The majority of people agree Open Innovation is a process to go beyond internal R&D resources, and enlist the support of outside help for input and ideas. This could be for finding solutions to challenging issues, new product idea generation, or to innovate on a wider scale that could ultimately disrupt entire business sectors. Some people also say open innovation has existed for less than 20 years since Henry Chesbrough coined the phrase in 2003. However, let’s not overlook that even a simple Suggestion Box in a staff canteen allows any employee to suggest ideas or offer observations related to other departments and functions beyond their own. What we address here is open innovation in the age of digital mass communication. We each have opportunities to instantly communicate with people all around the world, and access more information than we would have ever imagined just a few years ago.
High levels of personal connectivity and access to knowledge has already transformed what were traditional ways of doing things in numerous industries and business sectors. The availability, in fact the overload, of so much information caused many organizations to steer away from a hierarchical structure, where information was passed to a limited number of people to review it and make decisions. What replaced it is often a flatter structure of people working in self-managing teams, with information gathering, analysis and dissemination handled by more people. More recently, this now includes automated machine learning applied to mass data, driven by artificial intelligence.
Breaking down traditional departmental silo-behaviors within organizations is often a first step towards open innovation to accelerate idea generation and finding solutions. The UK supermarket chain Waitrose has gathered 4,000 innovation ideas from employees, implemented 13% of them, and raised customer satisfaction levels while saving money. An idea to ask customers if they want a receipt rather than automatically handing them out began saving £450,000 a year in reduced paper. The extension of this, and where open innovation is particularly BOLD, is to welcome input from customers, suppliers and same sector experts, who are familiar with your business and its products. To then gather transferable input from experts in other business and industry sectors, and also involve researchers, academics and entrepreneurs, takes idea and innovation generation much further than the limitations of the classic, secretive R&D closed innovation model.
This article was first published by Crowdsoucing Week, please continue reading it at https://crowdsourcingweek.com/blog/what-is-open-innovation/.