Innovation in the Business-2-Business (B2B) world has generally been challenging and with the faster cycles of innovation and new business models, this market of the B2B, has been facing the pressure to innovate faster, cheaper and more valuable. A large section of the market feels that B2B companies typically do not innovate enough, or are slow, or don’t take alternative routes to innovation. This is more a misconception on the first point (innovation not being sufficient) than the truth, perhaps because B2C companies have a larger reach and “face” in the market to make news public ‘aloud’. But B2B typically has longer development cycles as compared to a B2C company, which means they inherently are risk averse or are slower to move toward open innovation.
The value of open innovation and crowdsourcing have been mentioned earlier but often noticed in B2B companies is that these concepts are shrugged off as ‘easier for B2C since it’s about consumers talking about you’. In truth, this is clearly not the case. It is about gathering ideas from anyone in the ecosystem and integrating it with your capabilities – a thinking more B2B companies are realizing. B2B companies are less aggressive in selling or coming up with radically new products, and hence the buy-in from executives, a clear innovation strategy and engagement of internal and external environment are some key points any B2B company should solve.
B2B’s have an advantage – they already have “communities”, hence the marriage between current and potential partners becomes much simpler. Breaking it down further, modularising challenges and finding the right platform (ideapoke.com) will actually open the marketplace wide open. The rise of social media alongside new technologies puts B2B companies concerns to rest here! Looking at technology, human intervention as well as outscoring, B2B companies can help not reinvent the wheel and look at more cross-pollination solutions for higher success. Harnessing creativity and keeping the team engaged with tasks significantly helps productivity. However, the real advantage lies in Intellectual Property (IP) and co-development or New Product Development (NPD) due to open innovation thereby positively impacting the top line and bottom-line revenues.
Benefits and need for Open Innovation and crowdsourcing in the B2B marketplace are many. The points above are only a fraction. We’ve seen multiple B2B players with open innovation initiatives available. Example Cisco, DSM, HP, Shell, Xerox
Companies have other open-innovation-like initiatives and although some are smaller than the rest, it’s a positive sign on the momentum in this topic. Open Innovation in the B2B space has work going on, but there’s an untapped potential still to be explored and filled. It’s time to reap the benefits before others join the bandwagon.