Is innovation to improve competitive positioning at the top of your company’s agenda? A common approach is to look at the technologies leading companies use to transform their business, then set up an incubator or innovation lab (either internally or externally in a service provider’s business) and provide funding to experiment with the technology. I’ve observed incubators and innovation labs for almost 10 years. Unfortunately, very few of them resulted in meaningful changes to competitive positioning of the company. Let’s look at what you need to bake into your strategy at the outset so you can capture the greatest value from an incubator or innovation lab.
Proponents argue that it’s a cost-effective way to gain clarity on the risks and challenges around implementing a new technology, and they see it as an opportunity to gain greater understanding of the possibilities of new technologies. It’s also a way to identify myths vs. facts around an emerging technology. Certainly, these are wise steps in a business where new technologies have to win the battle for attention among other priorities. But they largely fail to succeed.