Open Innovation The Way Forward

by Anup Sahoo, Founder, Ideapoke    Jun 10, 2016


“Innovation distinguishes a leader from all his followers” - Steve Jobs 

Today, to survive in the global marketplace, business entities are moving beyond organisation’s boundaries to source ideas, technologies and solutions.  An idea can come from anyone and anywhere in today’s world of widely dispersed knowledge.  Globally, companies are no longer focussing on conducting their own research and development, but increased interest is there towards collaborating with other like-minded organisations to share knowledge for delivering results.  Such steps taken by companies will certainly avoid overlapping of ideas and reinventing of the wheel. 

To become more cost-effective and optimally utilise all available resources, collaborative practice across related market networks is gaining pace and known commonly as ‘open innovation’.  Although open innovation is a fairly new concept, organisations across the globe are realising its power, to remain relevant and stay ahead of competition.

Across the globe, new ways to create value to the end customer and solution for tough pain-points, are being conceived by tapping creativity of the rich talent pool that is emerging today across economies. Open Innovation means openly accepting the fact, ‘Not all smart people work for us’, thus leading to tapping the global talent pool across companies and countries.  Years of observation and research clearly indicate effective innovation cannot be owned by one organisation alone, no matter how big or small it is!

Open Innovation is generally placed between businesses and academics, providing huge resource bank with numerous studies and research papers from different stakeholders on a particular subject with varying viewpoints, thus providing holistic analysis.  Being participatory in nature it adopts the decentralized approach to innovate and collaborate.   Many organisations are now nurturing in-house R & D and innovation centres to produce new ideas and solutions. 

However, many a time, these are under-utilized.  With open innovation, such ideas can be circulated in the open networks or platforms of relevant stakeholders and thus be consumed fully in the innovation process of other companies.   

All stakeholders include, businesses, academia, venture capitalists, R & D centres in various organisations, start-ups, etc. The main advantage of innovation is felt by companies when external ideas are incorporated in the organisation’s innovation process.

Indian companies, traditionally were thriving in the environment with dearth for innovation, generally preferring to ‘re-apply’ rather than invent or innovate.   Thankfully this approach is on the decline with businesses embracing gainful collaborations with global and domestic partners, ready to serve future markets.

However, with the credit of producing radical innovations and other advantages, open networks are also more challenging to manage, due to increase in number of participants from diverse backgrounds.  But this can be solved when all stakeholders see benefits with the alliance.  Market across industry categories shifting towards this new model will see a definite increase in the number of innovative offerings brought out benefitting the majority.

To survive in the global marketplace, business entities are moving beyond the four-walls to imbibe newer ideas, technologies and solutions.  Open Innovation is slowly gaining acceptance world-wide with relevant strategies for its implementation being formulated and applied extensively across industrial sectors.  For the success of ‘open innovation’, transparency across organisations is the key.  Well managed network of different solution providers who partner across various disciplines, will surely deliver the desired outcome.

Globally, various models for open innovation are in practice that is suitable to the ecosystem they operate in.  Asian countries like Japan and South Korea which lead in ‘open innovation’ in the region, however still lag behind the US. In India ofcourse, the idea is still in its nascent stage but the good news is it is getting adopted at a faster rate.  Thanks to the significant number of global organisations that have started to focus on India, where cutting edge technology work takes place. 

Organisations are developing sustainable models of continuous open innovation and collaborating, with networks evolving around different cultures and technological strengths, overcoming challenges they encounter on the way.