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Innovation Consulting for technology innovation often sounds strange to development managers, developers and engineers. Aren’t we the experts? What do they think they can tell us? Aren’t consultants more for strategy meetings and SAP implementation? We want to address these questions and help you decide whether innovation consulting for technology innovation can support your company’s success.
What is Technology Innovation?
Foldable touchscreen displays, super-hard glass and printable electrical connections are typical technology innovations – new technological developments that are successful on the market and among the target group. A special feature of technology innovation is that it is not sold directly over the counter, but is always part of a larger product. Usually, it also involves property rights, patents and technical or technological problem solving. That is to say, the really tough nuts, whether in terms of hardware, software or combinations thereof.
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What are typical challenges in technology innovation?
- Cracking the tough nuts is a big challenge. Developers often work on an issue for months or years and without making much progress. Or they do not even dare address certain challenges if a fundamental idea for a solution is not on hand.
- The challenges are often much less of a technical nature. Engineers love technology and love diving into the depths of technology – as long as they don’t have to face the customer. Over-engineering and developing solutions that no one buys in the end are another common challenge in technology innovation.
- Financial issues are not a home game for tech freaks. Questions about possible sales figures for new solutions, expected margins, investments, payback periods and business cases are not topics dear to the heart of developers and engineers. The rude awakening therefore often comes late – and hard. Useless innovation.
- Time is another crucial challenge in technology innovation. “It takes as long as it takes” to develop an outstanding solution. And “you can’t for plan that” is something engineers like to say. As a result, many issues are neglected, and the competition often proves that it does not take so long after all and succeeds more quickly.
- Poor communication often hinders success. How does the technician explain to the controller that money must now be spent on the technology of the future? If the sales manager and the managing director get involved, then innovation potential can fall by the wayside.
- Last but not least, focusing on the right things is a big problem. After all, there are so many ideas that beg for attention, all promising potential for technology innovation. Not to mention the challenges that lack an identifiable solution. In most industrial and technology companies, for example, several hundred half-hearted innovation projects languish from lack of focus. Sometimes weeks go by without any progress.
How does Innovation Consulting support Technology Innovation?
Technology innovation is obviously deeply rooted in technical issues and technology. Specific, technical solution ideas are therefore not the province of innovation consulting. There are experts for that, and you have your own. Rather, innovation consulting for technology innovation helps in the following ways:
INNOVATION CONSULTING MAKES THE INCONCEIVABLE CONCEIVABLE
Engineers, technicians and developers are like all experts. Their experience has taught them what “just won’t work”. Experience has shown what all “just won’t work” until someone else makes it work. Because it can work. Call it blinkered thinking, psychological inertia, or operational blindness. No matter what you call it, it imposes a strong brake on progress that cannot be released from inside the car. Innovation consulting gets your experts “outside of their box”.
DIVERSE INNOVATION TEAMS AND COOPERATION BETWEEN DIVERSE EXPERTS
Co-Creation is on everyone’s lips. In technology innovation, it is a major challenge. Each expert brings different experiences to the table. Everyone speaks a different “lingo”. And everyone knows so much that discussion can last weeks, even if only every other expert wants to discuss everything they can think of: about technology today, about technology yesterday, about what has already failed, and what you should do anyway. Innovation consulting focuses on this type of collaboration and sees to it that everything is placed on the table within just a few days. Everything necessary. No more, no less. And it ensures that groundbreaking solutions are developed in a few days that would otherwise cost months and years.
DEVELOPING IDEAS IS JUST A SMALL PART OF INNOVATION.
An idea or invention only counts as an innovation when it succeeds in the market. And the more innovative the technology, the greater the risk that the customer will end up shrugging his shoulders and preferring to stick to what he already knows. After all, most people do not want anything truly new. People want more – or better – of what they already know. At least initially. Innovation consulting helps to ensure that they won’t say “that’s awesome, but I don’t pay extra for it” but rather “… I’ll pay any price”. Cross-industry insights and the experience of the innovation consultant are important keys here. Experts on your team will be able to convince themselves that they can also convince others. And then they do it.
Isn’t Innovation Consulting simply a variety of classic Management Consulting?
