You often find people misusing the word innovation when in fact they mean invention. Innovations are actually the commercialization of inventions, or the appliance of science as one manufacturer use the college. Here, I’ll show you how creativity and innovation management are completely dependent on cutting-edge/bleeding edge technologies as the lifeblood of tomorrow’s must-have products.
The True Definition of Innovative
Innovation is everywhere and drives the development of the modern world around you. If it is everywhere, what does innovative mean? Comfort, efficiency, technology, productivity, modernity, and progress are all terms that could be used to describe the art of innovation.
The definition of innovation is in fact the act or process of introducing something new (in product form) that makes use of a new way of doing things. This definition of innovation could be interpreted to mean many things for people in many different ways though.
I explained previously how to patent ideas or products and you have to realize that this is simply step one of being innovative. Being truly innovative means taking that invention/patent/idea and giving it a commercial application.
Critically though, innovation can be incremental improvement on existing technologies. It doesn’t always have to be about reinventing the wheel. Many great quotes on innovation focus on the truly disruptive types of new inventions that you’ll find that even innovative products such as the iPod and iPhone have incrementally built upon pre-existing technologies (such as touchscreens, solid-state hard drives, etc.).
When meeting the challenges of disruptive innovation it becomes critical to understand the effective lifespan of any innovative product design, from invention through commercialization, incremental improvements and finally to its ultimate demise. After all, today’s products are tomorrow’s antiques as each new wave of technological trends makes yesterday’s electronics thing of the past.
Mastering the Art of Innovation
You’ll find that some people will approach innovation as a tool to improve upon something that does not function as well as it could. Others may look for completely new solutions to situations that have yet been addressed. A new emerging technology may come along that will satisfy this type of demand for you and your customers. Moreover, innovative companies are often defined by the composition of their business model canvas and the new and creative ways in which their business model pieces together customer needs, capabilities, suppliers, finance, etc.
The art of innovation is rooted pragmatism. This is a way for you to look into the future and finding solutions to demands that can only be anticipated based on the direction of the present. Another approach is to guide the direction of the present to some future destination. This second approach is what the most innovative companies are doing such as Apple and 3M (e.g. the development of iTunes has renovated.
My article on innovation and entrepreneurship delves deeper into the subject of how young startup companies are often the most innovative out of complete necessity. The small startup have to take bigger risks with emerging technology which often results in more groundbreaking applications of scientific breakthroughs.
Step one is the fuzzy front-end
This process begins with what is called the fuzzy front end. This is the time when new ideas are being created that may have a functional value for a new or existing product. This brainstorming period is the birthplace for innovation. This requires a great deal of foresight and creativity to be successful.
When the question is asked, what does innovative mean? This is actually the answer – the art of innovation is bringing these new fuzzy front end ideas to life in a meaningful way that consumers can enjoy. Many disparate ideas are bounced around and tested often prototypes before new product designs starts to take form and shape.
Then proceed along the S-curve
A new emerging technology is likely to follow an S-shaped curve pattern. This represents the slow start-up initiative that produces limited growth during the research and development phase of a project. You’ll find that many companies then rush to get a new product launch out as quickly as possible. Being first to market often pays off big time even if what you are offering is still only in beta mode (e.g. Google’s Gmail).
Once your project or product is fully developed and functioning properly, it can experience a period of rapid growth as it becomes a staple in the market. On the S-curve, this represents a period of time when sales rapidly start to increase as marketplace acceptance grows stronger. It is also a time when competitors are rushing to catch up and often duplicate, copy or imitate the key benefits of your product.
This period of steady growth will be followed by a leveling off trend with your product or projects usefulness becomes obsolete or out-of-date. This represents the top of the S-shaped curve and will signify the end of your projects life-cycle.
Perhaps an example will help verify this and know better modern example than to choose if the modern smart phones. These are an essential part of modern life which where only used by the very rich two decades ago.
Presenting an Emerging Technology That Point Towards Future Trends: Smart Phones!
One of the greatest examples of innovation in recent years is the introduction of smart phones. These devices have revolutionized the way people communicate, gather, and share information. In an age when information is king, the most innovation companies are designing devices that improve the way consumers gain access to information.
Every day companies are seeking out innovative ideas for business users and home users of smart phones to identify those features customers find desirable. For some, it’s cameras. For others, it’s task managers, calendars and reminders. The advent of apps (i.e. mobile phone applications) has completely open this up. Now all you need is a smart phone that supports the software applications infrastructure and you can allow other developers to create and profit from new software programs.
They are also creating new ways for information to be shared. Smart phones are able to be incorporated into every aspect of life and connected to any source of information. This is true innovation as the emerging technology has resulted in new ways of doing business and living our lives.
And even smart phones experience ongoing technological innovations
This connect-ability driven by innovation has spurred further growth and development of new technologies that would not have been possible in the past. By shrinking the size of electronics and increasing the power of these devices, companies are able to eliminate the need to own and maintain several devices.
The smart phone has become the natural combination of handheld media players, cellular phone, internet portals, GPS locators, photo albums, cameras, video cameras, daily planners, and so much more.
Innovation has condensed the need to carry the eight products listed above to a single device. This is what innovation is all about. Improving one product or creating something new that replaces and potentially eliminates something else that has only limited function.
To return to the S-shaped curve, mobile phones are really in the early phases of growth on the S-curve whereas devices such as address books, single-purpose portable cameras, electronic planners and even GPS systems are approaching a tipping point. This is a tipping point where their evolution has reached the height of its maturity and companies will cease to further develop many of their products in preference for the new popular smart phones.
This is also a glowing example of how emerging technologies are changing the way people live. From the pager to the smartphone, technology has evolved as the result of innovative steps and transitional devices that bring the modern world to where it is now.
Just remember: Ever changing, always improving, and building upon what has come before is the process of innovation in technology. The seeds of destruction and redundancy into products on design always results in that passing maturity and being replaced by better-performing and more useful replacements.
This is a constant that will continue with the future generation of improved and new devices that encompass and surpass the capabilities of what is currently available. Your future is waiting to be designed and what results will always have to answer the question “what does innovative mean for applying emerging technologies?”