Innovations are much more than just “new ideas.” Innovation speed is a key factor for the economic success of every business. But how can I stay up to date on all the relevant trends, technologies, solutions, and emerging startups without setting up a strategic team that can predict what’s coming? And how can I distinguish between the trends that are important for me and empty hype?
The Detecon Innovation Institute (DII) in San Francisco, which has developed a solution called "Innovation Radar", deals with precisely these questions. The innovation radar makes it possible to structure, analyze, and assess available information on trends, risks, or startups and to use these results for future-oriented strategies and innovation projects. We spoke to Philipp Schett, Managing Consultant at Detecon in San Francisco, who described 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 evolving, and the conduct of significant research has long since left the exclusive domain of large companies. Industry boundaries are becoming murky, and innovations from startups can quickly throw the business models of established companies into chaos. If companies recognize early on what is happening, these rapid changes often go hand in hand with opportunities. The responses may be partnerships with young companies or the development of new products or acquisitions. Regardless of the innovation strategy a company pursues, it is essential to maintain a clear overview of these new developments so that the right decisions for the future can be made with greater accuracy.
What is the greatest challenge in trend scouting?
Successful trend and innovation management are extremely important for companies, but also involves a lot of effort. First of all, a company must have a clear picture of 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 set of criteria that is used to assess the identified trends and opportunities. 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. Simply relying on PowerPoint and Excel alone is hopelessly behind the times. These traditional tools are neither dynamic nor flexible enough to keep up with the speed of innovation 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 core competencies of our trend and startup scouting, which we continuously operate with the aid of our employees in the innovation centers of the world. Companies can use these services to improve their innovation management processes; thanks to current data on relevant topics, potential partners as well as risks can be identified at an early stage. We believe that this is particularly important for small and midsize businesses. Creating their own scouting system at a high level of quality requires a lot of time and effort – but it is indispensable. The changes caused by digitalization are inescapable for all industries and must also be actively managed by midsize companies.
How does this work in daily practice?
By working together with ITONICS, a young Nuremberg and Berlin-based company specialized in the development of cloud-based tools for innovation management, we have succeeded in making our scouting expertise available in a user-friendly and dynamic manner. The tool-based solution can be used in two ways: on the one hand as a management and centralization tool for the company’s own content, and on the other hand as a “theme radar” that provides access to the latest trends in the areas 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 to the introduction of successful products. Our clients benefit from our expert knowledge in the various fields, our methodological expertise in agile working and processes, as well as our global 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"?
Here, our network, as well as our many years of experience, come into play. 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 to them and their business.
Our presence in Silicon Valley is of decisive importance, as well. This is the only way to observe the heartbeat of the times, detect trends at an early stage, and actively interconnect them with the startup environment. In addition, we contribute our network with other innovation centers such as Berlin and Tel Aviv.