Archive for the 'Targeted technology' Category

10 common Open Innovation mistakes

For many years innovative organisations have been trying to resolve the conundrum of how to get to bigger impact innovation more quickly and with less investment. In answer to this, the practice of Open Innovation is increasingly being adopted as the normal mode of operation for leading innovative companies. Open Innovation, applied correctly, offers the opportunity to access leading capabilities from around the world, exploiting complementary technologies and partnerships to short-cut the need for expensive internal activity and to realise innovation strategies faster. Some companies have adapted to this new way of working quickly and relatively painlessly but many organisations have had teething problems, to say the least. We have identified 10 common mistakes which can stop organisations from benefiting from the Open Innovation way of working.

1. Engaging externally without a clear innovation strategy

With all the talk about Open Innovation, it’s tempting to just give it a quick go. Just because Open Innovation is current flavour of the month and you’re just trying it out doesn’t mean that you should avoid linking it to your strategic objectives. In this respect, it’s just like any other type of innovation – if it’s not linked to strategy, you’re unlikely to be able to implement it and you’ll end up burning money.

2. Poor definition of the requirement or need

A poorly defined initial brief can make the crucial difference between success and failure to connect with potentially relevant partners. One aspect of poor definition which I see time and time again in Open Innovation is requirement definitions which focus on pre-conceived solutions rather than focusing on functions and parameters to be delivered. This kind of thinking really narrows down the solution space at a point when the process should really be divergent and it can seriously obstruct cross-industry engagement. A key area where Open Innovation can really score is in bringing in cross industry connections. These are great because you’re less likely to have competitive issues and if you’re clever about connecting with the right industry, their technology can be more advanced than yours. If your brief stops you making cross industry connections you’re going to miss out on big opportunities for faster, lower cost and bigger impact innovation.

3. Failing to get sufficient internal business or brand team engagement

Using Open Innovation, you can connect with great partners, but if you can’t get the attention of your internal business or brand teams then all you effort can be wasted. Clearly, having a shared innovation strategy will help a lot but sometimes you also need to find ways to engage your internal customers in the possibilities that the world outside the business can offer. Creating an engagement strategy upfront linked to organisation and processes to deal with this new form of innovation can be critical in getting buy-in and “pull” for your externally sourced ideas and technologies.

4. Not having a clear, aligned internal view about how to handle IP

This may seem obvious, but Open Innovation projects can stall not only as a result of failure to agree external terms around IP licensing or sharing but also through internal misalignment with regard to IP. I remember a meeting amongst IP professionals where Open Innovation was discussed where two whole flip charts of IP issues were raised before a single positive aspect of Open Innovation was mentioned. The IP team needs to be actively engaged in your Open Innovation strategy, with a mindset based on finding ways to make it happen.

5. Ruling out radical or unexpected options too quickly

One interesting factor with broad based Open Innovation is that potential solutions can come from anywhere. This can sometimes make it difficult to understand the value of solutions which are really different. If the requirement has been set poorly, it can be all too easy to miss the option which might give you a real innovation edge.

6. Lack of variety in Open Innovation approach

The Open Innovation area has evolved significantly since its inception some year ago. This means that there are many options which can help you to connect with potentially valuable partners. Many companies still fail to exploit the richness that is on offer and stay with one supplier. This can seriously jeopardise the chances of finding the right partner. For example, the average success rate achieved through idea market places such as Nine Sigma or Innocentive is around 40%. That means that 6 times out of every 10 you will fail to get the result you want. The best option is use a combined approach of two or more Open Innovation service providers.

7. Not understanding the attitude as well as capabilities of potential partners

A potential partner might have the right technology to satisfy your needs but do they have the right internal motivations, attitudes and behaviours to become a long term, trusted partner? Many of the on-line Open Innovation tools fail to give you a flavour of this important part of your potential partner’s profile. You need to make sure your evaluation tools and review processes specifically probe this area.

8. Not respecting the needs of potential partners

In any innovation process, lack of feedback can quickly kill interest from the solution provider end. At the least, the solution provider deserves a rapid and detailed response so that they can stay engaged with the process and feel better equipped to answer the next challenge. The decision making processes in large organisations can be long and drawn out and without any interim feedback or indication of good faith the solution provider can become suspicious even before a direct contact has been made. This really isn’t a good way to start a new long term relationship.

