Innovation and its crucial role in a company’s growth and development are of nothing new. The most successful companies in history have achieved greatness through radically new products and services, and altered profoundly the market and industry landscape in their time. Their competitiveness afterwards was also bolstered through technological upgrades or new value propositions around their core product or service. But now, their dominance is threatened by the complexity of their technological ecosystem.
What is new in our time today is the unprecedented rate at which new technologies and new products are introduced and developed. A company used to have time to adapt to the evolution of the technological key success factors. Now that the innovation cycle has shortened and intensified with more and more disruptions, a company can no longer wait around for other players to get there first. In most cases, it will be too late: generating new concepts and developing capacities in-house often result in a slow time-to-market.
By not putting in the effort to assess the potential of a technology preemptively, a company risks being overtaken by future disruptors and missing out on major business opportunities.
Techno Push as a solution
This problem has led innovation management researchers to develop a new practice called Techno Push, aiming at exploring the impact or potential applications of a certain technology on business. This practice is the opposite of Market Pull – when companies develop a new solution to a problem from the market place.
Take laser as a technology for example. When it was developed, its main applications were linked to its performance in measurement. It was mainly used for spectrometry, interferometry or radar.
In 1962, a dermatologist, named Leon Goldman, realized that their directivity, their precision and their monochromaticity could also be taken advantage of to treat skin specific areas precisely. A whole new field of medical applications opened up for this technology: 600 M$ market in 2015 that makes up for almost 10% of the global laser market.
This example illustrates a problem that the Techno Push practice addresses: how can a company identify new applications of a technology – just as Goldman did, before other players claim the market as their own?
How to identify new unexplored applications of a technology before other players?
3 commonly-observed bad practices
Promising as it is, many companies failed to tap in the power of Techno Push by applying bad practices.
Most companies we have worked with used to try and develop a Proof of concept based on the technology for the usage that has been unanimously accepted within the company.
By doing so, they were sure to address the field of application with the biggest potential. This allowed them to secure internal support around the project. It’s a rational approach but an underperforming one.
Has it occurred to you that your company is only digging into the most obvious use cases of a new technology? Does it seem like everyone is developing the same applications at the same time?
By limiting the exploration of an application to the ones that are the most obvious to your company’s experts, you are probably missing out on the most original and disruptive one. Eventually, this practice might put your company’s future at risk in the long term.
By developing the most obvious use cases of a new technology, companies might risk missing out the most original and disruptive applications
Another bad practice we have often witnessed is when companies invest a lot of resources in the development of a new technology – based on the validation of some foreseen applications. It happens when one key expert of the company has very high hopes for a new technology. The expert then convinces the key decision makers that the company should allocate a lot of resources to develop it.
Have you ever spent a significant amount of your budget on some technology-of-the-moment for an application, which turned out to be irrelevant as the market was not mature enough?
Then, you are not alone as companies often end up investing a great amount of money and time onto one single technology and application, instead of diversifying its exploration paths.
We believe, on the other hand, in the golden rule: “The more technologies you screen, the better”. This assures you to have a clear overview of available technologies instead of sticking to some gut feeling or personal judgement. Eventually, you will be saving time and effort, especially in the early phase of exploration.
To be clear, a company does not need to be the leader and invest a lot of resources on every single high potential application of a new technology. Yet it should be in the position to have identified these applications, in order to prepare and react when necessary.
« The more technologies you screen, the better »
The third bad practice that we have identified is when companies are reluctant to develop new applications of a new technology for their clients right away.
Innovation managers tend to hesitate to share their very uncertain concepts with their clients, due to the fear of hurting the brand image or the concern that this interaction will complicate the project.
Have you ever launched a new product or service perfectly fit with what you thought your market was but that eventually didn’t address your client’s specific needs?
At Stim, we strongly believe innovation managers shouldn’t let pass this opportunity. Testing concepts with future users in the early stages enable companies to refine their opinion on the actual values of the technology and discover new ones in order to enrich the fields of applications of a technology.
Moreover, by establishing co-operative interactions with its clients and identifying key contacts within them, the company will create reusable capabilities for future innovation projects.
Get past the fear of hurting the brand image: test your concepts with future users in the early stages!
How to better deploy Techno Push?
All these bad practices led Stim to develop a new tailor-made approach for Techno Push practice. This approach includes new methodologies and frameworks for screening, prioritizing and designing high potential applications of a technology, within limited financial investment and time frame.
One of these approaches was designed for Dassault Aviation to identify high potential applications of Drones for their activities.
Prior to the start of our collaboration, they had identified 55 use cases around a technology. Some of them showed considerable potential, but they were still concerned with one question: what if they have missed some untapped potential that might lead to disruption or a strong lever for differentiation?
Thanks to our methodologies, and through a process that lasted 2 months and mobilized 5 internal experts, we were able to identify 155 new high potential use cases.
A mix of previously identified use cases and new ones are currently being instructed by Dassault’s innovation managers, with an ambition to launch new products and services within the next few years.
By putting a special focus on the training of the teams, Dassault teams are now ready to use it autonomously for any new technology potential they might want to assess.
Techno Push has proven itself to be a crucial innovation practice, especially in the era of intensive innovation. We believe companies, more than ever, should be equipped with powerful tools and methodologies in Techno Push to anticipate their future market and reinvent their activity in time.
You would like to discuss our approach to Techno Push and the case of Dassault Aviation?
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