Ten (Innovation) trends for 2010

I like lists.

Lists are tidy. They provide a framework and focus. They look good on a page. But too often I take them as truth. Maybe I get seduced by the neat order. I don’t know.

I recently ran across a list of trends for 2010 by Mark E. Atkins. How does the Atkins list (or any other list) compare to your views and opinions? Here are some thoughts and observations interspersed.

The Atkins List

  1. 2010–2020 will be the “Innovation Decade.”
    It seems that every year is “the beginning of a new era of innovation,” so #1 is a truism in my book.
  2. Emergence of innovation in Brazil, India, and China.
    Most clients are intimately aware of the threat/benefit tradeoff regarding off-shoring to China. A few are paying a little attention to India. Brazil isn’t on anyone’s radar that I know of—a sure indicator that I’d better start planning my trip to Rio.
  3. Focus on the ROI for IP.
    We would all like to think that #3 has guided our IP decisions for years—but do we really have the patience to wait and actually measure the return? Not that I’ve seen.
  4. Mature markets leading to massive product portfolio obsolescence.
    Everything from automobiles to pencils fits for #4.
  5. Impact of the brain drain from the Baby Boomer exodus.
    Look around your company. Chances are you can clearly see how sequential downsizing is accelerating the impact of #5. Is your organization doing anything—mentoring, cross-training, or documentation—to compensate?
  6. Time to market…in half the time.
    It is hard to argue with #6. We’d all like that. How many of us are actually working on achieving it?
  7. Global collaboration.
    Many of us are already knee-deep in global collaboration. The next frontier could be recognizing that the same systems, tools and methods work for local collaboration as well.
  8. Product differentiation over commoditization.
  9. Radical engineering over incremental engineering.
    #8 and #9 define the continuing battle between conservatives and innovators. Low-risk, commodity-based products and incremental design improvements justly achieve near-risk-free rates of return—and in this economy, we know just how low that rate is.
  10. Evolution of the Innovation Intelligence Ecosystem.
    Put into street-speak, #10 means “Figure out how to get and use lots of good information.” OK. I think we can all agree on this.