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We are in the middle of a re-orientation of our ways to undertake innovation as a process and in its design.

The past belief that a product was your island and pathway to secured profits no longer works. We are learning to connect in completely different ways.

We are learning how to interact with a connected system as products move into products and digital, connected and combined.

It is how we design and explores “smart” products and for this we are reliant on others, having a growing dependency on external parties. We are building our innovation in new collaborations and diverse networks of expertise and understanding.

The emergence of platforms and ecosystems within our connected product design are increasingly taking a central role.

So are you learning a new innovation language?

There is this need for a new language for innovation?

The new environment is one where the product needs to be always on, to be able to perform, to extract greater value by being part of a larger system of design. It can be a connected shoe, contributing to your understanding of your fitness. It can equally be by bringing your understanding to a greater understanding and appreciation of what is possible. It can be related to your travel to make it less complicated, more integrated in design so when you undertake a journey you have a collective knowledge of where you are going, the way you are travelling; in purchases of the travel tickets, hotel choice, and suggestions of where to eat and visit on your trip.

All these take those disconnected products of the past into a connected experience, your personal connected experience, where you can be more informed and make your choices. This comes from the design of digital solutions that become integrated into a total experience. The product becomes your platform to design your needs that fit your circumstances

To get to this connected experience there are multiple layers of complexity to overcome. The bringing of the islands of products into an ecosystem of design, one that focuses on the delivery of the experience or expectations you were seeking.

We have become far more aware, dependent on user behavior to guide the design of solutions. To get there we are building our contributions on platforms. As we gain understanding we are getting more fluid, we learn and adjust to constantly improve. We need to learn to collaborate and co-create far more.

There has been or we are undergoing a real shift in internal innovation design.

The old interactions of innovation being undertaken “just” between the marketing expert and research and development have become today a very different and crowded space. Today it is all about designing experiences where programmes become key, technology, applications and software need to be considered and design into the finished offering. We require different engineers, industrial designers, material scientists and human-factor specialists to be involved and they are finding permanent seats at the design table. Generalists have been replaced by specialists. The marketer is becoming simply the orchestrator or project coordinator of all the connected parts.

Designers are constantly thinking of the need to be first,  the need to offer that”always on” support, secondly having digital as part of the final design, thirdly, dealing more actively in the full lifecycle of design and demand, and finally in managing this in different, highly interactive ways. It is where the design is considered in more dramatic ways, anticipating and solving complexity, where frequency, scale, scope, experimentation and ongoing interaction with maximizing utilization, dominates the thinking.

So, we are learning to operate increasingly in a world where we are highly reliant on others, dependent on multiple specialists to bring concepts to the realization.  It becomes increasingly how we react and learn within this connected system and we need to constantly look for common understanding. It seems time and predictability are being more challenged than previously.

The “fuzzy front end” has been arguably replaced by the Edge.

The edge is where discovery is constantly emerging in new digital ways. Usage is captured, dialogues are conducted, performance is being evaluated and feedback through data and insights are fed back into a “core” of any new innovation design. How we are setting about bringing ideas into concepts are changing. The physical side stays incredibly relevant but it is the design of digital into products that are making the difference today. the connected difference. Replacing the fuzzy front end of physical relationships with “edge” thinking coming from data alters the early stage design process. It allows for a different form of innovation translation.

Technology is changing the innovation game. For example:

1. Technology is changing the way products are coming to life. We have generative designs, systems within systems interacting and providing new insights, and we are exploring new intelligence models, to extract knowledge.

2. Technology is changing the way products are being realized. The amount of digital learning, machine learning or connected learning, the use of additive manufacturing to develop and alter product design and the greater use of advanced robotics and technology application are making design radically different

3. Technology is changing the way a product is evolved. We have the greater use of cloud computing, of customer interfaces, of managing knowledge, automating much of what we gather and turning this into new insights and we have big data analytics guiding much of our product and design thinking.

4. Technology is changing the way we interact. The ability to connect both to others, more specialized to add their value within the design process and to the final consumer, Involving the consumer to be engaged and fully involved in the product from concept throughout the lifecycle of a product, in business model design, change, evolution and value positioning.

It is these forces of technology being applied to innovation that are radically altering how we go about the innovation discovery, understanding, concept testing and delivering the final products. We are moving at very different speeds for ideation, realization, and utilization, than ever before.

Yet it is the underlying forces of connectivity that are making so many fundamental changes to our innovation design. We need to learn this new language, we need to get comfortable in its understanding, usage, and applicability.

There is such a ‘sea-change’ occurring in the innovation design. Those that stick purely to their (stand-alone) product are failing to appreciate the incredible value in collaborations and co-creation. They are the ones that are going to lose out.  It is a world of digital understanding and that has a new language of innovation for all of us to learn.

I am rapidly learning this new innovation language, are you? Are you appreciating the changes going on? They are radical in the design of innovation going forward.

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