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Business has only two functions - marketing and innovation.
We have heard a whole lot lately about the innovation crisis. Article after article, business talk show after business talk show has addressed the issue. So what happened to innovation? Of course after the economic downturn companies were a reluctant to invest heavily in new technology. But fast forward four years and where are we today? Well, according to a recent article in Nature,
"China, South Korea and other emerging Asian economies are out-innovating the Western world."
So it seems that one can find innovation if one looks in the right place. Okay then, what does all this mean for the long-term growth of American and other Western companies?
Indeed many of the forecasting reports for R&D spending show increases. Apple, a company considered by mainstream consumers as majorly innovative has increased it's R&D spending by 40%. But their budget remains well below their main competitors. Of course Apple is very profitable, but sometimes when companies become uber-successful they lose that innovation zeal. It becomes all about staying number one and risk becomes a less attractive proposition.
When we ask, "Where's the real innovation, the disruptive technology that changes the way we view the world? Maybe we should just stop looking in the usual places. Maybe real innovation ends when companies get too big.
Perhaps the real R&D funding should be invested in young people in middle school, high school and college who have wild and wacky ideas. Individuals who are not yet bogged down by concerns of market share and ROI; just people that want to change the world (hopefully for the better).
So where can innovation be found? It might be mapping out a beast of a science fair project right this instance. Our job is to continue seeking it.