Guaranteeing the commercial success of an innovation is a key challenge across industries. In fact, a surprisingly high percentage of companies initiating a radical innovation – i.e. an innovation which consists of a novel technology bringing novelty to the market - fail to convert them into commercial success. In this presentation, I look at some examples of successful and unsuccessful launches across various industries to explore and uncover what it takes to take innovation all the way.
Although different industries require different approaches to innovation commercialization, we observe that the barrier to success often is not a failure in technology but the reliance on a commercialization strategy that is not sufficiently innovative. To fuse both the technology/science side and the innovative market perspective, a grassroots innovation process – in which innovation is generated bottom-up with support, however, of top management – is a good approach. Following such a process allows companies to find the “sweet spot” which is a combination of matching an unmet customer need with a great solution and a profit generating strategy.
Successful companies have in common that they identified the right commercialization strategy for their innovations. To achieve this, three steps in successful commercialization are essential. First, developing a solid hypothesis on the market through observation of customers: Customer intimacy -instead of customer surveys- is the key to success here. Dropbox, PatientsLikeMe, and Tesco are good examples of how a market hypothesis through observing the customer led to a successful innovation. Second, experimentation (on a limited scale) to validate that hypothesis early on. Experiments are the best way to find out whether your solution could be effective for your customers. Third, finding a matching business model: pricing and costing is an essential part of the innovation process and not just the job of specialists. Throughout these 3 steps, learning and adapting are key in becoming successful as you can be sure that you will not execute according to the plan. You thus need to prepare for failure in innovation because otherwise, you are probably not innovative enough.