What Are Innovation Solutions?
What Are Innovation Solutions?
The best solutions tend to be a combination of technology and services.
While we tend to think of innovation in terms of new technology, solutions can also come in the form of new types of services that offer improvements on old ways of doing things, meet previously unidentified needs or fill gaps in the market. More often, innovation solutions use technology to support and dispatch new services so that the best solutions tend to be a combination of technology and services. For example, at its heart, ride sharing is a service, but it also heralded in the use of new technology to make the services available and viable. The service of sharing a ride wouldn’t be possible without the supporting technology, including smartphone apps, mobile payments and GPS locators.
Innovation solutions can also be particular to the innovation industry, which is tasked with partnering with companies to create a culture of innovation and help develop meaningful innovations. In this case, the term can refer to a whole suite of tools that are used to drive innovation within companies. Innovation solutions used to drive internal innovation can range from consulting services to software automation that allows teams to advance, scout, discover and accelerate innovation.
What are Innovation Solutions?
The Future of Innovation
At this point in history, we are in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and it is becoming increasingly clear that industries that have been historically viewed as safe and immovable are just as vulnerable to disruptive technology and solutions. However, companies aren’t entirely sure how to handle these changes and build innovation into the business structure. Organized innovation within a business is still a new practice that some Fortune 500 companies are still struggling to successfully implement.
While the numbers vary, about 65% of major corporations are working to incorporate innovation into the business and include it at the executive level. These efforts have seen new seats opening up at executive boards for Chief Innovation Officers, Chief Innovation Architect and other similar titles. New leadership is overseeing the development of innovation departments and working to make innovation a priority on par with other daily tasks. While this is certainly a step in the right direction, companies haven’t necessarily effectively executed new plans well.
Part of the problem has to do with self-perception. Executives tend to view themselves as not only open to innovation, but as innovation leaders. According to a recent survey from Ernst & Young LLP, about 90% of executives think that their company provides clear channels for innovation and that new ideas are encouraged and celebrated. However, only 55% of entry-level employees feel the same way. Clearly, employees and executives aren’t on the same page when it comes to innovation.
Another challenge to effectively integrating innovation into businesses is that innovation executive positions aren’t clearly defined. These roles don’t come with the same set of clear responsibilities and goals as other traditional C-board spots. In some cases, it is up to the executive to negotiate and redefine their position on a daily basis as circumstances and demands evolve.
Fortune 500 companies that continue to struggle with utilizing innovation solutions and moving forward in an environment ruled by disruptive competitors will be left behind. By 2025, the Fortune 500 list will barely be recognizable with about 55% of companies losing their spot on this list of elite companies. Ultimately, a full 86% of executives recognize that innovation is a very important part of their growth and survival, only 19% believe that they are successfully using any of the required components of innovation.
This disconnect between the realization that decisive steps must be taken and the actual execution of innovation strategies is exactly where innovation solutions come into play. Taking advantage of innovation solutions means investing in and committing to a full innovation life cycle. This includes engaging the right people, creating new strategies for automation and performance measurement, evaluating ideas and executing the best ideas in a way that reduces the time to market.
How are Innovation Solutions Utilized in Business?
As you begin to consider organizing and reorganizing your business structure to accommodate an innovation strategy, innovation solutions will serve as invaluable tools. This wide-ranging suite of solutions is essential to helping your business create a customized structure and processes that will effectively drive innovation. Without putting innovation solutions in place, businesses will continue to talk innovation without effectively executing viable plans.
Keep reading for a list of innovation solutions and information on how that can be used.
Innovation consulting services can include:
- Providing expert consulting services to determine what type of innovation structure would work best within each business entity. Recommendations are based on prior experience along with a detail analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of each company.
- Consulting on setting up a new structure that fully integrates innovation and makes it a priority.
- Consulting to create the rollout strategy and plan. It can take time and effort to change ways of thinking and doing, especially when employees don’t feel safe sharing new ideas. Rolling out the strategy can be a pivotal time and success can hinge on the right strategy.
- Consulting to create an open innovation structure. Traditionally, companies were tight-lipped about their innovation projects, but the information age has popularized open innovation. Under this model, companies are transparent about their technology and open it to outside sources for input. This approach encourages global collaboration and thought diversity, which can accelerate innovation.
- Continued coaching. Even if a new innovation structure and strategy is successfully implemented and continues to produce results, ongoing coaching can help companies adapt as new challenges arise. Staying aware and agile can ensure that innovation is a continued process and not a one-off project.
