Open innovation is actually quite a misnomer. It does not refer to openness in business to experiment and test the boundaries of the conventional business models. Rather, open innovation is more about an attitude of sharing information, knowledge, or culture. It is an attitude of sharing and knowledge, which is much more radical than the conventional thinking on open innovation.
Inventors are generally secretive about their inventions until the product is released into the open market. They then take steps to establish a patent for their creation so that others cannot infringe it. That is not really innovation because they have not really created anything new. It is simply a re-branding of what already exists in the marketplace. This is what we call a “de-engineering” process.
This does not mean that open innovation does not work. Patent law was written with open innovation in mind. It just means that it requires a different approach to innovation compared to the conventional patenting process.
Open Innovation Strategy
An open innovation strategy is important because innovation works best when it is allowed to occur naturally. Natural innovation occurs through competition and collaboration. In fact, innovation labs at the university are often small and operate for a singular purpose. It is the collaborative nature of these operations that have made them successful. Small teams can solve problems, develop new products or services, or collaborate on projects.
A successful open innovation strategy will allow the natural evolution of a new product or technology. It will allow for multiple stakeholders to participate in the process of innovation and build upon one another. That allows for multiple innovations to occur rather than one at a time. It also allows for multiple testing stages, multiple proofs of concept, and multiple regulatory approvals before a new product or technology can be brought to market. All of this builds on the strength and credibility of the product or technology and builds long-term value.
The problem with most large R&D departments is that they are usually built around one particular area. It may be chemical engineering, materials science, or industrial design. To make an open innovation strategy work, you need to have multiple teams working in multiple verticals. Each team should have someone who is an expert in a specific vertical.
Inventions will happen in any business, no matter what size. Innovation programs are usually great, but they need to be well-targeted and designed to work in the real world. Traditional R&D approaches may not always be able to achieve the goals that companies want to reach. However, if an organization has a good open innovation strategy, it is more likely to succeed. The best approach is to think about how to apply the same innovation to multiple verticals and technologies.
One way to apply an open innovation strategy is through the creation of product portfolios. A product portfolio is simply a list of products or technologies that could be applied in different ways. For example, instead of looking at solar panels as a solar heating system, you could look at them as lighting and incorporate the same into your building. If an organization has an open innovation strategy, it can take what it is working on and adapt it for multiple applications in multiple verticals. This can help them reach their goals and be more effective in their marketplace.
Another way to apply an open innovation strategy is through the implementation of disruptive innovation programs. Disruptive innovation is simply a new and different way of doing things. This can include completely changing a product’s functionality. For example, by taking an idea for a computer chip and changing it into something that could be used for lighting, there would be some appeal.
Many organizations need to consider applying an open innovation strategy if they want to be successful in the marketplace. Even smaller organizations can do well when they take the time to consider what will work and what isn’t careful. In some cases, this might mean spending some time talking to customers, visiting industry events, and attending conferences to see what is out there. Once this occurs, they should start developing strategies to implement the ideas. Once they have a good idea of applying an open innovation strategy, they can start to take new and innovative ideas and develop new ones.
The goal of open innovation is for new products or services to come to the consumer sooner rather than later. Consumers will love being first, which gives them a competitive advantage to be successful though it needs to be coupled with development. If no development is done, then it can quickly become outdated. By combining innovation with development, the risk of being left behind is greatly reduced. While there are many examples of open innovation strategies in place today, such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, and others, innovators need to continue to be innovative to maintain their current lead in the marketplace.
The Good and Bad Impacts of Open Innovation Strategies
Like a revolutionary virus, open innovation can potentially destroy existing industries and inhibit the growth of new ones. To protect yourself from the perils of open innovation, you need to understand the potential pitfalls and risks involved. By embracing open innovation and robustly defending your intellectual property rights, you can ensure that innovation never harms your business. However, you can also overrule any harmful consequences by taking aggressive steps to protect your new industries from harm.
Some of the risks associated with open innovation are more severe than others. For example, if you fail to apply the innovation strategy during the development phase of your product or service, you could end up spending a lot of money and time defending a newly developed product or technology from the competition.
Further, if you fail to implement appropriate open innovation strategies, your original idea may find itself diluted out of the public domain. Regardless of the severity of the risk, it’s important to consider the overall advantages of an open innovation strategy before investing your company’s resources in new technologies.
On the other hand, open innovation can provide significant benefits to your business. Perhaps the most immediate benefit is the possibility of wider distribution without the additional cost of licensing. If your product is truly revolutionary, or if consumers will benefit significantly from your product, you might find that the expense of an open innovation strategy makes it worth the risk. Also, open innovation can spur competition, which means that you can improve upon your products while your competitors struggle to keep up. This, in turn, often leads to lower prices for consumers.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of open innovation is that it fosters creativity. This is why so many businesses, both large and small, are trying to open new industries that focus on innovation. Innovation creates new potential markets, as well as new employment opportunities. By fostering creativity in the face of limited opportunities, you can help your company establish itself as an innovator. You can position your business as the clear leader in the new technologies that emerge from these new markets.
Even if open innovation is beneficial, there are sometimes concerns about the impact of allowing too much freedom. You don’t want to risk cutting your customers off from innovations or allowing your competitors to steal your ideas. However, you shouldn’t worry about protecting your inventions as much as you should worry about protecting your customers. If you have a good open innovation strategy, you can create a protective shield that will allow you to make innovations that meet the needs of your customer while still presenting something new and better than anything your competitors have been making.
Some questions arise when you consider the impact of an open innovation strategy. Can you patent an idea? If you can, is it worthwhile for your company to do so?
While open innovation strategies can be beneficial to all parties involved, they may not always work as well as you might hope. For example, it’s always important to be careful about patenting your ideas. If you don’t protect yourself adequately, you could find that your competitors an edge on you by taking advantage of your innovation. You’ll need to talk with legal counsel before deciding whether or not you have the right to patent innovation.