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The Era of Open Innovation

The Era of Open Innovation

The shift from closed innovation to open innovation is the defining characteristic of this decade. Startups are able to compete with billionaires, disrupting entire industries from cheaply assembled DIY workspaces.

Even large companies like Microsoft are replacing private R&D with open source methods. All entrepreneurs, freelancers, and members of technology-focused industries should study this change.

Open Innovation is a Revolution

Many of the biggest innovations of the last few decades were built upon pre-existing infrastructure. Jeff Bezos, the founder, and CEO of Amazon, spoke about this concept at the Code Conference in 2016. He explained that the internet was only made possible by the existence of telephone lines.

As the infrastructure grows, so does the possibility for innovation. Manufacturers are already starting to build products on the newly emerging infrastructures of 3-D printing and artificial intelligence. This is exactly what open innovation is about.

How To Embrace Open Innovation

The notion of building products upon public platforms is more than a thought experiment. Companies have to adapt if they hope to survive. There are several tactics that can be used to shift towards an open innovation model.

1. Open Source

One of the simplest yet most radical options is the open source method. Open-sourcing a project refers to publicly documenting its development and accepting contributions from anybody who wants to help out. Any interested party can submit new work for consideration.

This method, though counter-intuitive, can have incredible results. The Linux operating system is just one example of a popular open source product.

2. Research

Companies should devote more time to researching new technology. If a small team is dedicated to learning about new developments in their industry on a weekly basis, they are likely to stay on the cutting edge. In this new era, the cutting edge is the safest place to be.

In the name of research, here are a few excellent books that are relevant to the open innovation era.

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
The Master Switch by Tim Wu
The Mesh by Lisa Gansky

Open innovation is here to stay. More resources are becoming cheaply available every day, and the world’s technology infrastructure is only getting better. Learning about open innovation is the best way to prepare for the future.