Taking the Fast Lane With Open InnovationBy Guest Author | Posted 2015-03-26 Print
With Open Innovation, companies partner with players in a global ecosystem to jointly develop new platforms and apps, enhance offerings or move into new markets.
By Jitendra Kavathekar
There’s more pressure than ever for organizations to leverage new technology to provide customers with better products and services, more relevant information, and personalized and seamless experiences. As such, many large organizations are struggling to compete against a new league of agile digital innovators that can rapidly move from ideation to deployment.
The ever-lower barriers to entry for startups are leaving enterprises working harder to maintain their market position. For instance, California-based AirBnB, founded in 2008, is already one of the world's largest hoteliers. And Chinese mobile phone firm Xiaomi has become the third biggest distributor of smartphones after only five years in operation.
Open Innovation is helping leading enterprises address this challenge. In this model, organizations leverage external technology, solutions, and knowledge capital from startups, universities and other research organizations early in their innovation processes.
With Open Innovation, organizations partner with a range of players in a global ecosystem to jointly develop new platforms and applications, enhance core offerings or expand into new markets. The concept allows enterprises to bring in new ideas more quickly and frequently to enhance their operations.
In addition to speed gains, there is a strong financial benefit. Rather than using their own budgets for research and development, enterprises can take on the ideas already invested in by startups and their venture capitalist backers. Then, they can integrate the ideas in an accelerated way.
Leading companies around the world are already taking this approach. They realize that bringing in new ideas from small businesses is much smarter than fighting them. They understand that the value of collaboration exceeds the threats of sharing information.
The Accenture Technology Vision 2015 refers to this broader emerging trend as the “We Economy.” Leading organizations see great potential to make a difference—and a profit—by operating as ecosystems, not just as individual corporate entities.
For example, the California-based creators of the high-growth productivity app Evernote are working with independent office designer Eric Pfeiffer to take advantage of broader opportunities for creating popular stationery and tablet holders. Meanwhile Grupo Globo, the largest media group in Latin America, has shifted its mindset to work with startups, bring in the latest technology, and identify new systems and market trends.
Two or more large companies can also collaborate on innovation. An example of this is an alliance formed by Philips and Salesforce.com to create clinical applications that are available through an open cloud-based digital health platform.
Making Open Innovation Work
Naturally, any new method of operation requires careful planning. Cultural differences, technological risks, security concerns and the inability to scale can hinder organizations from realizing its full potential. Open Innovation is a major undertaking but, done right, it has the potential to lead to success and disruption.
Collaborating and innovating with “bridge-makers” who act as the gateway to the internal and external innovation ecosystem can help organizations fully realize the benefits of Open Innovation. Bridge-makers enable large businesses to identify and work closely with the right organizations, helping them to efficiently tackle their specific goals. Experienced bridge-makers bring real knowledge of the startup, entrepreneur and university community, and have the ability to get companies working together successfully.
With bridge-makers, businesses can be certain that the proper methodology is in place, ensuring safe and effective execution. Working systematically with a broad ecosystem, companies can mine ideas to fuel their research agenda, identify trends that shape strategy and road maps, develop new products and solutions, and explore new markets. In each case, a bridge-maker can serve as a critical facilitator between the players.
Organizations that are looking to grow by using Open Innovation and working with an effective bridge-maker can consistently partner with multiple external firms—drawing from the pool of extensive knowledge and execution skills to create powerful new products and services. When a business systematically collaborates with that much talent, the growth potential is enormous.
Jitendra Kavathekar is the managing director for Open Innovation at Accenture. He leads an entrepreneurial team that engages in ecosystems of innovation globally.
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