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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Open Innovation: Heart of Small Business

In Free Enterprise: John Mason GM of IBM's Midmarket Business writes:

" ... The drive to innovate is alive and well within the hearts of small businesses. But as most successful small business leaders know, it's not enough to have a great idea.   In fact, half of all new small businesses fail because they can't turn their promising concepts into a profitable business reality, according to the Small Business Administration. For the most part, the survival of these smaller firms relies on factors that remain unrecognized until it is too late. Markets shift, pushing customers to find new places to spend their money. Technologies shift, enabling the latest products to be offered through other channels. Even demographics shift, with one group’s position of “favorite brand” losing its appeal and seemingly overnight becoming “has-been”. ... " \

As part of my role in our innovation centers I often had to work with small businesses that had new ideas in retail.    These varied in size from very small businesses to very large. We worked with them to define, develop and deliver their new innovations in our simulated retail environments ad demonstrate them to retailers.    These innovations were delivered under the umbrella of open innovation.   One thing I saw more than and other was the need to adapt to agile environments.

In addition companies were often closer to the retail environment than we were, and had to be able to changes as their market changed.    Most of what we did was before social technologies were widely available to consumers, but the new realm of the social, mobile and local connections make this form of innovation more agile even more important.

" ... The small business often has the advantage of proximity to their customers, but this proximity also means that it may be difficult to "see the wood for the trees". Yet thanks to new social, mobile and connected technologies, there is much a small business can do to identify new areas of value in their products and services. Open innovation is fast becoming the heart and soul of a new, more dynamic small and midsized enterprise. The opportunity is greater now than ever for smaller competitors quickly to develop actionable insights, collaborate with others to turn innovative ideas into real business opportunities and be a truly disruptive force in their market ..." \

John Mason is the GM of IBM's Midmarket Business.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

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