I recently did the below interview with Campus Party, which is an interesting organization that stages week-long events that connects thousands of people on the intersection of innovation and technology.
What is the importance of working with Open Innovation nowadays?
Innovation has finally been fully recognized as a critical element for business success and if companies want to bring out better innovation faster, they need to open up. Things are happening so fast today that no single company can deliver what the marketplace demands by themselves.
At first, companies began embracing open innovation because of the promises given by this new paradigm shift of innovation. Today, they have no choice. Everyone needs to get onboard – or they will be left in the dust. In fast-moving consumer goods industries, consumers now expect to be able to contribute to the new offerings put forth by the companies. In b-t-b settings, it is very much about building the strongest innovation eco-systems and those that get this right first will reap some early as well as long-lasting benefits.
What is necessary for a company to start working with open innovation?
When people ask me what open innovation is, I suggest they should view open innovation as a philosophy or a mindset that they should embrace within their organization. This mindset should enable their organization to work with external input to the innovation process just as naturally as it does with internal input. In a more practical definition, open innovation is about bridging internal and external resources and acting on those opportunities to bring better innovation to market faster.
Yes, you do need tools and processes, but they are not worth much if your organization is not ready to open up. Thus, companies need to focus on how to change the minds of their employees on a short, mid and long-term basis.
What are the main challenges for those who want to work with open innovation? And for those who already work with it?
This goes back to the previous question. You need to be able to open up your organization for external input and this can be a serious challenge if you have been used to doing everything by yourself.
On an individual level, I see three skills as required for innovation success. You need to be a good networker, a good communicator and you need to have the ability to approach innovation on a more holistic level. Innovation needs to be about more than just products or technologies; processes and services are just as important.
I also believe that good corporate innovators need to be good faciliators, who can help their colleagues within different business units make innovation happen and as a part of this, they also need to be good integrators in briding internal and external resources.
Is it possible to extract ideas and real solutions to company’s problems using an open innovation platform?
Yes, this is happening all the time. It is still difficult getting conclusive evidence on the results of open innovation as academics and other researchers need more time to extract key findings out of the growing knowledge pool. Open innovation is still a very new discipline. However, companies would not continue to invest in their open innovation capabilities if they did not already have early successes on this.
Still regarding the open innovation subject, is it possible to foresee the outlook of company’s activities?
When it comes to innovation in general, you can now expect certain outcomes on certain activities. The reason is that there is so much knowledge – articles, research as well as tacit knowledge among employees and external consultants and partners – which enables you to apply pattern recognition techniques to your innovation initiatives. This is still too early for open innovation, but we will get there in 5-7 years time.