Harvard Business Review: Open Innovation Achieves Smarter New Product Development

Despite the challenges that come with economic recovery, companies are expanding their commitment to the research and development of products over the next two years according to a new study from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services. 

The study, called “Closing the Gap: How Companies Achieve Smarter New Product Development and Make Better Decisions with Technology” executives say that gains in their business will come from increasing efficiency, deploying information technology (IT) to help identify promising ideas, and tracking and evaluating R&D projects. They are also focused on finding new streams of ideas from partners, suppliers, and others.

The latter is where it gets interesting, according to Alex Clemente, Managing Director of HBR Analytic Services and International Sponsorships:

“As more manufacturing moves to emerging markets and further away from headquarters, companies are finding that research and development is no longer an exclusive domain for engineers in lab coats.

With a trend toward ‘open innovation’ – not only are sales, marketing, finance, and operations now collaborating with R&D – so are partners, suppliers, customers, and competitors.”

Opening the business, be it internal collaboration between departments, or involving external stakeholders is becoming more and more important. Open innovation is not an option anymore but a requirement.

The survey found:

  • Half of the companies surveyed said increasing the rate of innovation is a top priority in 2011.
  • IT is a key enabler of new product development processes and outcomes.
  • Customer suggestions are the most important source of new product ideas.
  • New product development is a team sport. More than half of the companies said marketing, operations, sales, and finance work with the R&D department.
  • 50-five per cent said partners are an important source of ideas and innovation support.
  • 40-three per cent said intellectual property protection is a challenge in working with external organisations.

Economic recovery promoting Open Innovation

This is where despite (see first ling of article) could be replaced by due to because it are “favourable” circumstances towards Open Innovation to explore mechanisms and facilitators that are able to 1) reduce cost and 2) increase output-to-market.

Open Innovation itself is not mature yet (in PLC terms), organisations have time to experiment, open up their business and learn what it brings. In a few years Open Innovation will be simply Innovation, where internal- and external collaboration has become a natural part of doing business.

Efficiency and effectiveness are on top of mind to produce better products and services for the intended end consumers, this is being achieved by collaborative innovation, involving all important and relevant parties.

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