Innovation Deficits Versus the Innovator's Dilemma

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Nine Great Innovations, Opportunities and Challenges for 2012

A volatile 2012 is expected with pockets of great innovation, opportunity and new successes, as well as challenges.

One of the fundamental problems with the economy as a whole is that when you look across the business landscape there's not much happening in terms of real innovation. There are a few exceptions to that rule that IT vendors often like to cite, but the reality is that most businesses are not utilizing IT to launch new services and capabilities that could dramatically transform their business.

In fact, at the CSC Technology and Business Solutions conference today, newly appointed CSC CEO Mike Lawrie says that IT services companies are starving for innovative ideas that usually best come from the place where customers and service providers interact with one another.

While Lawrie was more than willing to acknowledge CSC's complicity in contributing to that innovation deficit, the fact remains that this is an issue that goes well beyond IT. After riding years of unprecedented growth, too many businesses are still in a state of shock from a downturn that was unprecedented in its sharpness.


Rather than spurring innovation, most businesses have responded with extreme caution. You can argue whether that's the best response to the crisis, but the fact remains that most companies are looking for a way to do what they have always done more efficiently rather than experimenting with something totally new and different no matter how much upside potential there might be.

IT clearly has a role to play in fixing this situation. But as Lawrie acknowledges, it will take years for an investment in innovation today to pay off. That means that organizations need to have some patience and discipline when it comes to identifying what opportunities for innovation are actually going to have the most strategic value for the organization.

But none of that can happen unless companies promote a culture of innovation. Without that culture the people with great ideas will simply take them somewhere else where they are easier to implement. As anybody who is familiar with the "Innovator's Dilemma" knows, that's generally a frustrating experience for all concerned. There's also no doubt that all this lack of innovation is at the core of the jobs issue that dominates political discourse today and now determines what companies will thrive versus those that will merely survive.

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