As companies work to navigate today’s challenging business environment – and managers look to make the best out of their situations—innovation must remain a critical priority. New ideas harvested today will become the products and services sold to more discriminating customers, and will ultimately drive strong growth as market health returns. Innovation is also critical for internal operations as companies are forced to maintain (and even improve) their businesses with fewer staff, support services and other infrastructure. The key is defining an innovation strategy and approach that drives quicker, more cost effective, and lower risk opportunities for new products, services and operational efficiencies.
In working with our customers, we see a well-defined, two-pronged approach of both internal innovation and external partnering. While certainly not new concepts, the key to both dimensions is efficiency in identifying and quickly vetting opportunities, and getting them to commercialization and marketing; or for internal operations improvements, rapidly transitioning to new processes so that benefits can be quickly realized. While the discipline of a rigorous review and decision process remains a fundamental best practice, accelerating gate reviews and reducing cycle times is also critical to success.
The challenge is often a matter of workplace culture and human nature. As poor financial results lead to staff reductions, budget cuts and other day-to-day changes, the compounding effect is to slow down operations and reduce productivity. This is the exact opposite of what is necessary to navigate through, and out of, difficult times.
While technology is never in and of itself a cure, many organizations are turning to their IT systems as the key means for implementing and enforcing more rigorous innovation processes. Investment in improving or replacing less efficient systems which impact the innovation process is considered a high return investment because they are the enablers of efficiency and accountability. For Anaqua, this means that companies are looking at such processes
- Invention disclosure and review – how to improve the efficiency of R&D and inventors in identifying, submitting and prioritizing new ideas
- Portfolio management and IP reviews – using tools to improve automation, sharing and reporting on IP data and competitive intelligence
- Collaboration with law firms and outsourced (LPO) services – enable legal departments to load balance work between internal and external service providers to maximize cost efficiencies
- Agreements management – improving negotiation and administration of agreements, and improving controls around IP ownership, partner relationships and financials
How is your company managing internal innovation and external partnering in a tough economy?