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Friday, April 14, 2006

Innovation At The Centerstage Of Business Success

Innovation is the hottest topic today, after all it intersects business, technology and society.BusinessWeek & The Boston Consulting Group have published their second annual ranking of the 25 most innovative companies . Sam Palmisano is quoted as saying,"The way you will thrive in this environment is by innovating - innovating in technologies, innovating in strategies, innovating in business models". Today, innovation is about much more than new products. It is about reinventing business processes and building entirely new markets that meet untapped customer needs. Most important, as the Internet and globalization widen the pool of new ideas, it's about selecting and executing the right ideas and bringing them to market in record time. In the 1990s, innovation was about technology and control of quality and cost. Today, it's about taking corporate organizations built for efficiency and rewiring them for creativity and growth. Some of the key companies finding a place in the list have been trailblazers in fostering innovation:

- Business model innovation created by Virgin Group Ltd., which applies its hip lifestyle brand to ho-hum operations such as airlines, financial services, and even health insurance.

- Process innovation by Southwest Airlines ,a whiz at wielding operational improvements to outfly its competitors.

- Apple used no fewer than seven types of innovation to launch iPod ā€“ that included networking (a novel agreement among music companies to sell their songs online), business model (songs sold for a buck each online), and branding (how cool are those white ear buds and wires?). Consumers love the ease and feel of the iPod, but it is the simplicity of the iTunes software platform that turned a great MP3 player into a revenue-gushing phenomenon.

- Toyota known for its manufacturing process innovation is now seen as a product innovator. With its Value Innovation strategy, rather than work with suppliers just to cut costs of individual parts, it is delving further back in the design process to find savings spanning entire vehicle systems.

- P&Gā€™s connect & develop model of co-opting stakeholders in fostering innovation

The survey finds that managers tended to look to the U.S. and Canada for idea generation, while a lower percentage looked to Europe for the same tasks. Confirming the prediction that innovation shall get cheaper, the survey finds that India and China are still seen as centers for product development. An excellent article ā€“ in these times of intensified competition, only focussed innovation fostered globally, exceling in all dimensions of idea, timing, execution in most aspects of business is the only way to ensure business success.

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