I spoke with innovation people from a big automotive manufacturer last week. We talked about the automotive industry and open innovation. They said that there is already lots of collaboration going on in their industry and that it resembles open innovation in same ways.
It was interesting to hear their views and having some understanding of their industry, I agreed with them. However, I also asked why we do not really hear about automotive companies in the open innovation community.
Perhaps they are not really doing open innovation? Could it be more about alliance management and open source than open innovation? Or is it just an industry that does not want to share their open innovation insights and experiences?
It is most likely the latter.
I think this is a good example of what is going on in several industries. Many companies already have some experience that looks like open innovation, but they have not yet viewed this as a strategic choice that can bring significant competitive advantages. It is not yet a process. It is just something that happens because it has been a way of working for a long period of time.
The interesting thing is which companies will first fully understand the full potential of open innovation and how this can create long-term competitive advantages.
What we will see is that one leading company gets it and then works hard to become the preferred partner of choice within the given industry. In this game, I would rather be the first mover than the fast follower since an open innovation implementation – if done right – is hard to copy for competitors.
A 6,12 or 18 month head start is crucial as this gives even more time for the first mover to become the preferred partner of choice. This is a position that is easier to defend once captured than trying to get to it in the first place.
Med-tech is an industry with an interesting development. Medtronic recently started some initiatives and they got nice publicity based on a few interviews and articles. I am confident they will continue to invest even more in their open innovation efforts. Why? What we see right now is that almost all companies that have embraced open innovation continue to invest even more. This was an interesting trend I noticed at CoDev and it serves as a good argument towards skeptics.
In the med-tech industry, the big question is whether the direct competitors to Medtronic will act now or let Medtronic run away. In many other industries, the big question is which company will take the lead…
It will be interesting to see what will happen in the automotive, med-tech and many other industries in the next 12 months.
Stefan Lindegaard is a speaker, network facilitator and strategic advisor who focus on the topics of open innovation, intrapreneurship and how to identify and develop the people who drive innovation