9. Looking at potential partners in isolation

Modern innovation often requires complex combinations of capabilities to be brought together, creating unique and sustainable value to the end customer. A step that is commonly missed is to try to “join the dots” and consider interesting combinations of capabilities. An even more sophisticated route which is often overlooked is to creating additional value by bringing together disparate network contacts to solve problems which are mutually important to you and your partners.

10. Last but not least…failure to build trust

If you were asked by a mysterious company to share your deepest technology secrets in an open “non-confidential” way with only the vaguest chance of any reward at the end, would you do it? The only reason that solution providers do just this is because they have some (possibly unwarranted) trust in the Open Innovation process and some belief that they may have just the right solution for the client. Going into Open Innovation without a win-win approach and behaviours which deliberately build trust will quickly kill your chances of getting anything meaningful and long term from it.


Technology Innovation at Philips Applied Technologies

Last week I visited Philips Applied Technologies in Eindhoven and I was given the inside line on a number of impressive new technology applications.¬†Philips Applied Technologies¬†are¬†well experienced in applying and integrating a wide range of technologies including software, electronics, robotics, precision motion and sensors. They act as a consultancy wing of Philips, helping to broaden the use of Philips technologies and applications for a very broad range of clients in areas as diverse as retail, healthcare, energy and semiconductor manufacture. While there, I had a look around “homelab”, a demonstrator for the home of the future, I saw a number of neat technology applications and I experienced the Philips 3D TV in 42″ LCD format. Watching the new TV, without any special glasses, is a seriously convincing visual and sensory treat – I watched a very realistic 3D film sequence from Journey to the Centre of the Earth and witnessed Pinnochio’s nose grow out of the screen. It works by having an extra lenticular layer in the screen which is designed to interact with the displayed image and special¬†processing chips to send the correct images in real time to your right and left eyes to create the 3D effect. It’s a bit like a super whizzy version of the lenticular display signs you sometimes see which give a moving image or a 3D image as you move your head. To view the screen, you need to position your head so you can’t see any ghosting and then enjoy. Apart from this the only limitation seems to be that the resolution of 2D images suffers so the display is effectively limited to 3D. Initial applications are in digital signage retailing at up to $13,000 for the 42″ version. I think it’s called WOWvx.

Heres a quick video about Philips 3D TV to give you some faint idea of how cool it is.

Other cool things being worked on are lab-on-a-chip devices, already being used to detect high alcohol or drug levels in drivers, a new Optical imaging mammography system, Near Field Comms technology to enable WiFi, low cost noise cancelling headphones, some amazing precise mechatronic systems (for use in future 22nm fab lines) and some clever ways to configure LED lighting systems.

I was really impressed by the capabilities and technologies that Philips Applied Technologies have on offer. I can imagine that when used with strong market and consumer insight, application of the technologies they have on offer could easily result in some true market breakthrough products.

From the Open Innovation perspective, the whole High Tech Campus in Eindhoven has been through something of an opening up process over the last few years and Philips is finding new ways to showcase and connect with customers through initiatives such as “Meet and Match” where technologies are demonstrated and explained and customer needs elaborated.

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Successful Sporting Innovation and, shock horror, it’s British

Back from my vacationing now and kicking the blog back into life. While on my hols, I’ve been avidly watching the Olympics and I have to say, from the Brit point of view there has been a beacon of innovation in the shape of the Great Britain Cycling Team. Just over 12 years ago in 1996, GB cycling was an international joke but now, after an admittedly large cash injection, some really strong strategic management, focused implementation efforts, inspired coaching and leading edge technology innovation (basically anything which could give a proven time saving), GB cycling is the force in world track cycling. UK Sport set various targets for British sporting teams going into the Beijing Olympics; the cycling team was¬†tasked with delivering a higher than average¬†6 medals. In the end the cyclists won 14 medals; eight golds, four silvers and two bronze medals. Not only that but there were some fantastic breakthrough performances from young riders such as Stephen Burke and Jason Kenny which shows the system is really working and gets me excited about things going even better in London 2012. There has been a lot in the press, questioning why other sporting teams such as the GB athletics team can’t deliver the same type of transformation, unfortunately these sports are still being run by paid amateurs for now. Anyway, regardless of this, I think Dave Brailsford and his team have really hit the sporting innovation sweet spot. What an inspiring innovation example!

