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In today’s ultra-competitive and fast-changing business environment, innovation distinguishes the winners from the laggards. Open innovation is playing a very important role in redefining the business models, innovation ecosystem of many organizations and is now recognized as a critical tool for accelerating growth. Technology scouting is the term used to identify emerging technologies; channel technologies related information into an organization and, in a corporate context, support the acquisition of technologies. The rapid pace of change in emerging technology markets heightens the importance of scouting for and incorporating technologies from the innovation ecosystem. This is easier to execute today with the advent of social networks, cloud technologies, and crowdsourcing.

Unlike traditional, “push-” based technology transfer, open innovation based Technology Scouting is intended to search outside the normal channels to find solutions for a company’s unmet technology need. Ideapoke has been developing and implementing social innovation marketplace and services that help companies access and scout for technologies from government laboratories, universities, and private sector sources and all this happens within the innovation platform

To Look inside or Outside

The fundamental difference between companies looking inside (internal R&D driving innovation in traditional organizational models) vs. looking outside (collaborating with technology partners) is that of cost and time. Very few companies have the time, resources and/or expertise to continually develop breakthroughs on their own. The days of internal labs conducting pure R&D are long gone.

Jeffrey Immelt, (Chairman & CEO, GE), said: “We very much believe that we are never going to invent everything inside the company and that we need to have the spirit of open innovation to be as good a technical company as we want to be.” GE’s investment in its Ecomagination program, which was launched in 2005, has generated a total of over $130 billion of revenue since then. Last year, it invested almost $2 billion in the program and got back $25 billion in revenue.

Leverage Crowdsourcing to look for potential partner

Social collaboration-based innovation makes it easier for companies to scout for their targeted partners right from their desks Connect + Develop (Procter and Gamble) was designed to stimulate and invite submissions from consumers, inventors and entrepreneurs through crowdsourcing and company-sponsored contests. An entrepreneurial new-business generator, FutureWorks (part of its Connect + Develop program) is set up to attract “fledgling businesses currently serving new market businesses” and transform them “into businesses that can scale to serve the mass market.”

Enterprises can leverage the experts from the crowd to

• Scout the universe of technology drivers, from start-ups to multinationals, for the most promising solutions that meet industry needs
• Rank technology providers across a range of key metrics to uncover the highest potential partners
• Navigate the existing relationships within the innovation ecosystem to select partners

Create an innovation Marketplace

To better serve the companies looking to acquire innovative solution (seekers) and help them find relevant and disruptive technologies, there is a need for innovation exchange/marketplace. This is only possible if both the seekers and the solvers are part of the same ecosystem/platform. For example, technology companies from around the world have set up offices in Silicon Valley to ‘scout’ local innovation and bring it to their home market.

To effectively scout for technologies and drive successful open innovation, a platform is required which can

• Structure company profiles for information and analysis on their technology and innovations
• Provide on-demand analysis and recommendations of technology experts
• Build an innovation map and rank potential partners for technology value and business fit

As we have seen, crowdsourcing and open innovation are accelerating technology scouting and adoption of innovation. Companies no more have to wait for years or expend a large amount of resources to find suitable technology partners who can help them with build innovative products and grow their revenues.

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