Dr. Marcel Müller
January 4, 2023

How to build an Innovation Radar

Innovation is the driving force in any successful organization, allowing companies to remain at the top of their game and stand out from other competitors. However, with such a plethora of fresh ideas, technologies and inventions surfacing on a daily basis, it can be difficult for innovation managers to decide which ones are worthy of exploration, proof of concepts and investments. This is where the Innovation Radar steps into play: equipping them with all the necessary tools they need to make educated decisions.

At the Center for Deep Tech Innovation, we follow a methodology that funnels innovations in our pipeline and filters them. Our Innovation Radar has five steps:

  1. All innovation
  2. Relevant innovation
  3. Impactful innovation
  4. Proven Innovation
  5. Chosen Innovation

Let's have a deeper look!

The five stages of the Deep Tech Center innovation radar

Stage 1: All Innovation

The "all innovation" step is the first gate, where all current innovation "hot topics" and technologies are identified. This stage is driven by the tech. New technologies hit the media we consume. ChatGPT is taking over LinkedIn and Twitter or the next wave of blockchain applications are two examples of that phenomenon. Seeing and monitoring the global innovation landscape is good: it allows us to see where potential is coming that we could use ourselves to get a first-mover advantage. Our Innovation Radar in this stage focuses on observing "the innovation market" for the latest trends. It has to take into account the product maturity, the disruption potential and the development ecosystem. Innovations like Quantum Computing might be disruptive, but they may still be years away from being practicable.

Stage 2: Relevant Innovation

Innovations promise to solve existing problems in a different way. In stage two, we focus on how innovation can serve the goals of our organization. We establish a connection between the potential of the tech and its application to the specific business challenges we face. This is done by establishing a value chain and looking at existing use cases within our industry, the size of the market and the competitive landscape on a high level.

An observation like "ChatGPT (the innovation) could help our customer support department to get their job done more quickly  (organizational goal)" is high level, but an indicator that the innovation is relevant. This is the stage where we filter the big universe of all innovation for the ones with potential for the organization.

At the Center for Deep Tech Innovation, we collect the highest priority business challenges and assess if the innovation could generally help with the challenge.

Stage 3: Impactful Innovation

In the third stage, we take the identified relevant innovation and, through a series of conceptual assessments and proof of concepts, find those that actually have an impact on the organization's processes.

This step focuses on first identifying a single process where the innovation could have an impact. For example, the process that "helps first-level customer support with troubleshooting faulty first-time software installations" might be one of them. This must be a concrete process that is already present in the organization and has a problem.

When the innovator finds such a concrete process, they need to assess how big the impact to improving that particular process or processes related to it is. If the pain is big enough, it is time to move to a proof of concept (PoC).

In a PoC it is important to take a concrete process that is well defined (like the first-time software onboarding troubleshooting above) to stick close to reality: solving real problems that real people have with innovation.

The evaluation of the first proof of concept determines if we let the innovation filter through our radar or if it gets stuck in that stage.

Stage 4: Proven Innovation

If a PoC has shown there is value for this innovation, it is time to zoom out again and think about the productization of this innovation. For example, we could imagine a ChatGPT-based first-level customer support application that is fine-tuned with the software's user guide as a product that helps the process from the PoC but also others similar to it.

Here is where we have to either run more detailed proof of concepts (for complex innovation), pivot to a different process or run similar experiments in different contexts. If the innovation has on an organizational level enough impact that it makes economic sense to invest in building a production-ready version of it, the Innovation Radar lets it into the next stage.

Stage 5: Chosen Innovation

The chosen innovations are integrated into the organization's real-world processes in real products. This stage is where "innovation management" starts to become "product management"

How to do it?

At the Center for Deep Tech Innovation, we have a guided Innovation Radar product that guides innovators through the five steps. Our ph.d.-level experts help in the first stages by filtering through the noise in the innovation universe and identifying relevant innovations. With these relevant innovations, we help in workshops to identify processes where they can have an impact. If the impact stage is passed and a proof of concept our innovation development squad can help.

Whether you do these five steps in-house or with external experts' help: innovation is an organization's lifeblood. A structured process to it and a good Innovation Radar maximize the output and time to market. Try it!

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