Just as a reminder, here’s a picture of Bradley Wiggins winning the individual pursuit. Apologies to non-Brit (especially Australian) readers.

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Getting to Gemba – a day in the Cardiac Cath Lab


On Friday last week, I spent the day¬†at one of¬†the Cardiac Catheterisation Labs at St. Thomas’ hospital, London. Not as a patient, you understand, but as an observer. You might ask¬†why a moderately squeamish person like myself¬†would do this willingly? Well, my reason was a principled one. I firmly believe that it is impossible to innovate effectively without a¬†clear understanding of the context and usage of your final innovation. Ideally, I like to “go to gemba”,¬†otherwise known as¬†the place where the problem exists, so I can¬†dig for tacit knowledge and observe unconscious behaviours. In¬†this case, however, I’d rather got the cart before the horse because, due to the wonder of Open Innovation and Ideagoras, I answered an RFP (Request For Proposal) on Nine Sigma about improvements to catheter systems, used, for example, in cardiac pocedures, without ever seeing how such an item might be used. At the time it was a bit difficult to see the system in action because a) my foot was in plaster and b) I didn’t know any cardiologists. So, I went ahead and broke my rule and answered the RFP with what I hoped was a pretty creative and novel solution. The Nine Sigma clients at the other end thought so too for a while until they got frightened off by the potential development time. Meanwhile I found a willing cardiologist and he invited me into his cath lab for a day. It was quite an experience – I didn’t pass out and I learnt a lot! Here are a few observations:

There are a lot of people in the lab during a procedure. I’d imaginged just a cardiologist and maybe a radiologist before I went but actually there were two cardiologists present during all the procedures I witnessed (admittedly more complex than average), one radiologist, one catheter nurse, one nurse to look after the patient who is conscious throughout, one technician to monitor the vital signs and at least one further technician behind the scenes to record key image video sequences

Everyone has to wear heavy lead oversuits to protect them the from x-ray radiation from the imaging system. My feet really ached at the end of the day – so much for a sedentary lifestyle!

The x-ray dose and contrast fluid (used to show the artery size on the x-ray image) dose are strictly limited due to the exposure risk to the patient and capacity of the patient’s kidneys to process the contrast fluid from the blood stream.

You can do an awful¬†lot “percutaneously” – see, I’ve got the jargon going already¬†– it means through the skin, under local anaestetic. You can even fit a replacement atrial heart valve using a catheter!

It can be really tricky to find and unblock arteries sometimes, especially if the blockage is close to the intersection with a larger vessel. This can be a very frusutrating and fiddly procedure requiring super-human levels of patience. This illustrated how much the cardiologists rely on “feel” when using the catheter system.

There are already some very impressive technologies available to reduce the friction in catheter systems. One such solution is known as “crosswire”, a 0.014″ diameter hydrophillic coated guide wire often used to break through blockages (as part of a procedure known as Angioplasty). Aparently “a lot of people don’t use crosswire because although its easy to position, it doesn’t stay put”. This is because it can be pushed out by the patient’s blood pressure.

There is a tremendous array of different catheter systems in the lab store, with different end forms, from many different manufacturers. Each cardiologist has his or her personal favourites.

Anyway, I didn’t disgrace myself and I’ve been invited back for another day or so. What did I learn that I didn’t know before? The key things I learnt were:

  • the guide wire isn’t just a means of steering the catheter into place as I thought. It is a functional tool in it’s own right
  • Feel is really critical to the cardiologist
  • There is a huge benefit in speeding up procedures in terms of patient wellbeing and lab efficiency
  • Current catheter systems lack¬†the level of detection capability and controllability needed for some more complex PCIs (Percutaneous Cardiac Interventions)

The whole experience reminded me that in terms of innovation getting to gemba is critical. When was the last time you saw your products in use up-close and personal?


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Linkedin answers for SME open innovation

Recently I asked¬†a question on Linkedin about open innovation¬† options for SMEs. In, particular, I focused my question on SMEs who think they have a great technology with broad potential, perhaps in mew market areas,¬†but are struggling to grow their sales. Here’s the question I posed:

If a small company has a great technology but a small market base, what are the best options for that company to connect with bigger markets?¬†I’ve been writing about Open Innovation in my blog and one area of the market which doesn’t seem to be as well served is SMEs seeking market growth. The scenario is something like this: I’ve got a great technology with IP protection but I can’t afford the time or cost of posting this on one of the on-line marketplaces e.g. What options do I have?

