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If Open Innovation is more theory than practice in your R&D organization you could be compromising growth and competitiveness.

People in technology and software companies are talking about Innovation Networks, Global Ecosystems and other types of collaboration and partnering across R&D and product development functions. Henry Chesbrough first coined the term Open Innovation in his 2003 book of the same name. The concept is a significant paradigm shift and combined with globalization, it's going to re-shape the business world for decades to come.

Open Innovation assumes organizations can and should harness external and internal ideas along with internal and external paths to market, as a means to advance technology and drive competitiveness. And the concept is picking up steam. A recent Economist Intelligence Unit study found 64% of companies surveyed already collaborate with outsourcing vendors in their R&D processes and predicts the number will grow to 75% in three years. R&D is going global, but where on the globe is it going? Of the many options around the world, India and China are the most preferred lower cost locations for R&D.

Best R&D; locations outside HQ Country                   

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But putting Open Innovation into practice can be challenging for R&D organizations that:

  • View co-creation of products with external partners as daunting - requiring both a mindset shift and support from top management
  • Allow the not-invented-here syndrome to block the generation and execution of new ideas and compromise getting to market quickly
  • Fear that sharing ideas with an innovation partner will tip off competitors
  • Think the complexities of a global delivery model could actually lead to a lower innovation yield

Some of these challenges require a mindset change and others require a well managed process. We can help with both. In fact, Symphony's Innovation Labs were created for just this reason.

Client Innovation Labs

Symphony's Innovation Labs are where innovation principles and practices come together in a specialized environment to team with clients to develop and validate and commercialize ideas for new products, features and processes.

Innovation Labs address the need to innovate across the lifecycle of products and services. While innovation can come from any part of the lifecycle, the mission of innovation shifts as the lifecycle evolves—breakthrough, incremental, and sustaining innovation. So we customize our approach for each client and can execute against one or all innovation missions - Ideation, Development and Implementation or Portfolio Optimization.

For example, when we are executing Ideation in an Innovation Lab, we build a dedicated environment of specialized hardware and software where innovation teams apply discovery techniques to rapidly identify solutions. Clients benefit by reducing the risk of developing the wrong or incomplete solution and speeding time to product/feature realization.

Effective collaboration with 'outsiders' thousands of miles away is not easy. But it can be done and it can significantly increase the innovation yield from your R&D investment.


An Innovation Checklist

Download Symphony Services latest white paper to learn about trends and best practices in establishing global innovation networks.



Greg NiCastro
Executive Vice President, Integrated Solutions & Development, Iron Mountain.

"Others may have come to India for the cost benefit but we’re here for the innovation."