Academic journal article Research-Technology Management

Peering into the Future of Innovation Management: As the World Changes, Innovation Professionals Consider What the Future Holds for Innovation and Innovation Management

Academic journal article Research-Technology Management

Peering into the Future of Innovation Management: As the World Changes, Innovation Professionals Consider What the Future Holds for Innovation and Innovation Management

Article excerpt

Today's pace of technological change is likely the slowest we will experience for the rest of our lives. From personalized medicine to autonomous vehicles, disruptive technological advancements are happening all around us, at greater breadth and speed than we've ever experienced. Take a brief look back at computers and networking in the 21st century, for example. The first decade and a half of this century has seen the rise and fall of a wide variety of new product formats. In 2000, consumers had two main computing products: the desktop computer and the laptop computer. Since then, we've witnessed the introduction of a host of new options to access digital information, including the MP3 player, e-book reader, smartphone, tablet, phablet, and most recently, wearables. While ownership rates for the two incumbent computing products has remained relatively flat in the United States, smartphone adoption has grown rapidly; as of 2015, smartphone ownership is on par with the incumbent products (71 percent of the population owns laptop or desktop computers versus 68 percent for smartphones). The uptake of social networking applications exhibits a similar rapid growth curve. In 2005, only 8 percent of Internet users were accessing social networking sites. In only 10 years, that number has exploded almost 10 times, to 76 percent in 2015 (Pew Research 2016). Similar disruption has taken place in data storage (the cloud), in transportation (Uber), and even in the way we watch movies. When was the last time you bought a DVD?

The increased pace of change is coalescing with emerging megatrends to create an environment of constant upheaval and rapidly changing market and technology contexts. Megatrends, as defined by Naisbitt (1982), are general shifts in thinking or approach affecting whole countries and industries; they are global macroeconomic forces that are impossible to reverse and that will significantly influence the future and have far-reaching implications for cultures, societies, economies, businesses, and individuals. Megatrends such as the growth in emerging markets, hyperconnectedness, and the push to do more with less are having profound impacts on the capabilities firms need to remain competitive, ranging from increased bandwidth to monitor externally, to new ways to gather insights to inform new product development, to emerging sources for business growth opportunities, to more flexible structures to organize teams to support high performance.

This chaotic environment is reshaping how firms approach innovation and, consequently, the role innovation managers play in the firm. As the range of technology options and advancements gets wider and more complex, firms are increasingly relying on both internal and external sources of innovation and inspiration to accomplish their goals. Innovation managers find themselves needing not only to more effectively manage improved processes and efficiencies in internally focused R&D efforts but also to learn effective approaches to monitor, tap into, and integrate innovative technologies from an increasingly diverse set of external sources.

Henry Chesbrough coined the term "open innovation" in the early 2000s to refer to "the use of purposive inflows and outflows of knowledge to accelerate internal innovation, and expand the markets for external use of innovation, respectively" (Chesbrough 2006, p. 1). Since that time, open innovation has become not just widely accepted but widely acknowledged as essential to build and maintain competitive advantage, especially in industries that rely heavily on technological innovation for differentiation. That reliance, in particular, is reshaping the practice of innovation management, defined for the purposes of this study as management of the systems that create a common organizational process for innovation to facilitate movement toward the organization's innovation goals, even as megatrends create upheaval in markets and drive accelerating technology life cycles. …

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