- Consulting to scout for technology solutions and running innovation challenges. Coaching can help companies learn how and where to look for emerging technology solutions. Big data can help reveal trends, identify who is working on what and help connect companies with startups and innovators across the globe. Companies can also learn how to capitalize on internal teams and conduct innovation challenges that encourage engagement and provide a clear system for submitting and evaluating ideas.
- And much more! Innovation solutions that include consultation services can vary widely and be completely customized to fit the needs of each individual company. A personalized approach provides the opportunity to build on weaknesses and take full advantage of existing strengths.
Software technology and automation can include:
- Innovation challenge and idea management platforms. By providing a user-friendly portal for both internal and external collaborators to submit ideas, the innovation process can be automated and ideas can be moved to market faster. This approach also increases engagement and reinforces a culture of innovation. Innovation challenges are another valuable tool within the software that use competition to fuel participation. These software tools can be customized so each project is measured against specific, pre-determined criteria and fully for a personalized platform.
- Idea review and advancement tools. These tools and features can help add a level of automation to the evaluation process. Ideas can be measured against criteria, scored and advanced through the ideation process at a faster rate.
- Collaboration software. As more businesses turn to open innovation, collaboration software becomes increasingly important. The right software can help bridge gaps and allow people from all over the world to effectively communicate about projects and find innovative solutions.
- Technology landscaping and scouting software. Technology landscaping allows users to gain a better understanding of the current market in order to anticipate trends and prepare for the future. These tools take a close look at direct competition, analysis information on patents, grants and trademarks and provide insight into research and development for a comprehensive view of existing markets.
- Project planning software. Innovation solutions use software to organize and manage projects for better efficiency and outcomes.
- Technology scouting services. The right technology scouting tools help businesses identify emerging technology and find ways to incorporate it into the business. This makes it easier to acquire the latest technology at just the right moment.
- Mining big data technology to report on a specific technology or product space. With so much information available, the biggest challenge can be sorting through it all and finding the most important details. Fortunately, big data technology can make all that possible. Businesses can digest and utilize vast amounts of information, allowing them to have an accurate, real-time view of markets, technology and particular product spaces.
- Scouting for technology solutions. Users can connect with a solver, expert, start up, discover new patents or get up to date on what is happening in academia and research labs.
- Technology matchmaking services. Software can be used to better understand a business technology need and match them up with a solution. A variety of approaches can be used to identify potential partners and users can be matched with subject matter experts (SMEs), build a crowdsourced community of experts, etc.
Why Do Businesses Need to Use Innovation Solutions?
Technology is driving innovation across all industries. Even industries that were once considered unshakeable, such as the financial sector and insurance, are being up ended by solutions that use technology to provide new services. As advances are made, competition increases and consumer expectations change; They feel more empowered than ever to demand better products and services from companies. This has created a climate where innovation isn’t an option. It must be prioritized and systematically pursued in order to ensure the that companies can keep their doors open.
Innovative solutions support companies in their pursuit of innovation by allowing them to reorganize their innovation structure, create a more cutting-edge approach and build a culture of innovation. In the past, innovation has been contained within the research and development departments, but it now goes beyond these limitations and seeks to take advantage of both internal and external resources.
Companies that have been built using an insular approach that relies on a hierarchical system will need to rethink how they do business. Bureaucratic red tape and rigid departments that stick to their own offices only get in the way of innovation. It isn’t enough to simply stay relevant while the competition continues to advance by leaps and bounds. That is exactly why innovation solutions play such an important role across every industry.
Even the biggest companies will not have the manpower necessary to achieve ongoing innovation within their own walls. They will have to use innovation solutions to find the right startup partners, locate emerging technology, recognize trends and much more. Fortunately, innovation solutions are scalable and flexible enough that even small businesses can afford to use these tools and reap the rewards.
Demonstrating an understanding of innovation solutions and incorporating them into the business structure also helps to attract top talent. Employees want to know that they are working for a company that is concerned about not only creating a sustainable model but leading the industry through innovative ideas. Creating a culture of innovation welcomes employees to explore ideas without fear of failure, which leads to happier more productive employees who feel invested in the success of the company. Top candidates want to know that they are going to a company where they will be appreciated, and innovation is a priority.
Ultimately, innovation solutions can come in the form of consulting and software services that help companies innovate and identify new technologies, better understand current market conditions, find partners that will help accelerate innovation and much more. These tools utilize big data, collaboration, communication and automation technology to give companies the solutions they need to move forward confidently in a competitive environment. As technology continues to advance and competition increases, innovation solutions will become more familiar and widespread.
“Essentially, crowdsourcing software makes it easy for companies to participate in crowdsourcing and create a culture of innovation that drives progress.”
Chief Marketing Officer, Ezassi