The present and future of innovation according to today’s practitioners

The official journal of the Industrial Research Institute, Research-Technology Management (RTM), released its March-April 2013 issue last Friday with a concentration on evidence-based innovation and its future. In his From the Editor column, Jim Euchnar, Editor-in-Chief at RTM, discusses “The Nature and Uses of Evidence,” as a guideline for how each article in this issue approaches specific elements of innovation and R&D. “Conducting evidence-based research on innovation is more difficult in practice than it may appear,” writes Euchnar, “but it is possible. This issue includes examples that illustrate the varieties of evidence that can work for practitioners.”

The feature articles in this issue include an exploration by Zeljko Tekic and Dragan Kukolj of how the threat of litigation impacts the value of patents. This issue also includes a study by John Nicholas, Ann Ledwith, and John Bessant involving a more effective search for discontinuous innovation. John K. Christiansen, Marta Gasparin, and Claus J. Varnes then take the reader through a case study they performed involving the application of various open innovation practices in a single company to discern which practices yielded the best results. Their findings include the observation that even when controlling for culture it is difficult to identify success and failure with open innovation practices. In another article, Koteshwar Chirumalla talks about the role of Web 2.0 technologies in knowledge management for the product-services sector.

These studies yield insightful, evidence-based research into R&D today. But what about tomorrow? A joint futures project sponsored by PepsiCo, AndConsulting, and IRI has been performing weak environmental scans and futures wheels in an attempt to isolate and identify emerging trends in technology innovation. The group, IRI2038, published a teaser in this issue of RTM, transcribing a conversation which takes place on May 15, 2038, between Nikhita Cruise, IRI’s Director of Future Studies, and Dr. Rachel Chen, “retiring Chief Innovation Officer at one of the world’s largest consumer product companies.” Listen in as these two talk about in-home 3D printers, holographic teleconferencing, and a boom in freelancers, all of which began years ago… in 2013.

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