Connecting technology development with market opportunities

L ast week, I spent time with my Fraunhofer colleagues focusing on a particular challenge facing the pace and scale of innovation. The work in innovation management at Fraunhofer aligns well with the work we are doing at Purdue in the development of open, agile strategy. We are exploring how to combine these unique strengths into new approaches for technology and innovation management.

The challenges we are addressing arise from a series of driving forces:

Technology is continuously shifting faster than markets.– Market development inherently lags technology development.  There are many examples. Nylon was invented in the 1930’s, but it took decades before real markets developed, such as carpet in the 1950’s.

Technology change is accelerating and technologies are converging.– Traditional boundaries are blurring. Technologies are converging on their edges: example, MEMS and Micro-optics.

Open innovation is gaining popularity among businesses to design and manage the alignment of technology development with market opportunities.– To cope with the speed of technology development, firms are looking to “link and leverage” their technology assets.

Market development systems are engaging customers to co-create value and business models are moving toward networks and platforms.– Examples of Apple, Google and Amazon.

The movement toward open networks in both technology development and market development creates major management challenges.– Partner identification and selection, as well as IP management are creating major challenges.

Traditional strategic planning — linear, long term, costly and episodic — is not well suited managing dynamic conditions.–  Companies large and small have been abandoning traditional strategic planning since the mid-a990’s.

For companies, our challenge involves designing new solutions to manage these dynamic drivers. This challenge is felt most directly by small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) that do not have the resources in house to manage this complexity. What new solutions are possible? Both Fraunhofer and Purdue have been working not these issues; now we look to combine our efforts.

We are currently working on design criteria for potential solutions directed to SMEs.  If you are interested, stay tuned. We should have more to report in about 2 months time, if we can meet our internal milestones.

Ed Morrison is Director of the Purdue Agile Strategy Lab. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. For the past five or six years, he has been developing new, agile approaches to strategy in open, loosely joined networks, a discipline he calls Strategic Doing. Prior to starting his economic development work, Ed worked for Telesis, a corporate strategy consulting firm. In this position, he served on consulting teams for clients such as Ford Motor Company, Volvo, and General Electric. He conducted manufacturing cost studies in the U.S., Japan, Mexico, Canada, Italy, Sweden, and France. Ed started his professional career in Washington, D.C., where he has served as a legislative assistant to an Ohio Congressman, staff attorney in the Federal Trade Commission, and staff counsel in the US Senate. He holds a BA degree cum laude with honors from Yale University and MBA and JD degrees from the University of Virginia.

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