Access to information and communication technology is growingly rapidly and is changing the lives of people in developing countries. In 2014, the number of mobile subscriptions overtook the number of human inhabitants of the planet – presenting a world of opportunity for development.
Retain the new talent. With so many new digital employees in their ranks, companies need to create an environment in which these individuals will want to stay for the long term. They can do so by, for example, providing ongoing learning opportunities and interesting career paths. Google and Procter & Gamble found a way some years ago to move talent around—not only internally but also between the two organizations. This partnership came about as P&G sought to do a better job of marketing itself online and Google was looking to big consumer goods companies for more advertising money.
Companies must think through what complementary assets, capabilities, products, or services could prevent customers from defecting to rivals and keep their own position in the ecosystem strong. Apple designs complementarities between its devices and services so that an iPhone owner finds it attractive to use an iPad rather than a rival’s tablet. And by controlling the operating system, Apple makes itself an indispensable player in the digital ecosystem. Corning’s customer-partnering strategy helps defend the company’s innovations against imitators: Once the keystone components are designed into a customer’s system, the customer will incur switching costs if it defects to another supplier.
Similar trade-offs are inherent in choices about innovation processes. For instance, many companies have adopted fairly structured phase-gate” models for managing their innovation processes. Advocates argue that those models inject a degree of predictability and discipline into what can be a messy endeavor. Opponents counter that they destroy creativity. Who is right? Both are—but for different kinds of projects. Highly structured phase-gate processes, which tend to focus on resolving as much technical and market uncertainty as possible early on, work well for innovations involving a known technology for a known market. But they generally do not allow for the considerable iteration required for combinations of new markets and new technologies. Those uncertain and complex projects require a different kind of process, one that involves rapid prototyping, early experimentation, parallel problem solving, and iteration.
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