Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The SAP Open Innovation Experience

Companies are beginning to look beyond innovation within its own R&D sectors and are starting to create open collaboration networks of external partners. This latest post on innovation.net shows us that this is not just a trend by discussing how SAP’s open innovation efforts have spawned much success.

SAP had previously launched Co-Innovation Lab in 2007 to experiment with the idea of open innovation. It was a open collaboration network for partners to solve industry specific challenges and problems via the SAP platform. What was different about this platform was that SAP’s approach was much more focused. It was sponsored and initiated by HP, Cisco, Intel, and NetApp. By creating a much more private, invitation-only style network it takes away the ability of just anyone contributing.

How does your company measure up against SAP’s open innovation efforts? Does your company foster a more “private” approach to open innovation?

1 comment:

Jackie Hutter, IP and Patent Business Strategist said...

The "private" approach to innovation may be dictated not by business policy, but by mis-gudied legal policy. I found this to be the case when I had a senior IP legal position in a fairly conservative multi-national company.

In this position, I worked closely with innovation teams who were challenged by C-level management to come up with sustainable and game-changing innovations in a short timeline, even when our company had minimal R&D capability. This would seem to be a situation screaming for an Open Innovation strategy. However, I found that attempts by our innovation teams to engage in Open Innovation were thwarted by my more conservative lawyer colleagues. Because they were afraid of the unknown and the legal complications that Open Innovation can cause, my tradition-bound lawyer colleagues filled our business teams with reasons why Open Innovation was a bad idea. As a result, our innovation teams could not readily fill the pipeline with externally generated ideas, and they could not easily meet the directives of the C-level. In short, having the wrong legal advice prevented successful execution of my company's business strategy.

Yes, Open Innovation can cause legal difficulties (especially in the patent space), but in my experience the benefits far outweigh the potential risks--especially in a robust innovation environment. The key is to make sure that your company's IP lawyers really understand how to deal with the legal issues, and that they are not just shutting down your business team's efforts because they fear change and the legal complications of Open Innovation.

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