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October 2011

Trends in Innovation

An Excerpt from "New Insights for Driving Innovation in Product Development" Webcast

Planview recently hosted a Webcast titled "New Insights for Driving Innovation in Product Development: Is Your Organization a Lean, Mean, Innovating Machine?" featuring Sanjeev Pal, Research Manager of Product, Project and Portfolio Management Solutions at IDC, and me. Here is the first of a 3 part series on the highlights from that discussion.

Insight into Marketplace Trends

I kicked things off with an analogy I found on a blog that compares survivalist training while backpacking and keeping a business running efficiently in the current economy. As any backpacker will tell you, space is always a challenge so you should only carry what is absolutely necessary. Similarly, businesses must keep their pipelines as simple and streamlined as possible, especially in an economic downturn. And, whether backpacking in the wilderness or navigating in the marketplace, good, level-headed decision making will always be valuable in the business world.

Sanjeev then covered several trends he is seeing in the marketplace today:

  1. Uncertainty in the economy, both in developed and developing countries, and increased global competition.
  2. Changing consumer consumption patterns show increased consumer influence and demand for innovative, high-quality, easy-to-use products at lower prices. The more complex products results in more complex manufacturing processes which require more collaboration throughout the entire manufacturing process. He highlighted the iPad and robot vacuums as examples of products that are the result of companies doing this well. How? Their constant and consistent innovation and tight vertical integration.

Social connectivity plays a huge role in educating consumers on technological innovations and generating excitement around new products. Even kids aren't immune. Children are interacting with technology at an earlier age than ever. As they get older and begin buying these products, they will demand more from technology -- more complex products than can do many things at once.

To hear more, listen to the podcast, on this topic.

My next post will cover examples of innovation, specifically in the technology industry, as well as lessons that can be learned from their successes and failures.

I encourage you to listen to the complete Webcast to hear Sanjeev cover these topics in more detail.

Fare Thee Well Steve

For those of you with passion for the world of technology, today is without question a very sad day. Whether you are an Apple disciple (like myself), or someone with just a passion for technology, we all lost an inspirational figure in our industry and a remarkable human being. Of course the power of Steve was that he made the most innovative technologies accessible to everyone. The fact that my 75 year old mother (who loves her Mac) was one of the first people I called upon hearing the news of his death is testament to his legacy.

It is interesting talking to people today and the general sense that so many feel they lost someone they knew, although none of us have ever met the man. Few people in history have created that sense -- JFK, Martin Luther King, John Lennon, Jerry Garcia. In all these cases the person’s mission and vision were almost indiscernible from the person themself. In the case of Steve, every time you hold or interact with an Apple product, you get a visceral sense that his personal stamp is on every aspect of the product. Those products are the technological incarnation of Steve Jobs, and thus we all feel we know the man because we know the products.

I read a piece recently that discussed some recent research concluding that we "love" our iPhones. Through MRI scans of the brain, it was determined that iPhone use stimulates the same regions of the brain associated with feeling of love. Love is a strong word, but I can assure you that watching Steve at a launch event or playing with one of his creations certainly has brought joy to my life -- some of that joy will never be recreated in the same way.

We were blessed to have lived and experienced his genius. Over the past few months, anticipating this day, I will admit that at times I felt cheated out of coming decades of undiscovered joy that Steve would have brought us. But today we need to focus on the genius we were all able to witness and the path that he opened up for all of us. We were fortunate to be a part of it.