Greg Bautz, Owner at Sales Surge LLC, answered:

If Sales is not your core competency, then seriously consider outsourcing so you can focus your time and resources on your core company values and capabilities.
When your company wants better sales results, in the start-up phase, or ready to expand to the next level of corporate growth, you need to focus your resources and attention on your core product or service and not on developing sales processes and hiring a sales team. By outsourcing this business process, your company will move at the speed of light and leverage the core competency of the sales outsourcing to Sales Surge, we already have these systems and processes in place. As an added benefit, your company is getting the benefit of access to senior sales executives, sales consultants and sales trainers that perhaps you could not afford or justify. A real synergy begins to develop as you bring these talents together.

Anil Choudhary, Group Delivery Head, ASEAN & JAPAN at Wipro Technologies said:

 I think allaince and partnership may be best way to get bigger market base. However choosing right partner and alliance is the key and finding that may not be so easy.

One option is to leverage internet but unless you are in right place at right time, these could not give desired result quickly.

You could look at participating in some industrial seminar and conferences which you think may be interested in your product. A demo and talk on the technology and product could create interest in the group and could lead to some initial traction. You could also get your idea and product communicated through ebast to participants and that will help a lot if your demo and talk has made some people interested.

Another way could be to tie-up with some bigger player on profit and cost sharing basis for initial 2-3 years timeframe. This will not help in getting much profit initially but will ensure that effort and cost spent in getting attention and customer can be reduced to a great degree. Through this big player, once you have got to the right customer and your product / technology has become little bit familiar in the market place, you could extend it on your own. In fact chances are that this partner may become your customer or provide bettr deal for continued alliance. You must however ensure that IP remains with you.

Peter Adams, Head of Group Business Systems at High Tech Electronics Global Manufacturer advised:

Firstly, seeking parternships or entrance vehicles with companies that either have your customer OR are offering something aligned to your product. an entrance vehicle would be steve jobs saying how wonderfull your ‘do hicky’ is or Oprah or some other high profile candidate

secondly, joint venture arrangements to piggy back on another product for a split to gain market access

thirdly, a test/free version to give away to capture a backend profit ( assuming you have a backend to the entry product – and you should ! )

fourth, eMarketing to create the broader demand. ie. (directly ) Articles, whitepapers,blogs, books, audio and video, social marketing etc to drive traffic to your direct presence on the net. (indirectly ) locating all the eMarketing activity related to your prodcut and adding value that links back to you – no pitching BUT value for the consumer of that feed – those who like will come looking (existing )

fithly ) targetting specific consumers – identify your core love to have as customers Prospects and then target your marketing to win them ( see David Ogilvy or Chet Holmes for the dream 100 approach )

6th ) PR. use media placement strategies to raise the profile.

ps. if you cant find time to sell it – why on earth did you make it ?

And, finally Tim Northcutt, Director, Sales РAmericas at Dow Reichhold Specialty Latex LLC said:

One of the best ways we have found to get integrated quickly into a new market is to find the primary industry conference for the market, assuming one exists and connect there. Either attend the annual meeting to identify key industry players for partnership, or use the event organization to conduct an eblast introduction of your technology. The choice depends on your strategic intentions whether to choose a small development partnership versus a broad market approach. The small partnership approach requires diligence on IP ownership. Experience has suggested that development partners tend to over estimate their contributions if not clearly defined as the process unfolds. Both methods have generated positive results. If a large enough audience can be gathered, we have had success with introductory webinar events coordinated through an industry organization. Alternatively we have had success in hiring a credible, usually retired, industry executive who can immediately provide us with access to the highest levels of targeted customers. This contract employee gives us immediate credibility and access to key decision makers. Compensation is done on an hourly basis for consulting fees.
Either way, the key is quick and credible access to the right people at the right potential partner at reasonable cost. Best of luck!

