How Innovation in Companies Succeed: Innovator creates the product of the future in just two days during probationary employment
Or: From Probationary Innovator to Proven Innovator Jakob Jessen* is an industrial engineer. Throughout his…
What keeps us from successful innovation? Isn’t it supposed to be pretty easy? Just identify the problem, develop a solution, register the patent and launch on the market, right? In the Marketing, Research or Development departments, for example, you always hear the same answer: day-to-day business. “Actually, we have to…”, “We really should…”, “Someone needs to….”. The desire to make changes can be quickly swallowed up by the need for quick wins and low-hanging fruits to get through daily business life. There just isn’t time for anything else.
Typically, it takes a week to get the following done:
Why all of this takes a week is obvious: many things are taking place in parallel. The work is fragmented and you don’t get to concentrate completely on one task and finish it before moving on to the next.
The typical working day makes that sounds implausible, but maybe it’s precisely the typical working day that prevents you from achieving great things. It doesn’t take much to be able to develop patentable solution concepts in 5 days:
In general, something could be considered patentable if it is new, innovative, perhaps surprising and certainly credible and convincing. It should also be practical, efficient, appealing, useful, or elegant. In patent law, the presence of these factors is often (but not always) related to patentability. Patentable cooking recipes are therefore different from patentable gear drives or patentable product design. Patents or patentable solution concepts can be distinguished depending on the type of innovation.
Touchscreens, continuously variable automatic transmissions and OLEDs are classic technological innovations. They are technical creations, but they are not freestanding products that can be used by themselves.
At this point, we can talk about a patent from a patent law perspective. The solution concepts are new, i.e. they didn’t exist in this form before, and have never been used before. They are also not so obvious that the solution was right before our eyes. Also, the solutions are either of a technical nature (e.g. a new material), or based on a defined new procedure such as a modified manufacturing process. A patentable technological concept is, following assessment by industry experts and with consideration of the patent situation, new, viable and economically worthwhile.
Thermomix, cleaning robots, coffee capsule machines and self-driving cars are product innovations – common functionalities combined into one complete product. Only very rarely is the product itself patented. It doesn’t even have to be a physical object – life insurance and online platforms are also products. Ultimately, a product is a group of functionalities bundled together in a coherent design, and increasingly often, these products are an integral component part of a business model.
The coffee capsule machines are the product, and the business model that goes with them is based upon long-term sales of expensive coffee capsules. The coffee machine itself generally generates no revenue. When something is protected by a patent, it is generally single pieces of technology within the product that are patented: for example, the mechanism for opening the capsule within the coffee machine. A coherent product concept can be considered ‘patentable’ if it addresses clearly defined customer needs, is technologically feasible, has economic potential and can be protected. Patent protection is, however, only one of the possibilities. It’s an added benefit if the product is unexpected, ingenious or particularly emotionally appealing.
Self-service checkouts, paying by smartphone, additive manufacturing processes and digitalised insurance contracts are service and process innovations. They all have a sequence of sometimes complex work steps with countless interactions in common. The goal, of course, is for satisfied users on the client side, and simple and robust processes on the provider side.
Digitalisation is the key here. With the digital tools currently at our disposal, the possibilities for innovative services seem limitless. Whether it’s for FinTech, E-Commerce or 3D printing, remember that just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should. Much more often, the art is in reducing a product to the basics and focussing on successful control of the processes. Every concept has its basic requirements, performance requirements and of course the requirement to provoke enthusiasm from the user, as well as the need for significant KPIs and effective control methods. If the concept can stand on its own two feet, technological and digital supports can be put in place if necessary. This opens the door for patent protection of the process. Practically speaking, however, it’s questionable whether patent protection actually makes sense at this point. It may in fact be better to direct resources towards maintenance of an existing advantage in knowledge and experience.
Toy rental, ad-financed music streaming, hiring of private drivers and crowdfunding platforms are all business models. Business models combine additional value for the customer with sustainable income for the provider. An understanding of a company’s business model requires an understanding of the company’s business and economic perspectives.
An innovative, ingenious business model links revenues and customer satisfaction in one offer that stands out from the competition. Typically, the business model is complemented with key partnerships. In the case of music streaming, that could be the artists; for crowdfunding it could be several private innovation enthusiasts who are looking to support their favourite projects. A fully rounded business model is made up of many proven building blocks. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time. As with all types of innovation, a decisive advantage can be gained when structuring an innovative business model by recombining existing, proven knowledge in a new way.
You can change a lot in 5 days. There are no limits to what a motivated team can achieve with ambitious moderation and the desire to make changes. Do you want to quickly develop patentable solutions, and do it using your company’s own expertise? Call us on + 49 30 60 98 49 02 87 or use our contact form. You can also come along to our open events on the topic of innovation to find out more about the advantages of structured innovation.