Innovation Radar: Recognizing Trends and Effectively Managing Innovations

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Innovations are much, much more than just “new ideas.” Innovation speed is a key factor for a company’s economic success. But how can I stay up to speed about relevant trends, technologies, solutions, and up-and-coming startups without setting up a strategic team assigned to foresee what is coming? And how can I distinguish between the trends that are important for me and empty hype?

These are precisely the questions that concerned the Detecon Innovation Institute (DII) in San Francisco, and it has developed a solution called Innovation Radar. This instrument makes it possible to structure, analyze specifically, and assess available information on trends, risks, or startups and to use the results to determine pioneering strategies and innovation projects. We spoke to Philipp Schett, Managing Consultant at Detecon in San Francisco, who described to us exactly how the tool works.

Why is trend scouting so important for companies?

Philipp Schett: We are living in exponential times. Technological advances are driving innovation, ecosystems are developing, and the conduct of significant research has long since left the exclusive domain of large companies. Boundaries between industries are becoming murky, and innovations from startups can throw the business models of established companies into chaos within an extremely short time. If companies recognize what is happening at an early enough stage, these fast changes are often accompanied by opportunities. The responses may be partnerships with young companies, the development of the right new products, or acquisitions. Regardless of what innovation strategy a company pursues, it is essential to maintain a clear overview of these new developments so that the right decisions pointing to the future can be made with greater accuracy.

What is the greatest challenge in trend scouting?

Successful trend and innovation management is extraordinarily important for companies, but it involves a lot of effort as well. First of all, a company must have clarity about its innovation strategy. From this starting point, it must define the search fields in which it wants to conduct trend scouting. It is important to build up a network of scouts and to identify and regularly query sources, databases, and partners. As their next step, companies must find a way to view these data and define a catalog of criteria that is used to assess the trends and opportunities that have been identified. Finally, this information must be disseminated throughout the company and integrated into the innovation processes.

Are traditional tools no longer adequate to accomplish this?

Maintaining an overview of the steadily rising number of information sources is an enormous challenge. Relying solely on PowerPoint and Excel for this purpose is hopelessly behind the times. These traditional tools are neither dynamic nor flexible enough to keep up with the speed of innovations in today’s world. Moreover, they do not have the functionality to enable their collaborative use in an organization, and that makes them unsuitable for the innovation process.

What does Detecon’s “Innovation Radar” have to offer?

When our clients use the Innovation Radar, they obtain access to the key competencies of our trend and startup scouting, which we operate continuously with the aid of our employees in the innovation centers of the world. Companies can take advantage of these services to improve their innovation management process; thanks to the up-to-date data about relevant topics, potential partners as well as risks can be discerned at an early stage. We believe this is especially critical for small and midsize businesses. Creating their own scouting system at a high level of quality requires a lot of time and effort – yet it is indispensable. The changes caused by digitalization are inescapable for all industries and must be actively managed even by midsize companies.

How does this work in daily practice?

We have succeeded in making our scouting expertise available in a user-friendly and dynamic form through our collaboration with ITONICS, a young company from Nuremberg and Berlin that specializes in the development of cloud-based tools for innovation management. The tool-based solution can be used in two ways: first, for the management and centralization of a company’s own content, and, second, as a “topic radar” that offers access to the latest trends in the fields of artificial intelligence, cyber-security and privacy, blockchain, and technological developments in the finance and insurance sector. We observe current trends and link them with exciting startups and inspiration for decision-makers, product managers, or innovation managers.

What can clients expect from you?

Thanks to our experience in innovation management in companies around the world, we are familiar with the issues that arise and know how to solve them. We guide our clients through the entire process, from trend scouting all the way through to the introduction of successful products. Our clients profit from our expert knowledge in the various fields, our methodological expertise regarding agile working and processes, and we have our worldwide innovation network in which we connect our clients with innovative partners around the globe.

What database is used as the foundation for the Innovation Radar?

Our network as well as our years of experience come into play here. We filter innumerable sources so that our clients do not waste time looking for the needle in the haystack. Our focus is on quality and individuality so that we can present to our clients precisely the innovations and partners that are truly relevant for them and their business.

Our presence in Silicon Valley is of decisive importance here as well, of course. This alone is what enables us to monitor the heartbeat of the times, to track down trends at an early stage, and to interconnect actively with the startup environment. In addition, we contribute our network with other innovation centers such as Berlin and Tel Aviv.

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