Innovation and it’s role in benefiting a company’s bottom line is definitely the theme of the day when it comes to the IT department’s relationship with other areas of the business. One principle argument is that these days no one company can claim that it has all the most intelligent people working for it, and so looking outside the business for ideas and technologies is the way to go to allow you to release products to market and do it quicker than it would otherwise have been possible. Just as important is looking at the technologies your company has developed and is not using. These could be licenced to other companies who can leverage them successfully and lead to a revenue stream for you.
These points form the backbone of the arguments of this book – something the author calls Open Innovation. The book looks austere and dry from the outside but is actually quite easy to read considering the subject matter. Each chapter makes a different point and does it succinctly – whether it is theory or examples, you get the impression that the book is well structured and thought out.
The author makes it clear that these ideas are still very much in their infancy and actually paying more than just lip service to this is in fact very difficult – in practice there are very few examples, and those featured such as IBM and Proctor and Gamble have had to work very hard and learn some valuable lessons. Often they have taken this path through necessity rather than choice.
The book does try to be practical and excels when going back to basics to look at what a business model actually is and how you can look at yours to determine where your company lies on the path to Open Innovation. It highlights the risks that occur at different levels along the path. The author even manages to keep himself in check when looking at the companies that have successfully made the leap.
There are a number of questions that are posed for you to think about – mainly because if you are convinced by the arguments then you will be an early adopter and will benefit from the insight. For example:
- Can you afford to ignore the innovation opportunities in your industry?
- Could you add more value for your customers if you did so?
- Is your business model enabling you to do this, or is it getting in your way?
… and then there is the old style emotional blackmail:
- What would you do if your competitors started opening up their business models before you did?
The impression you get at first is that the book is going to be a repeat of Wikinomics, but it goes way further than that and has a different audience in mind. Wikinomics is a good place to start for anybody and complements this nicely, but if you have your own business or you hold a position of influence then this is definitely the next step.