on. Viewed this way, innovations might be at the level of individual components, or in the relationship between components.

      This helps us to distinguish not whether an innovation is absolutely radical, but whether it is radical in this particular setting.