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In my last post I was discussing the effect digital would be having on our innovation activities, be these presently opened or closed. The impact of digital innovation changes the paradigm.

Organizations can stay closed in their innovation activities, but will move beyond simply themselves into a connected (closed) network, so the platform becomes the enabler and those that join share common ground but are pursuing separate value propositions. These provide a level of competitive advantage but these are increasingly transitory.

We will see a new wave of open digital innovation

So why do I say that? There are four aspects where technology will trend towards open (see more on that here: http://digitalsocial.eu/) so as to exploit our connected world to extract ever diminishing competitive advantage as the world just keeps speeding up, pushing us as technology continues to run ahead of our capacities to assimilate it. So we need to keep moving towards open and let (many) others help us on the way.

1. Firstly, open networks - those innovative combinations of networks, which continue to evolve new solutions and infrastructures and are very rich in bottom-up potential. These open networks are extremely dynamic and diverse, full of experimental pioneers and as they work at the edges, the rest of us need to stay connected, as these open networks will continue to suppliant what we have on a constant, evolving basis. 

2. Open data – This explosion of new types of data analytics and machine learning means we all will eventually have access to analyse vast amounts of data. As we innovate ways to capture, use, analyse and interpret open data coming from multiple sources we need to find its value for what we do. Open data policies will emerge from government, local authorities and (eventually) within our business organisations. We will need the tools and skills to interpret all the open data coming in to us from people, our networks and simply from the environment and world we belong too.

3. Open knowledge – We are in need of co-production of new knowledge. We need to learn more about adoptive capacity where you acquire, assimilate, transform and exploit knowledge from its potential to a realized value. There is a greater trend to mobilization based on open content, open source and open access so we can understand, absorb and make comment (or not). Knowledge must be allowed to flow openly to allow us to grow individually. We will see an increasing mass-scale of social collaborations. We are all moving to blogs, wikis, social networking and hundreds of collaborative platforms of choice. These are beginning to manage (even take over) our lives. As we disseminate knowledge we get growing cross-fertilization.

4. Finally, Open hardware – The more we become curious, the more we want to build ‘something.’ More and more open source hardware is permitting us to build upon it. We are increasingly having the potential to study, modify, make, extend, distribute or design so these modifications take on our identity. The use of ready to use components and materials, tapping into established processes, open infrastructures, allowing unrestricted content and plugging into open-source design tools gives us all as individuals the ability to create something. The more we are moving towards a more open source internet of things to design, use and value within our lives.

All of this digital technology is seemingly all about ‘getting to know’. Our privacy and security concerns are getting caught up in this, for a time it will slow the pace down but I fear the ‘genie is out of the lamp’ constantly asking you your next connected wish before you see another useful technology lamp to ‘rub’ for more wishes. Over time privacy and security will take on a different meaning and the pursuit of traceability and transparency will take its place as our concerns.

Why will this change - simply because we need everything to be open?

As we become more open, more willing or coerced into trying the latest thing, the internet of things will increasingly determine our behaviours. There are four powerful enablers that are working away at making a significant change in our lives. As we connect more, we change our ways of working, our thinking, our habits and our abilities to earn a living.

  • The more personal devices will keep us in the anytime / anywhere state, demanding the services it provides will give us increased innovating opportunities.
  • IoT will offer those (expected) guarantees of access into the physical world. Digital will fuse more with the physical and we have to keep open to explore this.
  • Then we have the internet of people, all busy connecting and communicating that will promote the internet as the fundamental channel of choice, into user communities of selected groups, or broader communities that we will rely increasingly upon for data, content, services and increasingly our ‘digital currency’ to earn a living.
  • Lastly cloud computing allows an infinite array of connecting apps, your personalised virtual infrastructure, where you can receive, deliver, create and distribute growing services over the internet, extending your ability to innovate to a much wider market.

Yes, the world of innovation is changing. We felt open innovation was a big enough deal, perhaps it was in its day but as digital implants itself into our lives, into our organizations, into our societies more and more. We must decide if we stay open to allow it in, or try to close it off and channel it in ways that will provide value, but those will be transitory moments before we need to go back and open up again.

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Paul Hobcraft

Paul Hobcraft

Paul Hobcraft researches and works across innovation, looking to develop novel innovation solutions and frameworks where appropriate. He provides possible answers to many issues associated with innov