This is the part two of a three part series on using Innovation Maps to find new opportunities for profitable growth. In part one I discussed Why you should consider using Innovation Maps, in this column I’ll describe How to start developing an Innovation Map.
Why Use Innovation Maps?
To reinforce Why you should consider using this process, the typical 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.
One goal of Innovation maps is to reveal “White Space” opportunities that exist and create options for developing differentiated products or services from those that currently exist. An Innovation Maps can 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)
Step One: Frame the Context
The first order of business is to decide what aspect of your business you are going to map. The choices are normally the following, you need to pick one:
- Industries or
- Customer Segments
Let’s assume you plan focus on the products that your company produces today for your Innovation Map. Even if you don’t produce and sell products directly, you can still employ this process. Identify the most profitable and most distinctive products or services your business provides to customers. Do some on-line digging on these products so that you are familiar with the history of these and similar products. Think about what the most useful criteria are that you and your customers think best represent the product to use as the x and y axes on your map.
The most typical criteria are:
- Quality, and
Convenience or Experience
Building the Innovation Map:
Here’s an example of an Innovation Map using Quality and Convenience on the x and y axes. I’ve mapped the example I gave last week of “products used to listen to music” over time, which I’ve listed below:
- Graphite 78 rpm records
- AM mono radios
- 33 rpm LPs
- 45 rpm singles
- Stereo LPs
- Transistor radios
- FM stereo radios
- 8-track stereo tapes
- Stereo cassette tapes
- Compact Discs
- MP3 Devices
Here’s what it looks like when we map this product history:
Try It Yourself
Using this example of an Innovation Map, think about your business and the products it produces, the markets it serves, the industries it represents or the customer segments that it focuses on. Now take a crack at mapping one of these using the examples above.
In the Third Segment of this topic, we will discuss how White Spaces reveal themselves in the Innovation Map and how you can use White Space to find new opportunities for innovation and growth.