Could you fuel your innovation by re-awakening great technology?
January sees one of the most tense and eagerly anticipated events in space exploration as the European Space Agency (ESA) attempts to bring the Rosetta spacecraft back online and set it on course to rendez-vous with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The probe was originally launched in March 2004, and has since been on an epic journey through the solar system before being put into hibernation in June 2011 to preserve energy.
Once revived, scientists will attempt to make it land and “piggy-back” on Comet 67P as it makes its closest approach to the sun, revealing new insights about comets – which are probably the most primitive bodies in the Solar System and preserve the earliest record of material from the nebula out of which our Sun and planets were formed.
So what has this got to do with innovation?
In space research, the distances involved mean that technology is developed and built years before its potential is realised. Scientists do not have the luxury of moving onto the next big thing once the excitement of a technology launch is over. Back on earth, however, we often see huge investment in new, major technology platforms that effectively only “live for a day” as the mantra of “innovate or die” prompts the churning out of numerous mediocre “innovations”, while powerful platforms that can deliver against enduring category needs are overlooked.
Isn’t this just re-hashing old products?
No – not if the technology platform you are considering truly delivered against some enduring needs within your category (for example hydration in skin care, stain removal in laundry, safety in automotives)
How do you re-awaken technology a platform for innovation?
1. Refresh the insight behind the benefit or consumer need
The category may have evolved; competition will have moved on, habits may have changed. Re-explore what’s missing or desired by your target now and how this affects their world. Use proven methods (such as 3W) to unlock relevant insights.
2. Augment the offering with new functionality or experiences
Even with a great core technology, extending its life and performance will require keeping it up to date. Look at what’s the standard of excellence technically in your category now, and what new technology trends could augment your core performance. What additional features can you offer that enhance the benefit? What other elements can you add to the design and performance to improve the product experience?
3. Develop the right contemporary story to re-connect consumer and technical insights
Finding the right story of how your consumer connects with your innovation is essential. And remember, even with a superior-performing technology, the hero of your story is your consumer. You must resist the temptation to simply tell a story of what your product can do – and rather focus on telling the story of the connection that your consumer makes with it. Using the CIS approach, we can dig deep into technical insights on new or existing technologies and link them to consumer insights to develop powerful stories that show your target that your product was made for him/her.
Of course it’s important to keep the pipeline fuelled with novel approaches and innovation programs. But don’t ignore great potential that you may have invested a lot in – with the right approach to re-awaken it, it just may provide a stellar platform for long-term innovation!