Today’s digital economy has got everyone scrambling to innovate and each and every sector is desperately seeking for breakthrough ideas that will help them rise above the rest. It is a generally known fact that however innovative an idea may be, it must first and foremost resonate with the needs and the requirements of the consumer, delivering them value.

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For the past two decades, the manner in which firms approach innovation has been altered drastically by digital design tools. Today, an “innovation landscape” sees new collective innovation and new participants discovering new markets which are prmpted by digital design and social networking communities. This creates a rich environment for innovation. While there are plenty of opportunities involved, there are also challenges ahead which can be overcome by adopting several methods which allow organizations to achieve a competitive advantage. Below are few methods of overcoming these challenges and fighting to the top to the best of the company’s advantage.

The network method

This method is increasingly being sighted at specialist firms where close networks of vendors and trust based sharing behavior has been established. Similar to communities, a special characteristic that sets it apart is the high performance product design expertise that is noted in this type of firm. In this method, one must take into account the entire picture rather than the collective of some parts. The expertise of an extended range of disciplines and advanced digital tools comes together in this method to make way for the emergence of solutions that are entirely new which would not have emerged in a traditional organizational setting. This method presents firms the opportunity to change its existing structures to create brand new organizational boundaries along with the introduction of new incentive structures.

Developing and managing these processes poses as a challenge in this method. Due to the increased complicity of the setting, this requires a more intense level of coordination which involves orchestrating the information flow between the designing party and the users, building social norms and managing the actual work involved which in themselves are challenges in themselves.

The Venture method

This sector encompasses of the thinkers, the entrepreneurs and also individuals working inside corporations who amass their resources together via intermediate services which provide the specialized tools to create something new. Entry barriers have been considerably lowered by the evolvement of technology and the digital design tools and therefore this method sees a large number of individuals as participants. Established companies allow small individual teams to form and develop new ideas and subject them for testing at a minimal cost in order to implement this method.

The challenge in this method is for the teams to identify and assemble the resources necessary for the concepts within a limited period of time. It is quite difficult to protect such businesses through intellectual property due to the fact that these markets move fast and it is difficult to keep up. Here, the most prominent competitive advantage can be seen as its high velocity.

 The Specialist

In this specific method, product performance is what is being pushed giving birth to new products and services with the help of digital design. The products that are thus developed are high reward – high risk products which are developed in-house by formal organizations with in-house resources. Some popular examples of such companies can be named as Apple, Boeing and Volkswagen.

One challenge this model poses is that in order to avoid imitations from competitors, the technical capabilities must be sourced in-house. In order to do this, top talent has to be retained and this is always a challenge. At the same time, this increases a company’s competitive advantage by cultivating the necessary talent inside. 

Community method

With low entry barriers and a trust-based manner of organizing, the community method often sees a large number of entrants. The decision making boundaries are not often set here as some business models depend on collaborating with like-minded strangers. In this factor, it can be seen as similar to open innovation. Quirky.Inc can be shown as one such example. This form of innovation tends to create closer ties with the customers which also results in new ideas, creating new opportunities and increased user engagement which are positive factors for a business altogether.

The biggest challenge in this mode is for the managers engaged in this method to capture the value added contributions of these teams, maintain and incentivize them. This can be difficult as these teams are comprised of large numbers of community members.