So to summarise this advice, key strategies to get your technology more widely known are:

  • Clarify¬†the market area you wish to target
  • Identify and attend primary industry conferences for your target market. Alternatively, link up with the organisers and get them help you promote your technology
  • Partner with key players in that market, i.e. who either already deal with your target customer or offer something parallel/complementary. If these are development partners, be careful to protect your IP
  • Target your prime customers and aim your promotional material at them, consider running introductory webinars or hire a credible, usually retired, indutry executive to help
  • Get some sales help from people who already have the skills¬†



Philips target non-consumption to create a market breakthrough

In an interesting example of targeting new product innovation at non-consumption as outlined in the Innovator’s solution by Clayton Christensen, I learnt from Putting People First that Philps have launched a low cost a series of new portable, compact patient monitors that provides a reliable, yet affordable means to observe and care for patients. Now available to healthcare providers in India, the new Philips SureSigns VM3 is the first Philips patient monitor designed for emerging markets.

The Philips SureSigns VM3 offers ECG, respiration and pulse oximetry in one user friendly, compact monitor that helps provide quality care in almost any clinical setting. It offers vital signs measurement and monitoring in an easy-to-use system that can be used in various departments throughout the hospital, nursing homes, private practices and rural clinics, as well as ambulances and mobile facilities.

This product is a great example of taking a system which has been far too expensive for an emerging (non-consuming) market and using technology in a creative, and dare I say, targeted, way to provide real mutual benefit. I like it.

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FDIN Seminar – Breakthrough Innovation for the Food and Drink Industry

Just got back from an excellent seminar, run by the Food and Drink Innovation Network¬†(FDIN). Lots of interesting stuff to share in future blogs on ways to improve your targeting of Lead Users and ways to engage them more fully in your innovation process, Open Innovation, Consumer Trends and¬†Emerging Packaging formats. Incidentally, the FDIN is a great source of information about¬†developments in the food industry and I make sure I get regular updates.ÔŅĹ

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All Terrain Quadruped Robot – a glimpse of the future?

I found this amazing video on the Boston Dynamics website yesterday of a quadruped robot, BigDog¬†which can get over serious obstacles, climb 35 degree slopes, carry 400lbs and even gallop and jump. It is pretty cool even if it is powered by a (rather noisy) gasoline engine driving hydraulics.¬†There are clearly¬†some very sophisticated control algorithms in it’s on-board computer – some of the shots of it trying to stay upright on ice¬†are amazing! I then had a look through the rest of the stuff on the site, how about a tree and wall climber, a sneaky all-terrain ground crawler and a small brother to BigDog imaginatively called LittleDog. I reckon this one seems a bit more house trained and might even make a good pet. Anyway, here’s a shot of BigDog full loaded.

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Yet another petrolhead supercar – but this one’s electric

Following on from my post on the latest from Tesla, I’ve just come across details of a new electric supercar, due to be launched at the British International Motor Show. The Electric Lightning GT uses a bank of 30 rechargeable batteries based on a new “Nanosafe” technology providing power to four, wheel mounted, electric motors, generating a claimed 700bhp and propelling the car from 0 to 60 mph in 4.0 seconds. The car is equipped with full traction control and regenerative braking on all four wheels and lightweight carbon fibre/Kevlar composite¬†structure.¬†Of course, a silent electric supercar somehow seems wrong, at least to petrolheads, so this car comes equipped with a engine-sound generator that emulates an engine’s roar. It’s expected to cost ¬£150,000, is exempt from UK car tax and the London congestion charge. This is what it looks like..

Well it certainly looks shiny and the technology seems pretty clever, but something doesn’t quite add up. I remember reading that the main reason people buy the Prius is because it says something about them and the way they’re safeguarding the world, so what does an electric supercar which looks like and sounds like the ultimate eco hate-object, complete with an engine-noise generator,¬†say about it’s owner? Is it possible to have your cake and eat it too?


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Apple App Store – platform for co-creation

Following on nicely from¬†last week’s post on platforms for co-creation, Apple have just taken another step towards C K Prahalad’s vision of tomorrow’s innovation model. Alongside the launch of the new 3G iPhone, Apple have just snuck out a new business platform which could, in time be as big as iTunes is today. The Apple App store is a new online Apple store that will post and sell third party software applications. The plan is to split revenues between Apple and the 3rd party software developers in the ratio of 30/70. So far, hundreds of thousands of developers have downloaded iPhone’s software developer’s kit, and with predictions of hundreds of millions of iPhone users five years from now, the App store could be a very busy place indeed.

Third party software could enable the market itself to keep the innovation pipeline going. Steve¬†Jobs says that the new iPhone is about the things consumers have been asking for, and about delivering a whole bunch of stuff they didn’t even know they wanted.


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