Question: Why should you use Innovation Maps as a part of your company’s Innovation and Profitable Growth plan?
Answer: To find new opportunities to grow profitably.
This is the first in a three part series on Innovation Mapping:
- This column will address Why Use Innovation Maps?
- Next week I’ll discuss How to create Innovation Maps
- The final column will detail Using White Space to find distinctive opportunities
Why Use Innovation Maps?
Again, the answer is to find new opportunities to grow through new products and services that provide more value to customers and separate your company from competitors.
Innovation maps can reveal “White Space” opportunities that exist and create options for developing differentiated products or services from those that currently exist. An Innovation Map will help find opportunities to disrupt competitors as well.
Disruptive products are those that provide customers with more value than current products, usually at a lower price. However, sometimes disruptive products are so amazingly different that they create entire new product categories and entirely new markets. Examples include:
- The Electric Light Bulb (Thomas Edison)
- Mass produced automobiles (Henry Ford)
- More recently, the iPod and the iPhone, and possibly now the iPad (Apple)
What is an Innovation Map?
There are a number of different types of Innovation Maps. One type is fairly simple and straight forward and uses two dimensions to graph products, markets, industries or customer segments. Other more complex types of Innovation Maps map organizational performance characteristics of companies in a number of dimensions, such as the demands for novelty; costs of innovation; process design; the degree of control within the process, etc.
My focus will be on the two dimensional Innovation Map that is a basic two-axis graph. The first step is to define the characteristics that are meaningful to you or your company about a product, market, industry or segment that you intend to map. The two most typical characteristics are:
- Quality, on the vertical axis, and
- Convenience, on the horizontal axis
Innovation Mapping Basics
Lets assume you have chosen to focus on the primary market your company currently serves. To begin mapping, think about the most significant products that have been developed in this market. Now map the history of these products in the market you have selected from the beginning to today.
Here’s an example:
Market: Listening to Recorded Music
History from the beginning to now:
- Graphite 78 rpm records
- 33 rpm LPs
- 45 rpm singles
- AM mono radios
- Transistor radios
- FM stereo radios
- 8-track stereo tapes
- Stereo cassette tapes
- Compact Discs
To get a feel for how to create an Innovation Map yourself, use the history of Listening to Recorded Music above and map where each product would be placed on the graph, based on Quality and Convenience.
You may see how “White Spaces” revealed themselves to innovators in the music business to create new products that disrupted the market. Apple uses Innovation Maps like this to find emerging opportunities for their products.
Next week, we’ll discuss how to create an Innovation Map for your business.
Charlie Alter owns Bentbrook Advisors LLC based in Sylvania, Ohio. He specializes in Growth Strategy, Innovation and Coaching and can be reached at email@example.com visit http://bentbrookadvisors.com/ for more information on his business advisory practice.