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Innovation  Reference Architecture

Tthe TechVision Research Reference Architecture for innovation looks to systematize and better structure innovation programs in large organizations. It can be thought of as a framework or template for a comprehensive innovation program. We seek to apply some of the “lessons learned” in start-ups (where our Principal Consulting Analysts have experience) to models that are applicable in the large organizations we’ve advised for many years. 

The innovation Reference Architecture is a master template that identifies the innovation capabilities (rather than technologies) that can be improved or enabled, allowing business stakeholders and intrapreneurs to achieve a common language for innovation functions, which can then be refined over time. It provides the following benefits:

  • Focus on efforts that provide strategic benefit. Even a successful innovation effort that is counter to the corporate strategy can be distracting at best, destructive at worst.
  • A disciplined approach produces less waste. From problem identification and brainstorming to development and testing, following a set road-map makes the most of innovation efforts. When the process is clear and repeatable, and makes it possible for an organization to measure their progress and efforts.
  • Establishing a measurement system results in process improvements, better formed concepts, and, ultimately a competitive advantage and a significant return on investment.

 

The basic architecture is made up of the following layers.

The Innovation Spectrum describes the scope of the innovation efforts covering everything from continuous improvement to game-changing initiatives.

The Strategy and Capabilities of the enterprise are a springboard of enterprise innovation efforts, the current enterprise resources and intellectual capital.

The Methods and Processes section describes a recommended business process for innovation itself.

The People and Networks section defines the human capital involved in innovating both within and external to the enterprise.

The Execution section highlights some recommended techniques used to execute the innovation program.

The Digital Platform section describes technology platforms that will most likely influence innovation efforts.

And finally, the overall management of the innovation system itself is laid out in the Coordination and Governance section.

Innovation Spectrum

What is it?

The innovation spectrum defines the entire scope of innovation within the enterprise. It covers everything from incremental improvement of existing products and processes to the once-in-a-lifetime breakthrough innovations that change the world.

 

Why do I care?

  • Set the guardrails for all innovation efforts
  • Align innovation with strategic intent
  • Allocate innovation resources properly across short-term and long-term investments

Strategy and Capabilities

What is it?

When expert entrepreneurs set out to build a new venture, they start with their means: who I am, what I know, and whom I know. Then, the entrepreneurs imagine the possibilities that originate from their means. For the enterprise, these are today’s capabilities, customers, and competitive advantages. They represent the “who I am, what I know, and whom I know” for the enterprise. These are the baselines, the wellheads for the innovation efforts.

 

Why do I care?

  • Define how the business currently makes money
  • Baseline the current business model and highlights areas to be challenged and tested
  • Raise the profile of existing core competencies

Methods and Processes

What is it?

For innovation to be effective, it needs to become a core competency, it has to be supported as any other business activity within the company. It needs to have a defined business process, specific tools and methods, resources, incentives, and training.

 

Why do I care?

  • Make innovation a core competency by defining business process, specific tools and methods, resources, incentives, and training.
  • Create a capability to solicit and manage ideas that can execute that strategy on a continual basis.
  • Define a consistent way for ideas mature from concept to capability

People and Networks

What is it?

For the foreseeable future, innovation will require people and their connections with other people to succeed. The People and Networks section defines the human capital involved in innovating both within and external to the enterprise.

Why do I care?

  • Learn why looking for problems is a good thing.

  • Understand how to address the aspects of culture, skills, and motivation necessary for successful innovation.

  • Define ways to use external resources and efforts to accelerate innovation efforts.

Execution

What is it?

Most people think innovation is all about ideas, when in fact it is more about delivery, people, and process. Innovation is what you do to commercialize ideas.

Why do I care?

  • Learn execution approaches that can be used to move an assumption laden idea to a profitable offer in the market.
  • Define the importance of the full customers’ journey on innovation efforts.
  • Understand why iteration is important though out the innovation process.

Digital Platform

What is it?

The Digital Platform section describes technology platforms that will most likely influence innovation efforts. It defines an ecosystem that allows a business to improve its operations and get closer to the customer with minimal overhead and maximum reach.

Why do I care?

  • Learn why innovation requires a fundamentally different platform than production for many businesses
  • Define the importance of experimentation and measurement.
  • Understand what sets the basis for entirely new business models, digital services, and data products.

Coordination and Governance

What is it?

Innovation governance can be thought of as a system of mechanisms to align goals, allocate resources and assign decision-making authority for innovation across the company and with external parties.

Why do I care?

  • Learn how an idea is like a prospect moving through a sales cycle.
  • Understand what needs to be measured and managed in order to improve the innovation capability
  • Define the efforts required for the care and feeding of innovation as a core competency.
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