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?