Addressing the sad state of corporate innovation

Addressing the sad state of corporate innovation

Summary: A look at vendor marketing literature shows that many tout their commitment to innovation, but at the end day, usually have nothing to show for it.  According to AMR Research, the Boston Consulting Group identified this paradox as a "serious mismatch between what companies are telling their shareholders, employees, analysts, and customers about their commitment to innovation and their real experience with it.

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TOPICS: Emerging Tech
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A look at vendor marketing literature shows that many tout their commitment to innovation, but at the end day, usually have nothing to show for it.  According to AMR Research, the Boston Consulting Group identified this paradox as a "serious mismatch between what companies are telling their shareholders, employees, analysts, and customers about their commitment to innovation and their real experience with it." 

Interestingly, survey results show that despite being unhappy with ROI in innovation, executives continue to pour money into it. Executing on innovation, it appears, is a major challenge for organizations. So much in fact, that some simply turn to outside sources in the growing trend of "innovation outsourcing" where they’re passing the buck on R&D and the development of leading edge ideas. With the mounting influence of Asia on technology innovation and the growing trend for standardized IT infrastructure, these are not exactly good signs. Organizations need to make a stronger commitment to innovation if they are to be competitive on the global playing field.

So what can they do? AMR argues the lack of ownership of the business process supporting product innovation is the culprit and needs to be dealt with head-on by assigning a dedicated leader. This can be a step in the right direction, but it takes more than treating innovation as a business process to come up with ideas that shift markets, inspire customers, and awe shareholders. IDEO and Apple come to mind; it takes the alignment of the right people, culture, technology, and timing to pull it off.  Don't know to get started? Mark Turrell, CEO of Imaginatik, lists seven key components to creating an innovation culture that can help.

With a little Googling however, examples of recent tech innovations are not hard to spot. Take the freedom that open-source software gives to developers for example. A story on LinuxInsider reports that a Linux project started by FBI officials, which grew to become the Emergency Response Network (ERN), is now deemed ready for use by large enterprises. Before the system, it took FBI agents four hours to get hold of local police chiefs. Now, the ERN system can place 10,000 calls a minute.

So the takeaway in this case may be that if your organization is migrating to open source software, cost savings may be the primary driver, but make sure you take a second look don't and pass up any opportunites for innovation along the way. 

Topic: Emerging Tech

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6 comments
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  • More like the sad state of corporate existance.

    Hey, when every goal is designed to be measured in the next quarter's statements it's not hard to see why innovation (along with everything else) is suffering.
    No_Ax_to_Grind
  • HP Invent - you got to believe this!

    I don't remember anything what HP invented? Still this phrase is everyehere. I think this is one example of corporate deception.
    Wagadonga
    • Not deception, but not far off either

      Historically, HP did actually innovate (like the audio oscillator it built in 1938), but if you look at the chronological order of the company's "innovations" you'll see a diminishing effect culminating with the <a href="http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/abouthp/histnfacts/museum/chronological/index6.html"Pavilion </a> in 2000, with nothing for the last 5 years.

      -Chris
      chris jablonski
  • Pre-Employment agreements that assign all rights...

    of any patent to the corporation, WITHOUT any additional compensation to the inventing employee, is sure to limit the flow of innovation.

    Also do you think that with all the outsourcing of jobs (and importing of guest workers) you will get employees motivated for corporate success????

    Greed get you in the end.
    redstone
    • Who paid for their time?

      So, your solution would be that if someone comes up with an earth shaking discovery while being paid by the corporation that they should just stick to the people who paid their salaries for the years that the person didn't produce something?

      When was the last time that you saw an idea that was soley one person's invention versus a team? Should the fastest one to the lawyer get the benefits when the whole team worked on it and the company financed it?

      If you don't like the agreement, don't sign (and don't get paid). Better yet, start your own business. (And have one of your employees -- that you paid, stick it to you by running off with the idea.)

      Sheesh.
      __howard__
      • Not really a good incentive though...

        I've worked at large corporations that did tons of research. It's true that if a company pays for research and fiances the research, it should get the benefit of the research. Unfortunately I don't think it's really as much of a team effort. The main idea for an invention usually comes from one person, who then does most of the work, with support from the company (at least in medicine and electronics). That person is the main focus and get the patent assigned to them, then signs it over to the company. YET where IS the incentive to come up with something that is an "Earthshaking" invention?
        Is it corporate loyalty. HELL NO! I know a chemist who kept a company at the head of it's field for decades. His reward, his job, UNTIL they "laid him off" because he was getting older: still producing, but cheaper to get newbies (short-sighted mind you). No new patents from that company since.
        Meanwhile another company gives ANYONE in the company with a good idea, patentable or not, a reward. Usually totaling 1% of any extra profits or savings, with a limit of (6 years ago) $1 mil/ year. Now THAT's an incentive.
        The company still is growing fast.

        It would be nice if people invented for the sake of progressing society, but that's not what pushes people.
        el1jones