Every organization and large company faces an existential threat from upstart competitors, changing consumer preferences, and emerging technologies. Since 2001, 52% of the Fortune 500 has disappeared. Furthermore, since 1955, the average lifespan of the Fortune 500 company has decreased from 75 to 15 years. Disruption is no longer an 'if' but a 'when'.
In response, companies of all sizes have sought to create open innovation programs that help them stay ahead of emerging technologies and protect their business through integrating these technologies into their product offerings.
But what is the best way to structure an innovation program?
Create Centralized Teams and Processes
For open innovation efforts to be successful, having a core, centralized scouting team that serves as the nexus for all scouting efforts in the organization is key. This can take the form of a part-time or full-time scouting team, so long as their scouting activities are specifically delineated within their weekly tasks.
Teams where scouting is not a key focus will fail, since if team members are not measured on their performance, they will not put forth sufficient effort. Even if the team is small, ensuring that every member is an expert in their technology and product area allows the team to easily identify viable technologies and potential opportunities.
Furthermore, teams succeed when they have a direct process, procedure, and buy-in from all levels of an organization. Organizational buy-in at the highest levels allows access to resources and creates an accountability for the team, as well as, demonstrating to upper management that the open innovation effort is serious and directly impacts the company's bottom line
Creating a streamlined procedure of how opportunities will be evaluated, who will evaluate them, and what criteria are needed to move technologies to the next Stage-Gate is important to timely moving opportunities through the pipeline and/or killing them entirely.
Develop Goals and Targets
In order to be effective, narrowing the range of technologies and opportunities helps teams maintain focus and manage an attainable amount of opportunities. This prevents teams from being swamped by potential opportunities, as well as filters opportunities that are not a good fit for the company.
Tight technology criteria allows tech scouting teams to deputize the rest of the company as part of the scouting effort by communicating the list of target technologies. The smaller the list, the more effectively a company can use the whole of its labor force in its tech scouting program.
Update and Share Results
In order to secure and maintain executive support for an open innovation program, it is important to send regular updates on progress in the technology pipeline. This is important, as it familiarizes the executive team with the function and effectiveness of the tech scouting team. This creates more confidence in the effort and maintains the buy-in that is key to a successful long-term program.
Maintaining clear reporting and accountability can help with this, as it creates objective performance indicators that can be used to measure progress and identify improvements. By creating a digital workflow and meaningful metrics, teams can have clear goals and expectations of their performance.
Pick the Right Software Partner
Serious tech scouts need serious tech scouting teams. Open innovation software allows organizations to effective scale across multiple business units, integrate with existing systems, and secure their sensitive data from unauthorized users. This is crucial to creating a process that is repeatable and engaging enough to stimulate collaboration across the organization. More importantly, open innovation software creates accountability by tracking activity within the system and transparency by defining metrics.
Open innovation software also serves as a knowledge database that saves time and allows for data retention. Opportunities do not come into a company through a single channel, meaning that multiple teams will re-evaluate the same technology multiple times without realizing. Knowledge databases prevent teams from wasting time and enable effective analysis of tech scouting efforts.