Flow of IP Knowledge & Patent Intelligence Through a Organization

The European Patent Academy did an insightful presentation Patent & Innovation Management at Istanbul at the start of this month. While the presentation covers a wider topic, a single slide on the innovation process stands out to demonstrate the importance of having a robust IP knowledge management system in place to ensure the flow of information along side the process.

The innovation process involves:

Creation of Ideas >> Project Design >> Project Development >> Production >> Market Launch

In any innovation driven business each of these areas can be further broken down into multiple activities which revolve around the development and management of intellectual property including activities like filing for new patents, protecting IP assets, maneuvering through competitors patents, strategic product development and more. However the value of right information is critical throughout the cycle. IP knowledge and intelligence functions as a support pillar right from creation of ideas to marketing the product and right through the product life-cycle.

The entire innovation process is supported and seen through by multiple departments and functions within the company. Its a combined effort of research, thinkers, designers, developers, legal professionals, finance, marketing, strategy and others and each of them must rely on IP intelligence to guide them through their roles in the innovation process. Having an in-house IP Knowledge Management platform helps since IP knowledge, access to it and ability to use it well is a common requirement across each department who has a role in this process. With such systems a company can offer a common knowledge platform that can be leveraged across the board. Along with patents even scientific literature like journals and other publications can be processed to provide intelligence on markets, customers, technology, processes, business strategies, risks, opportunities and competitors which can aid everyone involved in the innovation process.

The efficient flow of IP data and intelligence within an organization can fuel better innovation and translate into more gains for businesses

Incremental Innovation – Pushing The Boundaries Of Product Development

We often look at research and development as a function which relies on very extensive knowledge of what exists around us and then looking for ways to improve on it and take it up a notch. This is echoed in a brilliant post I recently read by Gord Hotchkiss titled “Predicting Innovation” where he says:

Great innovation builds on what comes before it. This lines up with something I have long believed – there is no such thing as revolutionary innovation, just a series of incremental evolutionary innovations that at some point reaches a tipping point and appears to be revolutionary. I’ve used the iPhone as an example before.

Great Innovation does not require people to make radical changes in beliefs or behavior – Again, with incremental innovation, the market must understand the innovation and relate it to something they’re used to. The iPhone made smartphones smarter, more fun and more useful. It didn’t require us to make a great leap of

The same applies to just about any industry whether pharmaceuticals, healthcare, automobiles or technology. Every breakthrough product has been a result of extensive research and understanding of what has already been developed by others in the field and making incremental improvements which can often translate into a considerable jump forward.

Acquiring and managing information and knowledge is a large part of the incremental innovation process and having the right systems in place can support this process to great degree. Access to the right technical papers, patent information and related data open up avenues to increase the knowledge base one has to work with. And that leads to a common problem today – Information overload. How you manage all the information, create data points from assimilation of the information then bring out insights is as important as having access to the information.

Therein comes the need for knowledge mining solutions that help you unlock insights from the masses of data with ease and efficiency and further also help in overall managing the information so that you can quickly refer back to it at a later period of time. We recently referred to such a solution as – intellectual property knowledge management solutions in our Enterprise Edition Solution Brief. The  ‘flow of’ insights from IP data is critical to the R&D process is setting up the right processes with a robust system in place can help them focus more on the most important component of incremental innovation mentioned above- “Improving On It”. This is after all where abilities to make a difference come in and innovative skills are rewarded.

Improving on what is known is where the focus of product development should be instead of re-inventing what is already known. With the help of the right knowledge solutions which can accelerate the information management process, product development teams know where the boundaries are and can redirect their energies towards pushing these boundaries forward. Isn’t that the key to breakthrough developments?

Innovation and R&D Picks Up

As companies leave the worst of the global recession behind them and economies with the help of stimulus packages from their respective governments are starting to pick up again there is acceleration in R&D and innovation as well.  News and blog posts in the innovation realm look positive with more frequent stories of spending on R&D is gradually picking up. Reports suggested that investment on R&D during the recession did increase even during the recession although at a lower rate than previous years. This post by Mark J Perry titled Despite Recession, Innovation Is Alive and Well. In the post Mark reveals

“In the face of a severe global recession, the world’s 1,000 largest publicly traded corporate research and development spenders increased R&D budgets in 2008, affirming the critical importance of innovation to their corporate strategies, according to Booz & Company’s Global Innovation 1000, the global management consulting firm’s fifth annual analysis of global innovation spending. R&D spending at these firms rose 5.7% in 2008, a slower rate of growth than the prior year’s 10% increase, but in line with the group’s 6.5% increase in worldwide sales. More than two-thirds of the companies included in this year’s Global Innovation 1000 maintained or increased R&D spending in 2008, even though a third of the companies reported a financial loss for the year.

However during the downturn almost every business had to look into it’s processes and make changes that would help see them through this rough financial period and whatever those changes were, they are not likely to go away in the near future. Mergers and Acquisitions in IP pickedup as many smaller firms facing closure had their IP up for sale. While some large businesses were also looking at trimming their patent portfolios others with a larger cash reserves were busy aggregating portfolios that were valuable and available for pennies to the dollar. Many IP departments were forced to look at operational efficiencies and as to how they can save time and cost and achieve better output. Innovation and R&D are no exceptions to this. Although organizations know that innovation is key to secure future success and will continue to invest in R&D, they are also likely to continue to look for ways to improve their R&D processes and innovate smart rather than by pouring capital into it.

Smarter innovation practices can be through using online collaboration platforms and getting customers more involved in the process. It can be through seeking strategic partnerships with other organizations working towards similar technologies to share R&D costs and speed up efforts. It could be through improving patent information sharing systems and having access to better information, making smarter, better calculated decisions and avoiding mistakes that can cost time and money. The possibilities are plenty. What is left to do is find out how to innovate smarter and strengthen the process from the inside and make it more efficient. After all innovation needs to work towards creating revenue and advantages for the business and not be perceived as a cost center or financial black hole.

Perhaps the recession in many ways helped organizations pause and take a look at how they were functioning and pushed everyone to seek improved ways to go about it. Though the pressure has eased, hopefully, the will to keep improving and making R&D more efficient will not fade away too quickly.