Innovation Matters

Seventy-two percent of companies worldwide will increase spending on innovation in 2006, and 41 percent will increase spending significantly, according to a recent survey of senior management conducted by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) as summarized in Innovation 2006 and Measuring Innovation 2006.

The study was based on responses from more than 1,000 senior executives from 63 countries and all major industries, so the results are statistically significant.

However, despite plans to raise spending, the study determined that nearly half of the companies are unhappy with their returns on innovation spending. According to James Andrew, Senior Vice President and report author, These findings highlight the paradox we see all the time in practice. Innovation is such an important priority for companies, and although they continue to spend ever-increasing amounts on it, half of all companies remain unsatisfied with the returns they generate. Furthermore, he also stated that This is a critical issue because the costs are even greater than most companies realize. The costs include not only the money invested, but also the opportunity cost of not generating the growth and returns from innovation that are possible and that companies need to meet the demands of the stock market.

This report highlights the need not only for innovation, but management of the innovation process. Contrary to popular belief, the process can be managed and there are techniques that can be used to jump start the process and significantly increase your chances of success.

For example, I described a couple of approaches to innovation in my Purchasing Innovation Series over at e-Sourcing Forum. If you have a clearly identified problem, a great approach is Teoriya Resheniya Izobretatelskikh Zadatch, the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving, or TRIZ for short. The foundation for invention on demand, it can be used to create completely new products to perform a given function or solve an existing function. Another methodology is crowdsourcing, the process of delegating various tasks for which you do not have the manpower or expertise from internal production to external entities or affiliations of networked persons with the expertise, access to, or raw capabilities that you require.

Building on crowdsourcing, you can take advantage of companies, research networks, and laboratories that exist primarily to help you with your innovation needs. One example is InnoCentive, an exciting web-based community matching top scientists to relevant R&D challenges facing leading companies from around the globe, can help you with your chemical, biological, and other scientific problems. Another example is YourEncore, a service provider connecting the technology and product development opportunities of member companies with world class talented individuals whose motto is People don’t retire anymore, they just go on to do other things. Yet another is NineSigma, a company that enables organizations to amplify internal resources and capabilities by tapping a global network of innovators for new solutions, technologies, products, services and opportunities.

Some of these organizations will even help you turn your product idea into a prototype. One example is Nytric, a company that exists to create revolutionary new products, using an advanced mode of thinking, spanning initial idea to market conquest; and by using a business model that shares front end risk so as to ensure a maximum mutual return on investment. Another example is Big Idea Group, an organization that brings together creative inventors and innovation-driven companies.

Furthermore, if you need just need help automating and tracking the process, you could always start with‘s On Demand Innovation Management Software, which gets you up and running immediately. Of course, this isn’t the only choice. You could also try Jenni‘s Idea Management Software, Centric Software‘s Product Intelligence software, or Imaginatik‘s Idea Central Software.

In other words, there are companies, products, and methodologies out there to help you ensure that each and every innovation effort you undertake is a success because, simply put, innovation matters.