What is Digital Innovation?

Definition of digital innovation: the application of digital tools to the many varieties of innovation methodologies to improve performance of innovation teams. 

Digital innovation is NOT business model innovation. I'm sorry, but let's hold the line on allowing sloppy thinking to get regurgitated on the internets.  I'm looking at you, Tropical Gringo

The concept of digitized innovation has huge implications for the approach that any innovation team should take.  To fully appreciate the concept, let's review what happens with analog innovation.

Analog innovation teams lack basic computing infrastructure to accomplish their goals and are thereby slower to market.  Market opportunities are observed through anecdotal stories gathered by the CEO, marketing and sales team.  New technologies are developed in isolation of outside influences beyond what the science and engineering teams can directly observe.  Customer insights have to be conducted in-person to gather ethnographic and trend influencing insights.  Brainstorming sessions need to be conducted in person using inefficient group creativity techniques. Solutions are developed and prototyped by hand, limiting the complexity of solution that can be created in a given timeframe.  Solutions are tested through one-on-one customer surveys via phone or paper with reduced response rates.  This has been a fun mental exercise... I'm not even sure how one would bring innovation to scale for tooling and mass production in the modern economy.

By contrast, today's digital innovation tools are accessible and affordable to entrepreneurial and enterprise innovation teams alike.  Trends and market opportunities can be identified and socialized within an organization faster than ever using digital tools - if innovation teams are intentional about getting exposed to new environments.   Customers and stakeholders have even more opportunities to influence product development using digital ethnography techniques.  Even more powerful is the emergence of digital ideation and brainstorming, which allows for geographically disparate teams to outperform traditional in-person ideation teams.  Of course, the design, prototyping, and manufacturing ramp-up process has gone entirely digital in the modern era, allowing for greater speed and complexity than ever imaginable in the analog innovation days.

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