Blog post

Driving innovation with Technology Scouting

Technology Scouting is one of the core driving forces of innovation today.

The adage that it’s impossible to remain competitive without being innovative – a statement that we should all be too familiar with by now - rings true for corporations vying to gain a dominant foothold within their market space.

Forward-thinking companies know that innovation is not intramural. Innovation lies beyond an organization's four walls and there is a need to engage in a systematic process of scouting to uncover advantageous technologies, startups, and innovators to gain and sustain competitiveness.

Serial tech-acquirer Google knows this all too well. Google has spent tens of billions of dollars on tech acquisitions over the years, averaging between ten to eleven acquisitions a year. Its tech scouting strategy is dynamic, focusing on the acquisition of technology solutions to solve immediate market concerns and the acquirement of technologies that have the future potential to stimulate growth for the company.

Arguably its most successful acquisition to date, YouTube is a prime example of this. When purchased in 2006 for $1.65 billion dollars, YouTube was still in its infancy, and chatters of an over-evaluation of the platform were ample. While the one-billion-dollar figure may seem a hefty number, estimates put the value of YouTube now well over that mark – proving to be a profitable venture for Google indeed.

So, what can we learn from Google? How could we possibly compare ourselves to this monolithic tech giant with its billion-dollar innovation budgets?

The lesson: Google internally employs some of the smartest minds on the planet solely dedicated to developing the most innovative, cutting-edge products and services in the world. However, even Google looks beyond its organizational walls to scout technology, startups, and talents as a core strategic objective of its business growth.

So, it’s simple, to stay ahead of your competition, and to remain innovative, an organization must be on the active lookout for new technology and industry developments in the market, which could add high value to its innovation incentives.

Scouting Challenges

But hold on a minute, it's not all smooth scouting.

Tech acquisition requires serious investment, and rightfully Innovation and R&D Managers alike are highly cautious of where they spend their hard-fought-for budgets. However, identifying high-value opportunities that prove to be profitable can be extremely difficult. For tech scouters, being aware of every possible technological advancement on the market is paramount; however, this is not always straightforward.

Traditional tech scouting processes, which have relied largely on networking opportunities or sometimes even simple Google search exercises, have contributed to limiting tech scouting parameters. Managers often must do a lot of leg work to go out and discover the latest and greatest technologies, startups, and talents, causing a serious strain on time and resources.

Geographic limitations can also prove to be a huge hindrance for managers in charge of tech scouting programs. We live in an increasingly globalized world; however, knowing how to tap into the global marketplace to identify the right technological opportunities can prove challenging for many corporations. Outreach to international markets is not necessarily common-sense; some managers end up implementing complex processes for doing so.

But with all this effort, are they really finding the right solutions?

The answer: Make the technologies, startups, and innovators come to you, not the other way around.

How: Through open calls and an effective global outreach strategy.

Open calls are an excellent solution for organizations looking to identify high-value tech or talent assets. Open innovation calls encourage organizations, startups, and innovators to come to organizations with their technological offerings, seriously expanding the ‘scouting scope’ and saving managers precious time and resources.

To run a tech scouting open call, managers need to implement the right innovation tool to help them automate the selection and evaluation of technological applications and candidate submissions. To ensure calls are successful, a sophisticated global outreach strategy is also fundamental; working with a trusted innovation partner to help implement the outreach is paramount.

Worth the scout

With the right approach and the right tools, scouting becomes a smooth process that benefits a corporation.

For one, tech scouting helps to complement internal R&D activities. We are all human, after all, and we cannot think of everything, not even your brilliant R&D department. Acquiring a technology, startup, or talent, which already has all the answers to an innovation conundrum can save an organization immersible costs.

With that, an organization can accelerate its innovation initiatives at a rapid speed. Through acquisition, they have at hand a vetted and tested solution. They no longer need to invest significant time and resources, which serve to cause a lag in market competitiveness, to produce a similar solution through internal research and development.

Not to also mention the bonus of acquiring a technology to keep the valuable solution away from an organization’s competitors.

McKinsey has suggested that the most successful acquisitions happen early in the life cycle of a new product or industry; it is highly imperative to recognize the value in an acquisition before anyone else does.

For Innovation and R&D Managers, they can not waste time with outdated tech scouting methods, which prove to be stagnant and listless. They need to apply the right processes and tools to help them implement a systematic and efficient approach to scouting.

With this, managers can discover game-changing innovation solutions that position their organization as a leading innovator in their space - maybe even in the likes of Google.

To find out more about how to employ a successful tech scouting program, click here.

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