A couple of weeks ago, I met a manufacturing customer of ours to discuss how MindTree could contribute to their innovation journey. Given the subject, it was not surprising that our ice-breaker conversation drifted into the most topical of all product innovation topics these days – the iPad, and how to use it to leapfrog your competitors.
Like many others, this customer was intrigued and excited with the possibilities that such a product can help them explore. That a device that would traditionally be slotted in the “consumer” category could be the focus of some serious discussion in a business meeting would have been unthinkable a few years ago.
Truly speaking though, the tablet computer in this case is not limited to the classical definition of a device. Rather, it has assumed the form of a platform that allows those leveraging it to leapfrog across its innovative usages. These could range from provisioning a travel approval tool for the busy executive to providing an interactive fault diagnosis and remediation tool for field engineers; to making an account dashboard available to the sales manager on the move.
This, I believe is the crux of innovation leapfrogging: leveraging innovation ideas and platforms that are already available around us but applying them in newer situations and contexts without infringing upon anybody’s intellectual property.
However, these ideas and platforms are not limited to the world of tablets. Rather, these are all around us waiting to be noticed, appreciated and leveraged.
A few examples as food for thought: Could the concept of a camera and bar-code based self-checkout retail counters be used to keep a tally of inventory in assembly line-side stores?
Could the concept of Single Minute Exchange of Dies be leveraged in hospital emergency rooms?
Could face recognition technology be focused on the inanimate and be used to rapidly evaluate superficial damage to a car that’s met with an accident?
Breathe easy if you don’t know the answers because, as of writing this blog, I don’t know either. But that may be because I am usually too busy asking questions.
Anyways, what’s your next innovation leapfrog?