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How is the concept of innovation redefined after a look back at 2013? What do you see as the 2014 trends in innovation? 

While its true that technologies such as Big Data and OpenStack have their place as innovation trends on the rise, the trends that matter most to many companies are the latest methods and practices of innovation. 

For small businesses to enterprises to succeed this year, innovation must become your daily practice. Have a keen awareness that imagination sparks and drives creativity through your company’s innovation ecosystem. Success driving innovation requires us to employ exceptionally productive employees, driven by visionary leadership, and deploy impactful business processes.

“The first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation.” ~ President Obama

We are reminded by the authors in recent post at InnovationManagement.se, “Companies can create and sustain their competitive advantage in an uncertain world – if they put a premium on innovation.” What is that value or premium in your enterprise?

Lets look at the top 3 innovation trends for 2014:

1. The ‘Human capital’ investment

Human capital is at the core of the corporate innovation DNA. Based on revenue and profit-per-employee calculations, a focus on innovation produces 2 to 15 times the amount produced by firms that just focus on productivity. Because people play such a critical role in innovation, it makes sense that more successful companies are employee-centric. A new focus on human capital to sustain innovation is key according to a recent study from IBM, which shows that 71% of CEOs believe human capital is a KEY source of sustained economic value. Smart companies will focus on employees as their greatest source for sustained innovation value.

2. CEO’s seek collaboration across multiple industries

In the same IBM Global CEO Survey, Kenichiro Yamanishi, President and CEO of Mitsubishi Electric Corp. states “To innovate, we need to take in insights accumulated across various industries and knowledge generated by many different people”. In the United States, and cross the globe 2014 will be more collaborative cross-culturally and across multiple industries than ever before.

3. Our Improved Innovation Ecosystem 

Most companies measure the quality of their new innovative ideas by traditional measures such as net present value (NPV), or the usual return on investment (ROI). The use of net present value (NPV) to evaluate investment opportunities causes managers to underestimate the real returns and benefits of proceeding with investments in innovation.Plus, new ideas don’t tend to lend themselves to this analysis. How could we have accurately projected the market size for the Tablet before the iPad or hybrid automobiles before the Toyota Prius? As the key pillar for Human capital, and the ‘corporate innovation DNA’ in your enterprise, 2014 is the time to align your innovation ecosystem infrastructure – corporateculture, investments, leadership, and values – for complete innovation success.

Creating a challenging and stimulating environment

It is important to instill challenges, and stimulating conversations in your company’s innovation engine. Equally important is the ability for those around you to fail, with permission. Creating that environment, focusing on the Human capital DNA, cross-collaboration and improving your innovation ecosystem will make 2014 your the successful year ever for you and your organization!

I leave you with quote to consider while evaluating innovation in your company or enterprise:

“To stay vigorous, a company needs to provide a stimulating and challenging environment for all these types: the dreamer, the entrepreneur, the professional manager, and the leader. If it doesn't, it risks becoming yet another mediocre corporation.” ~ Howard Schultz



Posted by Rik Walters

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