Classic management consulting says that a procedure that works in company A also works in company B. This is a well-known approach to topics such as SAP, quality, efficiency, lean manufacturing and others. The challenges of implementation usually affect the company when the management consultant has already packed his bags and is back on the plane. This approach is still most likely to work when the subject is innovation management. There are comparable answers in comparable companies.
It is therefore worth distinguishing between consulting for innovation management and consulting for innovation. Innovation management is not innovation! Innovation management helps with questions, managing innovation portfolios, reporting, efficient budget allocation, innovation processes and innovation systems. Innovation concerns itself with the product of the future, the business model of the next 10 years, the leap of technology to the next S-curve and what the right subjects for these innovations are. Innovation creates innovation. This includes selecting the right subjects that find acceptance in the company, putting together the right team, actually understanding the customer, developing the best ideas, developing outstanding concepts and prototypes, validating that the customer really wants it, and proving that it can also be economically profitable for the company as an actual market success.
Technology Innovation is one of the four types of innovation. Product Innovation, Service/Process Innovation and Business Model Innovation are the others. In principle, innovation management covers all types of innovation. If you want to immerse yourself in a subject and lead technology innovations to success, consulting for “innovation” rather than consulting for “innovation management” will help more. Only when a large number of real technology innovations (not optimizations or further developments) are undergoing development does it become necessary to think about innovation management. A handful of innovations can also be handled without special “management” that goes beyond innovation project management.
Isn’t Technology Innovation Simply Research and Development?
THE CLASSIC APPROACH: INNOVATION Inside-Out
Research, development and pre-development are traditionally based on the question: What could be achieved? You come from what you know and think about where you could take it if you think about it. The result is sometimes an innovation. If a thought was fruitful, an idea was able to be shaped into a product and the customer then wanted it. A classic example is mp3, which emerged from research activities and became an innovation after many years. In industrial R&D and pre-development, the situation is often similar. Of course, some customer desires, requirements and suggestions are also taken on to consider what one could do with them.
THE SUCCESSFUL APPROACH: INNOVATION Outside-In
Innovation sets the goal of market success at the very beginning. Work is organized specifically around creating solutions that solve existing problems. It is therefore a matter of creating added value for the customer in a targeted manner and in the shortest possible time. Therefore, innovation cannot simply be regarded solely as R&D. In addition to a technical solution, innovation requires at least:
- Insights into the wishes and needs of customers and users
- Insights into competitor products in the market and expected in the future
- Understanding of the economic viability of new products and technologies
- Successful marketing and communication of new offers
- Strategies for pricing, market positioning, product piloting, cannibalization of own products, product management and business model design
IN TECHNOLOGY INNOVATION, INSIDE-OUT AND OUTSIDE-IN COMPLEMENT EACH OTHER
Research and development can therefore be a component of successful innovation, but it does not have to be. In technology innovation, R&D is certainly usually an issue, it is just:
- more focused
- more extensive
- and with a higher probability of success
What exactly does Innovation Consulting do for Technology Innovation?
Consulting is like a visit to the doctor. Before it happens, it’s hard to say what will help. You have to undergo some examination. Of course, there are still typical cases:
- Cracking the tough nuts: quickly creating solutions and concepts that have not yet been discovered and no one has patented yet.
- Evaluating the market opportunities of technology innovations and prioritizing innovation projects: Developers can do it all. Just not all at the same time 🙂
- Innovation Team Kick-Off: The right start increases the chances of success, reduces effort and promotes self-motivated drive in the team.
- New fields of application for existing technologies: Your skills and technologies are also needed in other markets. We show you where.
- Mentoring and Sparring: Innovation Coaching helps selectively where things get stuck and where good advice is expensive. By experienced coached for experts.
- Repeatable innovation successes: together, we develop an effective innovation process that fits into your process landscape.
- Find the gap and conquer the niche: determining benchmarking and positioning for technology innovations before a lot of work goes into development.
- All-round support and success guarantee: Guided innovation project execution combining your experts and our experience in technology innovation projects.
In many cases, innovation consulting can provide the necessary impetus for successful technology innovation. As experienced innovation consultants TOM SPIKE’S experts support and accompany technology companies in creating innovations – for more success and a unique position in the market.
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