Blog post

Tapping into the innovation grid

When we think of the perfect innovation ecosystem we think of the Silicon Valley. With its unique mix of creative entrepreneurial talent, unlimited capital availability, top notch academic institutions and widespread support services, the Silicon Valley has been able to churn out, decade after decade, the world's most innovative and disruptive companies. There have been endless studies of what makes the Silicon Valley so unique and numerous attempts at replicating it around the world. To date, none have really succeeded in their intent.

While re-creating an ecosystem such as the Silicon Valley still seems to be an arduous and unrealistic task, the technological and economical forces that are reshaping the global economy present some unprecedented opportunities for businesses around the world to access those same resources that make the Silicon Valley so special (talent, capital and support services) without having to physically be there.

The increased global penetration of smartphones and fast internet is resulting in an ever more decentralised innovation ecosystem where a multitude of mini / micro-innovation hubs (as small as one person and his / her device connected to the Internet) are linked to each other in a truly global and distributed innovation grid.

In the ever more complex and uncertain financial environment that companies, of any size and industry, are currently operating in, access to this innovation grid represents a unique opportunity to gain competitiveness and stay ahead of the curve. Tapping into the grid to "outsource" (or "crowdsource") some of the most strategic activities is not an easy decision. It requires companies to take bold steps and significantly rethink their strategy and internal operations in order to adapt their organization accordingly.

Companies that have embraced this more open approach to innovation and product development are today market leaders in their respective industries. By collaborating with external communities they are able to bring game-changing innovations to market faster and more cost-effectively. Think of Procter & Gamble, with its Connect & Develop program, that has generated over half of its product initiatives by collaborating with the outside wall. But think also of smaller companies that with very limited R&D budgets and resources, can tap into the innovation grid at a fraction of the cost of what it would cost them to develop in-house solutions.

In today's context of unprecedented turbulence, uncertainty and economic hardship, (easy) access to the innovation grid represents a unique opportunity for any organization to drive smarter innovation, gain a competitive edge by developing breakthrough products, reduce costs through process improvements, get closer to their customers and other stakeholder communities, and much more.

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