16 November 2010 | Jennifer Ernst
Just how do novel technologies evolve from concept to market? Let's take the example of printed electronics (and its evolution at PARC), which may provide some insight into this question. Besides displays, printed electronics enables new applications from lighting and photovoltaics, to RFID, batteries, memory, and sensors. Given the diversity of applications, how do we move from the fundamental research that unlocks new possibilities, to the market impact of addressing what's needed? Especially when you don't really have a market, but an enabling technology. Especially when each of the players in the market has different technical demands, different distribution and support requirements, and different adoption challenges. And especially when considering that for enabling technologies, there’s a special challenge – you have to choose which markets to concentrate your efforts on, while remaining flexible enough to change as market conditions dictate. So how does one move from establishing expertise and demonstrating feasibility, towards commercial impact?
13 April 2010 | Jennifer Ernst
Technology scouting has been happening for many years. But as companies increasingly look outside for opportunities, it becomes even more important to have clear practices associated with each step of the process. One popular technology scouting framework to address this is "Want-Find-Get-Manage”, which I've expanded for the purpose of sharing advice. And while I’ve written this talking largely about the formal technology scouting function, in reality, the principles apply for many people that help keep their companies connected to the rest of the world. As companies are developing more dependencies on external partnering, the models and standards are still very much emerging, which makes this a wonderful time for learning from each other.
28 January 2010 | Jennifer Ernst
Disruptive innovation is about market impact. No business model or new technology is intrinsically disruptive. It's the application in the market, and the reaction of the consumer, that determines whether something is disruptive or not.
20 January 2010 | Jennifer Ernst
Technology scouting has been happening for many years. Yet the models for how best to find and secure opportunities are still emerging as companies increasingly look outside. In this post, I share advice and principles for effective technology scouting, including defining The Why (are we scouting?) and The What (technologies and specific technology characteristics are we looking for?) Furthermore, scope is a tricky thing: if a scouting team's "find" mandate is too narrow, you're likely to miss valuable options; but if it's too broad, you end up exploring too many options that are never going to fly. How should a company assess its organizational capacity to absorb, define its time horizon for expected impct, and identify the technical needs it is scouting for?
6 October 2009 | Jennifer Ernst
I've often heard "brainstorming" touted as a way to make an organizational culture more innovation-friendly. No argument there: brainstorms, if well-constructed, can be a great source of new ideas. But the problem for many companies isn't a lack of ideas. More often, it's a lack of high-quality ideas and poor practices for supporting the transformation from idea to innovation -- i.e., the implementation. In these cases, open-ended idea generation isn't likely to lead to organizational wins. These organizations need to focus on improving the quality of ideas and the mechanisms for selecting and supporting them going forward. Brainstorms are an interesting technique to look at, because they represent a microcosm of organizational behaviors... the behaviors that support or undermine innovation.
9 September 2009 | Jennifer Ernst
Next week, I'll be moderating a panel on "Creating Value with a Smart Technology Scouting, Acquisition, and Licensing Strategy" at Growth, Innovation, and Leadership (a Frost & Sullivan global congress on corporate growth). Since I'll write up the discussion after the event (and, of course, post here what I can), let me know what questions you want answered -- what would like to hear more about? What questions about acquiring technology from external sources are top of mind for you?
27 August 2009 | Jennifer Ernst
"Open Communication" is frequently cited as a necessity in successfully working with partners. But in my experience, opening up to the depth of communication required for successful open innovation is often a scary proposition for some companies. Should you share your strategy? Yes, with deliberate purpose.
2 July 2009 | Jennifer Ernst
I recently enjoyed moderating an almost rowdy dialogue on Building World-Class Innovation Teams, as part of a Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXChange event. For someone immersed in innovation at PARC, it's always intriguing to hear the viewpoints from those who aren't as lucky.
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