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Ten Innovation Trends of 2010


By Mark E. Atkins

In speaking with strategic innovation and R&D leaders at companies across industries and across the globe, I have been afforded the unique opportunity to hear the challenges – both internal and external – 10 Innovation Trends of 2010that global companies are facing relative to innovation.

It is based on these interactions that I formulated the following list of the top innovation trends, which I first presented at Invention Machine's inaugural Power to Innovate user conference event back in 2008 and recently revisited in this year's user conference keynote address  - The New Innovation Economy:

  1. 2010 will kick off the Innovation Decade.
    The Innovation Olympics have begun on a global basis – companies as well as countries are vying for supremacy in this innovation race in the decade of 2010.  This is a critical decade and the strategies and actions in place in this decade are going to impact us for the next forty years taking us to 2050.
  2. The emergence of BIC (Brazil, India, China) in the Global Innovation Economy.
    The innovation landscape is changing. The emergence of companies in these countries – as well as these countries themselves – means companies need to take fast action to analyze and define growth plans for emerging markets to be served now and in the future.  
  3. IP monetization vs. IP quantification.
    Amassing patents for patents' sake is not a meaningful measure of success.  Instead, companies are looking at the value their IP delivers?  Are we generating revenue? Are we opening new markets? What are our returns on our IP?
  4. Product obsolescence of 50-70% will occur by 2012.
    Companies are faced with products – in many cases entire product portfolios - in maturing markets that need to be repurposed into new markets or replaced with new products representing new revenue streams.
  5. The impact of the Baby Boomers exodus.
    In the US, with a huge percentage of today’s workforce will becoming eligible for retirement, companies are facing an unprecedented demographic challenge:  the largest generational turnover we have ever experienced.  Companies must act quickly to preserve and leverage corporate expertise that would otherwise be lost through attrition, retirement or outsourcing.
  6. Time to market – in half the time.
    Companies must significantly cut the time it takes to get product to a commercialized state.  Speeding time to market will be key to winning in the new innovation economy.
  7. Develop & connect – global collaboration.
    Building a strong culture of collaboration is vital to fostering productive innovation.  Companies must foster collaboration amongst employees by providing them with a practical collaboration framework which allows them to connect without the need to leave the context of their innovation work. 
  8. Product differentiation vs. commoditization.
    New and differentiated products will be the primary source of revenue growth in the new innovation economy.
  9. Radical engineering vs. incremental engineering.
    Incremental improvements to existing products to improve performance or reduce costs continues to be a must.  But to drive new revenue streams and compete in the new innovation economy, companies must look to radical engineering to bring about better performing and more competitively differentiated products.
  10. The evolution of the Innovation Intelligence Ecosystem.
    There is a real need for knowledge enablement for innovation. Companies need to design an Innovation Intelligence Ecosystem – a framework for delivering precise and critical information from a variety of sources that lead to increased productivity and accelerated innovation.

What innovation trends are you seeing and what do you see changing in 2011?