Reproduced from a chapter i authored in 2009 in the book “The Future of Innovation”.
The Future of Innovation will harness the creative capabilities of the entire global ecosystem. While in the short to mid-term the current economic and geo-political issues will likely dictate the global trade and how the different geographies play a role in the introduction and success of innovative products and services, the future will belong to those innovators (individuals, organizations, countries and regions) who understand and tap the virtualization benefits that involve the global trade in the flat world.
With the increase in global trade as a percentage of world GDP, lot more of traditional services and products across the agriculture, manufacturing and services industry will become potential sources of virtualization to reach, respond and reap the benefits to the producers and consumers across the world. A good chunk of these virtualizable options will act as spring source of innovative ideas that usher the world in the future.
Innovation networks will effectively tap into these opportunities by delivering results much beyond what traditional product and process innovations have often produced. They optimize the entire global ecosystems including partners, suppliers, customers, government agencies and non-governmental organizations. As the parties to the innovation process extend beyond the four walls of an enterprise, devices, approaches, revenue models, delivery channels, and profitability can be transformed in ways that no individual can achieve working alone.
Another important aspect will be that innovations may potentially destroy the traditional twentieth century supply chains (both in products and services). Emergence of new players from the outside and at times unrelated industries bringing in new business applications may potentially destruct the original paradigms and unseat the traditional players. Perhaps the economic challenges witnessed in the later part of last decade, and political changes in this decade will essentially provide this breeding ground though the possibility of tougher government interventions and rules may scare the new entrants and hinder them in the short term.
The future of innovation will not only involve traditional engineering and marketing disciplines, but increasingly will call for better negotiators with cross-functional visibility. The organizational locus will change from traditional R&D and lines of business to more of an extra-enterprise as the ecosystems drive the new business models. Innovation of future will not only be measured simply in terms of patents and new product launches but more importantly by the market growth and the relationship capital notwithstanding the fact that protection and respect of the intellectual property will become an important theme.
The future of innovative networks tap into much richer idea pool of an extended enterprise than of today’s traditional boundaries, and ensures risk reduction with global partnerships tapping and relying on each players strengths. The future will see a sea change in the knowledge management by ensuring it focuses on building insights which are converted into an innovative idea pool. It will employ social networking and crowd sourcing to tap into larger creative capital. Innovations will take place where rubber meets the road bringing in the new ways of forging partnerships and value creation in the new flat world.