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Innovation Strategies

Innovation strategies typically involve entirely new products or services that carve out new market space and bring in new customers. These products or services "leapfrog" existing market players by providing a technology or meeting a need better than any one else. As a result, in addition to creating new market space, they may also woo customers away from established companies, disrupting the existing marketplace and making old technology obsolete. When this occurs, we call this disruptive innovation. 

In principle, existing companies and new entrepreneurs face similar struggles in finding new positions in the market place. However, in practice, it may not be possible for an incumbent to redesign its business activities in a way that supports a new innovative strategy. New entrants have the flexibility to choose where and how they are going to deliver a new product or service without facing trade-offs with their existing activities. As a result, innovation strategies typically go hand in hand with start-ups or new ventures - and we see established businesses looking for ways to "think and act like a startup."

Innovation strategies can sometimes come from unique positions that have simply been overlooked by established competitors. They can also come about because of change: new technologies make new things possible; evolving societies have new needs; and globalization means new markets, new distribution channels and new supply chains appear. The creation of the Apple iPod personal music player and the Apple iPad tablet computing device are good examples of how a company created an entirely new market space for a new and innovative idea. In fact, when we think of innovative companies we typically think of high-tech companies with large research and development costs like Apple. 

Recent technology innovations that consumers are familiar with include the personal computer (1977 - Commodore PET), the Internet (1985 - Netscape), the iPod (2001 - Apple), the smartphone (2003 - Blackberry), and the iPad (iPad - 2010). The Internet has also driven online innovations such as Amazon with its one click check out. Facebook and Twitter are other examples of innovation online, creating the "social" marketspace.  

Innovation can also come in the form of new business processes that support new products or services, or that create a new value proposition in an existing or redesigned product or service. That is, both the process and the value of the final product must be substantially different from competitors.  

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